As for a return on investment, the project came in under budget, ahead of schedule and the goals set for minority hiring and training were all met or exceeded.
"What we're looking at now is sustainability. How do we apply the lessons learned about organizing and bringing people to the table," Jarrold said.
"We're in an industry that focuses on numbers, but I know and all of us know that the narrative of a community really defines who it is.
"With public engagement, these folks will go out and tell stories about what happened to them during the process. Those stories begin to change the narrative in our communities."
Planning for Sustainability
Clinton Bench, the deputy executive director, Office of Transportation Planning with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), talked about their sustainable initiatives, including the GreenDOT initiative that was started last year. The three main goals were to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote healthy transportation options and to support smart growth development.
Around the same time they started GreenDOT, they were engaging in a strategic planning process and they decided to not do it the traditional way with public hearings and meetings. "We wanted to find out the problems of the local transportation networks," Bench said.
Meetings were set up in a dialogue format to find out how they used the transportation network and what they found was, instead of people wanting or opposing specific capital projects, people were excited to tell them what was important to them: to see the bus coming on time, to have bus service in the smaller cities after 6 p.m., or to have service every 15 minutes instead of every 30 minutes.
Bench confirmed, "People wanted sustainability-type of improvements."
He said they've been able to connect with what people want and the MPOs to identify capital projects that needed to be done and ensuring those were consistent with the sustainability principles and the GreenDOT initiative.
A Real Value to Sustainability
Looking at sustainability from a real estate perspective was Daniel Rosenfeld, senior deputy for economic development, Office of Mark Ridley-Thomas, Supervisor, Second District, County of Los Angeles.
"We see transit as the first step of a three step process," he said.
1. The train
2. Infrastructure, including private and public, libraries, parks, retail around stations, etc.
3. Social infrastuructre – an identity of neighborhood
Rosenfeld said, "Transit is the last best hope of resurrecting these neighborhoods." They look at the value of sustainability in hard nose bottom line economic terms. "There's a nod to the environmental and social objectives, then they want to know what it's worth," he said of the private investors.
An investment in sustainability is advantageous for a number of reasons.
1. Market demand — Tenants are asking for it
2. Marketing advantage — It helps with marketing when you talk about your buildings being green
3. Lower capital cost — One specific area he talked about was how parking can be reduced and how much money that has saved some properties
4. Lower operating cost — Green initiatives are known for the savings in utilities
5. Availability of supplies is becoming an increasing issue — Such as water, energy
6. Higher value — There is some empirical evidence to support this, that buildings around transit trade higher.
7. Less volatility — As we've seen, when the market dropped, the property situated near transit lost less value
8. Public leadership — Investment in new technologies and sustainability is a way of promoting leadership and growth
How Can We Measure Sustainability?
Transit Authority of River City (TARC) Executive Director J. Barry Barker addressed the dilemma of how we need to look at measuring sustainability, the sustainability of a community. He referenced APTA's recent Telling Our Story initiative and said we need to focus more at the individuals that ride the system: why do they ride, what are their benefits.