Stay tuned for an announcement about the 2017 SUS Symposium!
2016 Sustainable Urban Systems Symposium
Today’s urban challenges, including extraordinary population growth projected by 2050, presents a unique opportunity to re-envision and re-engineer urban environments for the future so that people and the planet flourish.
In support of this vision, Stanford’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Department has embarked on a Sustainable Urban Systems Initiative to facilitate cross-school conversations, collaborations, and education on urban sustainability.
The Initiative hosted its inaugural Sustainable Urban Systems Symposium at Stanford on June 1, 2016. The Symposium celebrated and showcased the pioneering work produced by students, researchers, and faculty in the past academic year under the broad theme of Sustainable Urban Systems, and sparked conversations and future collaborations within the broader community. Themes covered in the Symposium included:
Sustainability, resilience, and livability in cities
Next-generation infrastructure systems, including the food-water-energy nexus and transportation networks
Project-based learning connecting research, education, and practice in the Bay Area and beyond
Photos and information about the symposium can be viewed below. Slides and posters can be viewed here.
- 8:30am - Welcome from the School of Engineering and CEE Department
- James Leckie, Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
- 9:00am - Presentations
- John Rahaim, Planning Director, City and County of San Francisco
- Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director, SPUR
- Hilary Nixon, Director, Department of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University
- 10:00am - Panel Discussion on “Connecting Research, Education, and Practice”
- Rich Lechner, Managing Partner, The INSIGHT Group
- Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director, SPUR
- Hilary Nixon, Director, Department of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University
- S. Bry Sarté, Founder, Sherwood Design Engineers
- Mike Lepech, Moderator, Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
- 11:30am - Lunch, Student Projects & Research Talks
- 1:00pm - Closing Remarks
- Bruce Cain, Director, Bill Lane Center for the American West
- 1:30pm - Poster Reception in 1st floor Red Atrium
John S. Rahaim
Planning Director, San Francisco Planning Department
City and County of San Francisco
John Rahaim is the Planning Director for the City and County of San Francisco. Mr. Rahaim is responsible for overseeing long range city planning, development entitlements and environmental reviews for most physical development in San Francisco. He was appointed Planning Director in January 2008.
Since Mr. Rahaim’s arrival, the San Francisco Planning Department has completed several comprehensive neighborhood plans, several neighborhood historic resource surveys, and updates to the City’s general plan. Major initiatives completed under Mr. Rahaim’s direction include the Transit Center District Plan, enabling a new high density core for Downtown San Francisco and the Better Streets Plan, a comprehensive strategy to upgrade the quality of the city’s public realm.
The Planning Department also plays a key role in the city’s strategy to accommodate the state’s High Speed Rail Corridor and regional planning efforts to address the nine-county region’s Sustainable Community Strategy. The ongoing work of the department includes reviews for 8000 projects per year, of which nearly 2000 require detailed review and analysis, more than any city in the US.
Sustainable Development Policy Director
Laura Tam coordinates SPUR's work in five major policy areas: green buildings, water supply, wastewater, energy and climate change. In this role since 2007, she works to improve climate resilience and reduce the environmental footprint of cities. As a thought leader on climate adaptation and water management, she has produced and participated in numerous public programs, citywide task forces, major research reports and advocacy recommending strategies for sea level rise, water efficiency and reuse, green infrastructure and reducing climate-change emissions.
Laura currently serves on the board of directors of Friends of the Urban Forest, the board of the Green Infrastructure Foundation and the advisory council of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Prior to working at SPUR, she worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She has a Master’s degree in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a BA in geography from Dartmouth College.
San Jose Policy Director
Laura Tolkoff coordinates SPUR’s planning and policy work in San Jose. Prior to joining SPUR, Laura was a senior planner for energy and the environment at Regional Plan Association (RPA), a nonprofit research, planning and advocacy organization in the New York metropolitan area. There, she managed and led the organization’s energy program and coastal climate resilience portfolio. She co-authored a number of reports and policy studies on the transformation of the power sector, climate resilience and hazard mitigation. Prior to RPA, Laura coordinated a HUD-funded study of mixed-income housing at New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
Laura earned a master’s degree in urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University and a bachelor’s degree in media studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Hilary Nixon
Chair, Department of Urban & Regional Planning
San José State University
Professor Nixon serves as chair of the Department of Urban & Regional Planning at San José State University. She specializes in environmental planning and policy, and also teaches courses on community planning, history and theory of planning, and policy analysis. Her teaching emphasizes the use of project-based, and community-based learning. Her research interests include household hazardous waste management, particularly electronic waste recycling, and the factors that influence pro-environmental behaviors. In addition, she serves as a Research Associate with the Mineta Transportation Institute where her work focuses primarily on the relationship between transportation and the environment. Dr. Nixon was recognized as “Advisor of the Year” by SJSU’s Student Involvement in 2009 and 2015. Dr. Nixon and her students have also received awards from the California Chapter of the American Planning Association for academic excellence.
Sherwood Design Engineers
Bry Sarté is an author, professional engineer, academic and nonprofit founder. Fourteen years ago, he started Sherwood Design Engineers, which now has several offices in the United States and has worked on hundreds of leading national and international engineering projects. His work significantly influences contemporary global urban transformation around issues of infrastructure, urban design and ecological systems. He regularly serves as a lecturer at top universities and conferences around the world, where he discusses applications of ecological engineering to planning, design, and construction. He currently serves on the faculty of Columbia University’s Architecture and Urban Design Program, where he teaches the graduate course, Infrastructure, Resiliency, and Public Space.
