Sustainability experts meet at UAB to find solutions for city

UAB hosts international symposium to help Birmingham increase sustainability and become greener, healthier and smarter.

Experts from around the world will gather at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to help make Birmingham a model of smart growth, healthy living and sustainability. The UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Symposium, which is free and open to the public, will assemble leaders in green design and transportation, environmental sustainability and economic development for the inaugural event Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012. Register at

SSC_Logo“Cities are responsible for about 75 percent of energy used, 60 percent of water consumed and 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide,” says Fouad H. Fouad, Ph.D., chair of UAB’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. “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.”

The goal of the daylong symposium, to be held at the DoubleTree Hotel Birmingham, 808 20th St. South, is to gather information and present innovative solutions to the City of Birmingham for improving its livability. The symposium, organized by the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, will foster cross-disciplinary research, training and outreach and capitalize on progress already achieved at UAB.

uabssc_story“The future of Birmingham and communities worldwide demands the sustainability of our urban resources environmentally, socially and economically,” says UAB President Carol Z. Garrison. “UAB is committed to drawing upon its intensely collaborative and innovative culture to discover ways of making Birmingham and cities everywhere greener, smarter and healthier. On campus, that commitment is reflected in UAB’s energy-efficiency and green-construction standards, the UAB Recycling Center, our Campus Green, carpooling and bike-riding initiatives and the creation of a new Sustainability Committee comprising faculty, staff and students. Beyond campus, UAB will carry on its longtime partnership with this community by working hand in hand with Birmingham Mayor William Bell, local civic and business leaders and pioneers in the field of smart growth to make Birmingham a global leader in urban sustainable living.”

The SSC Symposium features internationally renowned experts including Oscar Edmundo Diaz, who has helped the sustainable initiatives of 30 governments worldwide; Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, and green advisor to New York City; Manuel F. Olivera, regional director of the C40 Clinton Climate Initiative; and Carlo Ratti, director of MIT SENSEable City Lab.

“Ultimately, healthy cities promote the health, safety and well-being of all of its residents,” says Mona Fouad, M.D., MPH, director of the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center. “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, which suffers from high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases linked in large part to sedentary lifestyle and poor fitness.”

Mayor Bell will open the event with an overview of Birmingham’s successes and plans for sustainability. There will be a panel discussion featuring the international experts and local experts Cathy Crenshaw, president of Sloss Real Estate, and Frank Franklin, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus, UAB School of Public Health. The discussion will be moderated by interim UAB Provost Linda Lucas and UAB Collat School of Business Dean David R. Klock, Ph.D.

The symposium is a joint initiative of the UAB schools of Engineering, Business and Medicine and UAB’s Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center. Alabama Power is the presenting sponsor. Funding agencies include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.