Sustainable Urban Design: New University Program Targets Architects, Developers and Planners

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The University of British Columbia announced today the launch of a new, week-long professional development program that teaches how to integrate natural systems into the design of urban environments. The UBC Summer Institute in Sustainable Urban Design – Natural Systems and the Built Environment takes place July 18–23 at the UBC campus in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Institute tackles the biggest issue in building and city design today – how to plan and design buildings, infrastructure and landscapes that incorporate natural systems in a synergistic way.

Vancouver, British Columbia hosts the UBC Summer Institute in Sustainable Urban Design

“Our focus is on the practical application of sustainability principles to the built environment. We want to demonstrate the state-of-the-art in the real-world.

The University of British Columbia announced today the launch of a new, week-long professional development program that teaches how to integrate natural systems into the design of urban environments. The UBC Summer Institute in Sustainable Urban Design – Natural Systems and the Built Environment takes place July 18–23 at the UBC campus in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Institute tackles the biggest issue in building and city design today – how to plan and design buildings, infrastructure and landscapes that incorporate natural systems in a synergistic way.

Oriented toward architects, landscape architects, planners, developers, policy makers and project managers who want to learn how to integrate sustainable design principles and techniques into buildings and urban landscapes, the program takes an integrated systems approach. “We look at essential sustainability themes like energy, biodiversity, economic prosperity and cultural vitality, and apply the design processes, tools and technologies that support those themes to a range of physical scales, including the building, the neighbourhood, the city, and the region”, explains Elisa Campbell, director the UBC Design Centre for Sustainability and one of the program’s hosts. “This requires whole systems thinking and takes architecture, landscape architecture and planning to a new level of integration – one based on the interoperability of the entire built environment – which enables ecosystem protection while providing economic and social spaces that work for every level of society.”

The UBC Summer Institute in Sustainable Urban Design features Vancouver’s leading-edge green initiatives, including the 2010 Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Village, an exemplar of sustainable neighbourhood planning. “For years Vancouver has been recognized by the Economist and others as one of the world’s most liveable cities,” claims Mike Harcourt, former mayor of Vancouver and associate director of the UBC Continuing Studies Centre for Sustainability, a partner in the Institute. “Now Vancouver is planning to become one of the world’s most sustainable cities. We already have the lowest per capita carbon footprint of any major North American city and the Mayor’s Greenest City Action Plan provides a framework to further develop economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability.”

The UBC Summer Institute in Sustainable Urban Design features leading-edge green building and sustainability thinkers and practitioners, including professors from the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture as well as industry professionals like Roger Bayley, the design manager for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Village. “Our focus is on the practical application of sustainability principles to the built environment,” says Campbell. “We want to demonstrate the state-of-the-art in the real-world. The Olympic/Paralympic Village is one such place, as is the newly expanded Vancouver Convention Centre and the Woodward’s Redevelopment in downtown Vancouver.”

The Institute takes place over six days to provide an in-depth perspective of current practices in sustainable building and urban design. Institute participants will enjoy inspiring presentations and though-provoking dialogue with experts and colleagues as well as experiential field tours and social-networking opportunities. “A natural systems approach to urban planning takes into account not just environmental metrics of light, wind, water, flora and fauna,” explains Campbell, “but the natural rhythms of human designed economic and social activity, whether it’s shopping, transportation, office settings, schooling or weekend art festivals. All these systems are incorporated within the sustainability framework. The challenge is how to design and develop urban settings that are well integrated with natural systems in a way that optimizes economic and social outcomes.”

The UBC Summer Institute in Sustainable Urban Design – Natural Systems and the Built Environment is hosted by the Design Centre for Sustainability in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, part of the UBC Faculty of Applied Science, and the UBC Continuing Studies Centre for Sustainability. Tuition is $3,495. Additional information and registration is available at http://www.cstudies.ubc.ca/sisud.

About the University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia (UBC), established in 1908, educates a student population of 50,000 on major campuses in Vancouver and Kelowna, Canada, and holds an international reputation for excellence in advanced research and learning. UBC is an acknowledged leader in campus sustainability and is increasingly recognized as a hub for discussion and research on many wider aspects of sustainability, including resource conservation, habitat preservation, climate change, social equity and economic resiliency. View ubc.ca for more information.

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