As engineer for hundreds of the world's leading sustainable engineering projects, Mr. Sarté’s work responds to global environmental issues addressing the intersection of infrastructure, ecological and urban design. Many of his projects have been the first-of-their kind in applying green infrastructure systems, strategies and concepts. From innovative planning projects on one end of the spectrum to implemented construction projects on the other, much of Sarté's work has been highly integrated, highly collaborative design developed in tandem with the world's leading architecture and landscape architecture firms.
Mr. Sarté has served as the principal in charge for projects that range from the largest private real estate development in the U.S., Hudson Yards in New York, to the award-winning San Francisco Better Streets Plan. Other notable projects include the revitalization of the iconic waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park, the award winning Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, and the 35 sq-km award-winning Baietan Urban Area Plan in the heart of Guangzhou, China. Additionally, he has led the engineering design for numerous completed construction projects that have changed the direction of how we build. The projects range from institutional buildings to civic infrastructure.
Mr. Sarté is the author of the published John Wiley & Sons book, Sustainable Infrastructure: The Guide to Green Engineering and Design, which serves as a comprehensive guide to integrating sustainable strategies into infrastructure planning and design with emphasis on water resource management, site design and land planning. Throughout the book Mr. Sarté highlights the central role that creative engineering integrated into collaborative design processes play in developing the complex solutions needed to affect a sustainable transformation of our built environment. He is currently working with Columbia University’s GSAPP Books on his second book Innovations in Urban Water Infrastructure. This book identifies recommendations for innovative approaches to dealing with water in an urban environment with at critical focus on the United Nations Habitat III.
As chair of the Sustainable Landscape and Engineering Committee at SPUR, (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research) Mr. Sarté works with participants from the Department of Public Works, SFPUC, Department of Parking and Traffic, Urban Forestry Council, Department of the Environment, Planning Department, Alliance for a Clean Waterfront, PG&E, Friends of the Urban Forrest, and other non-profit, designers and community groups. The outcome of their workshops and strategy sessions has helped to define priorities to integrate the stormwater management system, increase tree planting and landscaping, improve the pedestrian environment, improve San Francisco’s natural ecosystems, and increase public awareness of green living through eco-revelatory design.
Bry founded the Sherwood Institute in 2009. The institute is comprised of academic, professional, and government advisors from five countries directing research and innovation at the nexus of critical water and energy issues. The nonprofit’s mission is to safeguard and extend the availability and energy efficiency of the threatened vital fresh water resources in the six developed continents. He currently serves as the founder of this nonprofit.
For Four years, Mr. Sarte has served on the faculty board for Columbia University’s Architecture and Urban Design Program. He teaches the graduate course “Infrastructure, Resilience + Public Space”. This course explores critical issues that describe the role and responses of public space in major cities due to climate change. It provides strategies from both real projects and complementary visions of future development. In addition, Mr. Sarté is working with Columbia University’s GSAPP Books on publishing his second book Innovations in Urban Water Infrastructure. This book identifies recommendations for innovative approaches to dealing with water in an urban environment with at critical focus on the United Nations Habitat III.
The INSIGHT Group
Rich Lechner has spent 30+ years helping organizations leverage technology to address critical business challenges and to change the way the world works. He was a serial entrepreneur and turnaround artist at IBM in a career that spanned the breadth of the IT industry from software to systems to services. He held senior executive positions in development, sales and marketing.
As vice president of Energy & Environment at IBM, he launched a business segment which grew to $4B across a portfolio that included energy efficient IT, intelligent buildings, smart urban infrastructure, and optimization of operations. He led IBM’s internal initiative that resulted in an estimated $180M in annual IT energy savings.
Rich was an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Earth Institute for Environmental Sustainability. Having relocated to San Francisco, he’ll be teaching a course on Smarter Cities at Stanford this summer as part of the Environmental & Water Studies Program.
Dr. James Leckie
C. L. Peck, Class of 1906, Professor of Environmental Engineering
Director, Center for Sustainable Development & Global Competitiveness
Professor James O. Leckie is the C.L. Peck, Class of 1906, Professor of Environmental Engineering and Geological and Environmental Sciences (by courtesy) at Stanford University. He is also Director of the Center for Sustainable Development & Global Competitiveness and Director of the Stanford Environmental & Water Studies Summer Program. His research interests include computational intelligence for smart physical and social infrastructure, using computational learning and optimization tools to (1) better design smart physical infrastructure (transportation systems, urban water systems), and (2) facilitate a class of social services such as knowledge management for social innovation, to integrate social functionality into urban communities.
Professor Leckie is chair of the Sustainable Urban Systems Initiative and has been the faculty advisor for the Sustainable Urban Systems Project: San Jose, a three-quarter-long project-based-learning course which connects interdisciplinary teams of students with municipal partners for real-world urban problem solving.
Dr. Bruce Cain
Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West
Charles Louis Ducommun Professor in Humanities and Sciences
The distinguished political scientist Bruce E. Cain is the Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West, and Charles Louis Ducommun Professor in Humanities and Sciences. Professor Cain succeeded the Center's founding faculty co-director, David M. Kennedy, and is tasked with carrying on the Center's study of the past, present and future of the American West.
Professor Cain brings a wealth of experience in U.S. and California politics. A pioneer in computer-assisted redistricting, he is a well-known expert on elections, term limits, polling, and the relationships between lobbyists and elected officials. He is a frequently cited source in media coverage of politics.