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Innovator Article

University-City Partnerships Key to Urban Sustainability

The need for sustainable communities is a major economic, social and environmental issue that involves housing, transportation, energy and other infrastructure investments to protect the environment, promote equitable development and address the challenges of climate change. Achieving success in urban sustainability requires close cooperation between local, state and federal officials and crucial collaborations, such as city-university partnerships.

Federal agencies are interested in these city-university alliances, including how they develop, and the best practices, lessons learned and successful examples from urban sustainability initiatives, with a particular focus on energy efficiency and water.

To bring federal officials up to speed on Sacramento-university collaborations, Dean Steven Currall teamed with Julia Burrows, managing partner for Valley Vision and project manager for Greenwise Sacramento (pictured), to brief a high-level interagency group hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in Washington, D.C., on March 14. Officials attended from the Office of Management and Budget, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development, Department of Defense, Department of State, National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology. Jim Turner, senior counsel and director of energy programs at the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, recommended the Sacramento delegation’s invitation.

Currall and Burrows shared how the Sacramento region is building an innovation hub for environmental sustainability and clean technology by connecting the strengths and resources of UC Davis and Sacramento State with all levels of governments, the business community and entrepreneurs, and financial investors. Currall, who chaired the green and clean technologies policy team for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s Greenwise Sacramento regional action plan, showcased how UC Davis is working together with the entire community to accelerate job growth, research commercialization and start-up incubation, toward an ambitious shared goal to transform the region into the greenest in the country.


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