UAB has made it a priority to be a good steward of its resources. Recent initiatives that embody the university’s efforts to ensure the sustainability of its education, research and health-care facilities include building the Campus Green, installing green roofs, launching a comprehensive recycling program and creating a campuswide Sustainability Committee.
Jon Paolone coordinates UAB’s Recycling Center — just one of the university’s sustainability efforts.
The university is pursuing its next initiative Thursday, Feb. 16, when it hosts the inaugural UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Symposium. Experts in green design and transportation, intelligent technologies, environmental sustainability, health and livability, economic development and government and public policy will share their ideas for making Birmingham a model of smart growth, healthy living and sustainability. Register for the free symposium at www.UABSSC.org.
“As the world’s population continues to urbanize, we need sustainable, smart cities with a strong infrastructure that makes them environmentally friendly, increases residents’ quality of life and cuts costs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs,” says Fouad H. Fouad, Ph.D., professor and chair of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. “Sustainability is a newer area of research and one we recently have been focusing on at UAB. The research is highly interdisciplinary in nature because smart cities involve engineering, business, medicine and public health. It’s a perfect initiative for UAB because our institution really ties together the tools of sustainability — environment, economy and the social aspect — with some of the best researchers and brightest minds in the world.”
The daylong symposium is a joint initiative of the UAB schools of Engineering, Business and Medicine plus the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center. Alabama Power is a presenting sponsor. Funding agencies include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. It will be held in the DoubleTree Hotel Birmingham.
Birmingham Mayor William Bell will present the symposium’s opening remarks and discuss the city’s successes and future plans for developing a smarter Birmingham. Other speakers from UAB include President Carol Garrison, Vice President of Research and Economic Development Richard Marchase, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Dean of the School of Medicine Ray Watts, M.D., and Director of the Division of Preventive Medicine and the Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center Mona Fouad, M.D.. interim UAB Provost Linda Lucas, Ph.D., and UAB School of Business Dean David Klock, Ph.D., will moderate a panel discussion that will include keynote speakers:
- Cathy Crenshaw, president and CEO of Sloss Real Estate
- Oscar E. Diaz, co-founder and president of Global Solutions Dynamic Plus
- Frank Franklin, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of the UAB School of Public Health
- Manuel Olivera, regional director of the C40 Clinton Climate Initiative
- Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia
- Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT SENSEable Labs, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The symposium also will feature a strong health component — a vital factor to sustainable smart cities, Mona Fouad says.
“Ultimately, a healthy city promotes the health, safety and well-being of its residents,” Fouad says. “Green urban design and planning can motivate people of all ages to be more physically active — to walk and ride bikes rather than travel by car. Innovative, healthy solutions are especially important for the city of Birmingham because its residents suffer high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases linked to sedentary lifestyle and poor fitness.”
A center for research
The future of Birmingham and communities worldwide demands the sustainability of our urban resources, Fouad Fouad says, and UAB wants to be at the forefront.
The creation of the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center, to be housed in the School of Engineering, is a first step. The center, awaiting approval by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, will promote interdisciplinary research and fund grants related to sustainability.
“We have been getting tremendous support from Dick Marchase and Linda Lucas for this new center,” Fouad says. “The whole university has been very supportive. This center and the symposium are just the first steps to highlight where we can go and what we can do as a university and community.”
Following the event, a summary of the meeting’s discussions and recommendations will be presented to the City of Birmingham and be posted online at www.UABSSC.org. Organizers say this forum will become an annual opportunity to obtain expert input and information that will benefit the metropolitan area in its drive to create sustainable and healthier communities.