Hi, Green Spacers. Jesse here. I made a mistake last week in editing Green Space intern Andy McWhorter’s excellent debut feature, A Road to nowhere? An update on the Northern Beltline.
As editors tend to do, I changed some of Andy’s wording and referred to as an “opponent” of this long-planned freeway in northern Jefferson County. That was incorrect. My apologies to Andy and the CRS.
CRS executive director Beth Stewart supplied me with the following explanation:
“The Society has not adopted a position for or against the Beltline. There are broader questions to be explored in this community conversation. How can our region have the much-needed growth potential of improved transportation options, while also improving our quality of life and environment? What is the most cost-effective way to plan for and steer public investment in growth that will fairly benefit the entire Birmingham metro area? What transportation improvements would best position our communities to compete for growth with other Southeastern cities 20 to 30 years from now?"
“Specific to the Beltline proposal, we have significant concerns about the current design of the project and the incomplete environmental impact statement, which raise many unanswered questions. The roadway design shown to the public would damage water quality, wildlife and water supply in the Cahaba River, our region’s drinking water source. CRS has met with [Alabama Department of Transportation] ALDOT representatives several times and has provided ideas in writing for reducing those impacts. We are still hoping for a positive response. ALDOT’s original environmental studies for the project are 13 years old and incomplete. ALDOT’s process has been underway for several years to update those studies and consider, for the first time, what the full, cumulative impacts will be of the entire project and its intended spin-off development. The results of those necessary studies, which should be essential to any governmental decisions about the project, have not been released to the public."
“From a purely economic standpoint, any growth and transportation choices made by our communities will require healthy and vibrant water resources. The waters of the Cahaba and other streams are the lifeblood to improve the region’s quality of life, both economic and environmental. Access to healthy watersheds is imperative.”
In an upcoming edition of Green Space, we will bring you Build Birmingham Better, a statement created by Conservation Alabama, endorsed by the CRS and supplied to us by Stewart. It discusses some principles for ecologically sound development in our area.
BUILDING GREEN: Next week, Birmingham will once again play host to the largest and most important green building conference in the Southeast when the Green Building Focus Conference and Expo comes to the BJCC from August 24-27. The event is hosted by Birmingham firm Green Building Focus. Sustainable building experts, business people, academics and politicians will gather to share new ideas, trends, materials and technologies. The agenda includes over 30 presentations, panel discussions and breakout sessions, as well as an exhibition with about 200 purveyors of green building products and services.
According to James Smith, Green Building Focus CEO, last year’s expo—the first to be held in Birmingham—attracted over 2000 attendees, and this year’s event will include delegates from Canada, Mexico and Australia.
Speakers will include Michelle Moore, the Obama administration’s Federal Environmental Executive, responsible for promoting sustainability and environmental stewardship in the operations of the federal government.
Karan Grover, a superstar Indian architect often called the “world’s greenest architect,” will make a return visit. Social media expert Chris Brogan, author of Social Media 101 and Trust Agents, will present a workshop and host a tweet-up.
Yalmaz Siddiqui, director of environmental strategy for Office Depot, will address the conference. “[He] will explain how they have made millions of dollars by making [sustainability] part of their business plan,” according to Smith. “We’re taking a broad focus on sustainability as it relates to corporations and big business. This is not about tree hugging. It’s about corporate strategy and growing your business.”
According to Smith, San Francisco celebrity architect Eric Corey Freed will offer a multi-media presentation about how even the lost city of Detroit, Mich., could be turned into a sustainable urban oasis. “For a post-industrial city like Birmingham, this will have some really practical suggestions for the city and region to help the poor, and create jobs.” Smith says.
The conference will also feature an eco-market where author and green interior design expert Robin Wilson will appear. For more information, including a full agenda, call (205) 326-2380 or visit www.greenbuildingfocus.com.
Jesse Chambers is a Birmingham Weekly contributing editor. Send your comments to email@example.com.