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Pathways to Urban Sustainability: 
Lessons from the Atlanta Metropolitan Region
Georgia Tech Global Learning Center
84 5th Street Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30308
September 30-October 1, 2010


  Project Information  

Project Scope
Agenda and Presentations
Committee Membership

Project Scope

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine are organizing a workshop in Atlanta to foster discussion of the metropolitan region’s approach to urban sustainability, with an emphasis on building the evidence base upon which policies and programs might be developed. Participants will explore how the interaction of various systems (natural and human systems; energy, water, transportation systems) affect the region’s social, economic, and environmental conditions. Discussions will center on the challenges the region faces, innovative approaches to addressing these complex challenges, performance measures to gauge success, and opportunities to link knowledge with on-the-ground action. The event will be carried out in cooperation with local partners and hosted by the Georgia Institute of Technology, but will also engage local, state, and federal agencies in order to explore how their resources could best support sustainable improvements in the Atlanta metropolitan region.

Agenda & Presentations

Pathway to Urban Sustainability: Lessons from the Atlanta Metropolitan Region  

Georgia Tech Global Learning Center
84 5th Street Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30308
September 30-October 1, 2010
[Final Agenda, PDF, 47KB]


  • Discuss the ways that regional actors are approaching sustainability, specifically, how they are attempting to merge environmental, social, and economic objectives
  • Share information about ongoing activities and strategic planning efforts, including lessons learned
  • Examine the role that science, technology, and research can play in supporting efforts to make the region more sustainable
  • Explore how federal agency efforts, particularly interagency partnerships, can complement/leverage the efforts of other key stakeholders

Thursday, September 30, 2010

9:00 AM     Welcome and Goals of the Workshop
                    Denise Stephenson Hawk, Consultant and Former Director, Societal-Environmental Research and Education Laboratory, 
                    National Center for Atmospheric Research

9:15 AM     Interactions between Human and Natural Systems in the Built Environment
                    Christopher Portier, Director, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Session I: Perspectives on Sustainability in the Atlanta Metropolitan Region

Plenary presentations reinforced the value-added benefits of interdisciplinary solutions to urban challenges, and illustrated a “systems” approach to sustainability.
Moderator: Glen Daigger, Senior Vice President and CTO, CH2M Hill, Inc.

9:30 AM     Pathways to Urban Sustainability: Energy, Water & Climate Drivers
                    Marilyn Brown, Professor, School of Public Policy, Georgia Tech

10:00 AM   Pathways to Urban Sustainability: Lessons from the Atlanta Metropolitan Region
                    Carol Couch, Senior Public Service Associate, College of Environment and Design, University of Georgia 

10:30 AM   BREAK    

10:45 AM   Sustainability: From Theory to Reality
                    Catherine Ross, Director and Harry West Chair, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, Georgia Tech

11:15 AM   Panel Discussion—sustainability and economic growth
                    Charles Whatley, Director of Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Atlanta Development Authority and 
                    Greg Chafee, Chair of the Green Business Practice, Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP


Session II: “Building Bridges”
Presentations from a range of organizations and stakeholders addressed a set of core questions. 

1:15 PM     Building Bridges
                    Moderator: Steven Olson, Director, Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility, Georgia State University 

1:15 PM     A Tale of Two Brownfields: Edgewood Retail and Atlantic Station
                    Tom Weyandt, Director of Comprehensive Planning, Atlanta Regional Commission 

1:45 PM     Atlanta BeltLine Project
                    Lisa Gordon, COO, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. 

2:15 PM     Water Conservation Challenges and Successes: Lessons from San Antonio
                    Karen Guz, Director of Conservation, San Antonio Water System 

2:45 PM     Advancing Solar Energy and the New Energy Economy in Georgia: A Private Sector Perspective
                    James Marlow, CEO, Radiance Solar 

3:00 PM     The Role of Natural Ecosystems in Sustaining Societal Values: the West Georgia Project
                    Graeme Lockaby, Director, Center for Forest Sustainability, Auburn University 

3:15 PM     Decision-Support Tools: Modeling Sustainable and Resilient Urban Infrastructure in the Atlanta Region
                    John Crittenden, Director, Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, Georgia Tech

3:30 PM     BREAK

3:45 PM     Breakout groups 
                      • Neighborhood and City-Scale Projects
                         Andrea Pinabell, Program Manager, Sustainable Community Development, The Home Depot Foundation
                      • Regional Projects and Plans
                         Ed Macie, Urban Forestry Group Leader, USDA Forest Service Southern Region
                      • Policy and Research
                         Anne Keller, Senior Sustainability Advisor, USEPA Region 4

4:45 PM     Report back in plenary

5:30 PM     Adjourn

Friday, October 1, 2010 

9:00 AM     Federal Agency Efforts to Support Sustainable Communities
                   John Frece, Director, Office of Sustainable Communities, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 

Session III: “Integrating Goals, Measuring Progress, Translating Results”
Panelists representing a variety of perspectives took part in a moderated discussion on how progress toward sustainability might be measured in the region. This session highlighted indicators that were currently in use, the timescales for measuring progress, potential returns on investments in sustainability, and methods for communicating results. 
Moderator: Wayne Zipperer, Research Scientist, USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station 

9:30 AM      Panel Discussion 
                     • K.C. Boyce, Deputy Executive Director, Membership & Regional Impact, ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability
                     • Renee Glover, President and CEO, Atlanta Housing Authority 
                     • Jeremy Hess, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
                     • Mandy Mahoney, Director of Sustainability, City of Atlanta 
                     • John Wegner, Senior Lecturer and Chief Environmental Officer, Department of Environmental Studies, Emory University 

10:45 AM    BREAK

11:00 AM    Moderated Q&A with audience


Session IV: “Moving Forward”

Participants focused their discussion on a set of questions intended to illuminate how stakeholders in the region could take a more integrated approach to sustainable development 

1:00 PM     Breakout groups
                     • Closing the “Knowing-Doing” Gap
                        Kevin Moody, Ecologist, Federal Highway Administration Resource Center, U.S. Department of Transportation 
                     • Incentives to Change Practice
                        Vicki Coleman, Business Relations Manager, Fulton County Government

3:30 PM    Report back in plenary

4:00 PM    Adjourn



Book Cover


Pathways to Urban Sustainability: Lessons from the Atlanta Metropolitan Region: Summary of a Workshop



committee membership information

The committee listed below was established by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The project's steering committee reviews all proposals and oversees the organization of the workshops.

  • Denise Stephenson Hawk (Chair)
    Chair, The Stephenson Group, LLC
  • Judy Adler
    Program Officer, The Turner Foundation
  • Anne Keller
    Senior Sustainability Advisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4
  • Edward Macie
    Regional Coordinator, U.S Forest Service Southern Region
  • Krista Mills
    Field Office Director, U.S. Department of Housing and Development Louisville Field Office 
  • Kevin Moody
    Ecologist, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
  • Andrea Pinabell
    Program Manager, Sustainable Community Development, The Home Depot Foundation
  • Dale Quattrochi
    Senior Research Scientist, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
  • Catherine L. Ross 
    Director and Harry West Chair, City and Regional Planning, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Tom Weyandt
    Director, Comprehensive Planning, Atlanta Regional Commission 

Steering Committee, Biographies (PDF 43KB)


  • Derek Vollmer, Program Officer, Policy and Global Affairs (
  • Kathleen McAllister, Associate Program Officer, Policy and Global Affairs (


The project is supported by the Home Depot Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Energy, Interface Environmental Foundation, Turner Foundation, and the George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability Science.