Part II of The Value of Sustainability

I’m back home from the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop, which was held in Los Angeles earlier this week. There were many great sessions to pick from, a variety of exhibitors and of course a lot of people to network with to hear firsthand what’s happening in the industry. A focus was on what the value of sustainability really is and how it can be measured. It was also great to see that there was a balance of this information coming from the private side, as well as the public side.

Seeing it from the private side, the data they shared in how sustainability helps their bottom line, really helps to shift the value beyond tree-hugging planet-helping to being sustainable as in keeping these businesses in business. Other common feedback I heard was that it’s great to see this is all becoming more relevant to the day-to-day operations of businesses/companies/agencies and it’s not so focused on simply building a “green” building or running alternative fuel. Now when we talk about sustainability, it implies we’re referring to how transportation impacts the sustainability of the community, as well.

During one session that looked at how communities can build partnerships to work together to create regional plans, a thought-proving comment was made by Robin Blair, director citywide planning and development, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, that he doesn’t think transit-oriented development exists; it’s just a building next to a transit system. The phrase he used was that they’re looking for develop-oriented transit. You can read more about the session moderated by Cliff Henke, a senior analyst with Parsons Brinckerhoff, HERE.

The closing roundtable discussion focused on a number of ways in how we can reframe our thinking to quantify the value of sustainability. Kevin Desmond, general manager of King County Metro Transit and chair of the APTA Sustainability committee, led a group of panelists that included the public and private perspectives. Read more on the variety of ways in which we can look at measuring sustainability HERE.

As usual at any conference or workshop, I heard from a lot of people that one of the best opportunities is the opportunity to catch up with other attendees to exchange all of the great ideas that are out there, the different challenges we face, and finding the common challenges others have already worked through. And, also like every other meeting, there’s never enough time and at the Sustainability Committee’s meeting at the close of the Workshop, people were excited to look to what to expect for Sustainability and Public Transportation 2012.