Catching the Sustainability Buzz in Boston

Posted March 16, 2010

 

By Matt Ries, P.E., Managing Director of Technical and Educational Services for WEF

 

Once in a while I attend a conference where absolutely everything seems to click and the confluence of place, people, and ideas creates a feeling that something truly special is occurring.  There’s a buzz in the air and the participants know it.  Conversations everywhere extend for hours after Q&As have ended and the last sessions have wrapped up. That’s what happened in Boston last week at the memorable pairing of the WEF-IWA conference on Cities of the Future (CotF) and WEF’s Urban River Restoration Conference (URRC). 

Mixing forward thinking concepts with the practical challenges of our urban water systems, we presented and discussed cross-disciplinary ideas that must be a part of a sustainable future for water infrastructure.  Contributions from our many partners, including knowledge of distributed systems, water resources, planning, landscape architecture, and environmental protection, enhanced sharing of diverse perspectives.  Some conference themes: 

  • We must think not about “wastewater” but “used water.” And, then work to extract energy, nutrients, and other resources from what now is considered a waste. 
  • We discussed how to move beyond green roofs to green walls to green columns, integrating the vertical city construction with a vertical watershed concept.
  • In a world of increasingly scarce water and escalating demands, siloing of potable water, wastewater, stormwater, and recycled water will not suffice. 
  • The most successful case studies all incorporated triple bottom line elements--economic, environmental, and the social component that our sector often struggles to integrate into its projects.

We have posted summary points on the CotF and URRC websites and look for a pair of webcasts later this year, highlighting the best features of each conference.

 

Did you attend the Cities of the Future or Urban River Restoration Conference?  What was your reaction?  Is your organization taking steps to contribute to a more sustainable urban water environment?  What are some of the barriers you see to moving from the old, linear concepts of water management to the future, integrated approach?  Let us know what you think!

 

 03/16/2010Permanent link

Catching the Sustainability Buzz in Boston  ()
 

Posted March 16, 2010

Once in a while I attend a conference where absolutely everything seems to click and the confluence of place, people, and ideas creates a feeling that something truly special is occurring.  There’s a buzz in the air and the participants know it.  Conversations everywhere extend for hours after Q&As have ended and the last sessions have wrapped up.

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Catching the Sustainability Buzz in Boston

 Permanent link

Catching the Sustainability Buzz in Boston

Posted March 16, 2010

 

By Matt Ries, P.E., Managing Director of Technical and Educational Services for WEF

 

Once in a while I attend a conference where absolutely everything seems to click and the confluence of place, people, and ideas creates a feeling that something truly special is occurring.  There’s a buzz in the air and the participants know it.  Conversations everywhere extend for hours after Q&As have ended and the last sessions have wrapped up. That’s what happened in Boston last week at the memorable pairing of the WEF-IWA conference on Cities of the Future (CotF) and WEF’s Urban River Restoration Conference (URRC). 

Mixing forward thinking concepts with the practical challenges of our urban water systems, we presented and discussed cross-disciplinary ideas that must be a part of a sustainable future for water infrastructure.  Contributions from our many partners, including knowledge of distributed systems, water resources, planning, landscape architecture, and environmental protection, enhanced sharing of diverse perspectives.  Some conference themes: 

  • We must think not about “wastewater” but “used water.” And, then work to extract energy, nutrients, and other resources from what now is considered a waste. 
  • We discussed how to move beyond green roofs to green walls to green columns, integrating the vertical city construction with a vertical watershed concept.
  • In a world of increasingly scarce water and escalating demands, siloing of potable water, wastewater, stormwater, and recycled water will not suffice. 
  • The most successful case studies all incorporated triple bottom line elements--economic, environmental, and the social component that our sector often struggles to integrate into its projects.

We have posted summary points on the CotF and URRC websites and look for a pair of webcasts later this year, highlighting the best features of each conference.

 

Did you attend the Cities of the Future or Urban River Restoration Conference?  What was your reaction?  Is your organization taking steps to contribute to a more sustainable urban water environment?  What are some of the barriers you see to moving from the old, linear concepts of water management to the future, integrated approach?  Let us know what you think!

 

Posted by Julie Fuller at 03/16/2010 11:37:37 AM | 


Comments
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MattRies.JPGPosted by:
Matt Ries, P.E. 

Matthew Ries, P.E., is Chief Technical Officer for WEF. In this capacity he oversees staff with responsibility for the technical programming and development of WEF’s e-Learning program, webcasts, seminars, specialty conferences, and WEFTEC, the world’s largest annual water conference. In addition, these staff serve as liaisons to over 20 technical committees and communities of practice. He serves as the staff liaison to the Utility Management Committee and directs WEF’s initiatives on innovation and nutrients.

 


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