More than 50 leading professors and policy experts from across the country convened in Washington, D.C., recently for a Sustainable Communities Research Roundtable to provide high-ranking officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) with ideas supporting the development of a sustainability research and policy agenda. 

The event was organized and facilitated by the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech in Alexandria, Va., as part of its Sustainable Communities Research Initiative, with assistance from the Virginia Center for Housing Research in Blacksburg. Support for the event was provided through a grant from SunTrust.

Raphael Bostic, assistant secretary for Policy Development and Research, and Maria Zimmerman, assistant director, Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, U.S. Department of Housing and Development, participated in the roundtable, joined by 20 researchers and staff from the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities which includes their department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy also participated.

“We were able to attract many of the nation’s leading researchers on critical sustainability policy issues to this event,” said Casey Dawkins, director of the Metropolitan Institute. “While the discussions were intense, thanks to the help of Virginia Tech faculty and facilitators, we were able to harness the group’s extensive experience and creativity.” 

“This was a true team effort among the Alexandria and Blacksburg campuses,” said Joe Schilling, the institute’s director for Sustainable Communities.

During the event, faculty from Virginia Tech’s Department of Urban Affairs and Planning presented research and policy overviews on three primary issues: accessible and affordable housing to strengthen policy connections between transportation and housing; green and energy efficient affordable housing to enhance the environmental quality and energy efficiency of housing for low-to-moderate income households, and cities in transition  to regenerate older, distressed communities through the lens of sustainability. These briefings were the basis for the roundtable discussions that followed.

In addition to Dawkins and Schilling, other Virginia Tech professors and staff were involved in the roundtable: Urban Affairs and Planning Department Chair Tom Sanchez; Professors John Randolph, Ted Koebel, Ralph Buehler, Derek Hyra, and Maggie Cowell;  Marilyn Cavell, assistant director, Center for Housing Research; and Jessica Hanff, operations manager for the Metropolitan Institute.

According to Schilling, “The plan now is to synthesize the insights from the roundtable into a cohesive research and policy framework and deliver them to HUD and the interagency partners by early November.”  The Metropolitan Institute has developed a scholar project page that all participants can access to review the roundtable proceedings and offer additional research ideas.

 

 

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