Nearly 100 attend Smart Growth Conference

By Isaac Bonnell

On Sept. 4, nearly 100 developers, politicians and planners gathered at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal for the annual Smart Growth for Sustainable Communities conference.

Hosted by Sustainable Connections, the event featured keynote speaker Greg Searle of BioRegional North America, who talked about ways that green building can help people live more sustainable lifestyles. Green building is only half of the challenge, he said.

“We often think about the infrastructure of the project, but we don’t think about the lifestyles of the people who live in the bowels of these buildings,” Searle said during his presentation.

Other topics discussed at the conference ranged from the ideals of true urbanism to the look and feel of mixed-use development. Speakers included:

  • Mark Hinshaw, director of urban design for LMN Architects
  • Roger Valdez, research associate at the Sightline Institute
  • Sean Canady and Don Vehige, principal and associate (respectively) of GGLO

The conference ended with an exercise that put theory onto paper. Attendees were split into groups and given the task of sketching out a mixed-use redevelopment plan for a lot in the proposed Samish Way Urban Village.

“We’ve got a lot of talented professionals here and getting them all in the same room at the same time is difficult,” said Nick Hartrich, green building coordinator for Sustainable Connections. “Getting 100 of them is hard, but they’re up there and they’re generating ideas that are going to help solve some of the biggest problems today.”

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