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Summit on Sustainability
Date October 15, 2020
Time 12:00pm-4:45pm
Location Virtual

Those who register will receive login information for both days of the summit — October 15 and October 16.

Summit on Sustainability

The Summit on Sustainability is MORPC’s signature environmental conference, bringing together hundreds of community leaders to explore and share sustainable ideas and solutions, and to celebrate individuals and collaborative sustainability efforts with the Regional Sustainability Awards.

With a virtual format for 2020, MORPC is now partnering with the Atlanta Regional Commission to deliver a summit that includes a wider array of content. The summit will allow for a closer look at best practices across both the Central Ohio and the Atlanta regions – bringing in top-notch speakers to share stories and ideas related to sustainability and allowing those in each region to learn from one another. Topics will relate to everything from air and water quality to energy, mobility, development, and the current political environment.

The 2020 Summit on Sustainability will be taking place virtually on October 15-16, 2020.

October 15: 12 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
October 16: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. 


The summit features plenary sessions, as well as breakout sessions that focus on energy, water quality, materials management, local foods, active transportation, land-use development, air quality, social equity, and policy.

More information will be available as the event approaches.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

12:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

12:00 p.m. 1:10 p.m. – Opening Plenary Session

  • Welcome
  • State of Sustainability Conversation
    • William Murdock, Executive Director, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission
    • Doug Hooker, Executive Director, Atlanta Regional Commission
  • Pecha Kucha presentation
  • Closing

1:15 pm. – 2:15 pm – Breakout Sessions

  • Growing at the Speed of Trust: A Conversation about Community, Trust, and Revitalization sponsored by COTA
    • Stakeholder buy-in does not always equate to the same support from the general public. For some Central Ohioans, an insight2050 approach is the obvious way to sustainably accommodate the region’s anticipated population growth. But for others, valid lived experiences and complicated perceptions about gentrification have tainted topics like density and revitalization. Community buy-in is an integral part of the insight2050 initiative and can only be gained through trust. But building trust takes time, and development shifts happen quickly. This breakout session is intended to be an honest, constructive conversation about the inclusivity of Central Ohio’s approach to development, and how the region can move forward from a history of structural inequalities to a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable future that is truly accessible to every Central Ohioan.
  • Trailmix! Making the Case for More sponsored by Murphy Epson
    • In 2018 Central Ohio Greenways developed a bold vision to add 500 more miles of high-quality regional trails to the existing network of 230 trail miles. Learn how data experts, advocates, public officials and private funders are making the case to rapidly fund and build these trails. Panelists will discuss how data-focused efforts prioritized trail projects based on potential positive impacts on public health, the environment, social equity and the economy – and how the session participants can help spread the word. By prioritizing and communicating the benefits of new trails, these innovative leaders are accelerating the pace of building this bold, timely and essential Regional Trail Vision.
  • House Bill 6 Redux : An Uncertain Future for Ohio’s Energy Standards sponsored by Kegler, Brown, Hill + Ritter
    • The events that have shaped 2020 have been unexpected and tumultuous. Energy policy in the state of Ohio has matched the volatility of the year. This summer, we learned of the corrupt actions that allegedly transpired to pass House Bill 6 – a bill that makes Ohio electricity consumers subsidize two nuclear power plants, and two coal-burning power plants – and protect it from a statewide referendum. Hear from a group of bipartisan state legislators leading the charge to repeal and potentially replace House Bill 6.
  • Rivers Run Through Us: Reconnecting People to Waterways
    • Metro Atlanta is home to many great natural treasures, such as the Chattahoochee, Flint, and South Rivers, but access to these waterways in many areas is limited. In this session, hear from regional experts about three different initiatives that are all leveraging strong partnerships with a similar goal – reconnecting people to waterways through collaborative, community-based conservation to meet social equity and environmental objectives. The Chattahoochee RiverLands, Finding the Flint, and South River Forest projects are at different stages, but all aim to reconnect the community to the natural environment by creating new trail networks and parks near rivers and greenspaces, while preserving these vital natural resources.
  • Weathering the Storm for Home Weatherization
    • This session explores the recent disruptions to home energy efficiency program delivery due to the pandemic, how practices and programs are evolving to meet the challenges, and the critical partnerships that help make the work possible. These programs are more important than ever for increasing the safety and comfort of the home while reducing household energy costs. Eliminating hazardous gas leaks and improving ventilation for better indoor air quality means a healthier living environment, and making energy efficient upgrades means lowering household energy costs for low-income and recently unemployed residents. Not to mention, energy consumption has shifted to the home during the pandemic when many offices and schools remain closed, underscoring the value of home energy efficiency programs. Learn how these programs positively impact our communities, how you and your organization can help promote participation in the programs, and how they are being delivered safely to residents who can benefit the most.

 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 pm. – Breakout Sessions

  • Anyone… Anywhere… Anytime – sponsored by MKSK 
    • Active Transportation is one of the most cost effective and healthy ways to travel. Being able to bike, walk and other forms of human powered transportation represents freedom for people of all ages, abilities and economic status.  Unfortunately, this freedom is hindered by an incomplete network.  An incomplete network limits the use and potential thus limiting the benefits of active transportation.  Our session will feature speakers who will provide insight on how the current conditions impact their lives and how future efforts should be implemented to maximize use and benefits.
  • Telecommuting and the Environment: Policies, Benefits, and Unintended Consequences sponsored by Ramboll
    • Telecommuting, the not-so-new practice that millions of Americans are adjusting to, has the potential to reshape trends in commuting and polluting across the U.S. and here in Ohio. But will it lead to a net decrease in air pollution, or might it actually lead to an increase?  Would reductions in pollution from commuting be offset by increases due to new energy use patterns? What policies can communities and businesses adopt to maximize pollution reduction without unintended consequences?
  • COVID-19’s Impacts on Waste and Recycling Trends and Signs of Resilience sponsored by SWACO
    • Consumer behaviors driven by concerns over COVID-19 are impacting waste, reuse, and recycling industries for better or for worse. Across the nation, the solid waste industry has experienced a variety of disruptions, revenue losses, and shifts in volumes and material types. The COVID-19 health crisis has forced us to spend more time at home, leading to increases in residential waste from activities such as decluttering, preparing meals, and using home delivery or online shopping services that drive an increase in plastic bags and cardboard boxes. More time at home has also correlated to increasing residential interest in food scrap composting, and according to a recent study by The Ohio State University, there have been signs of consumer improvements in food management resulting in less waste. Join us to learn more about the emerging trends and how consumers and industries are evolving to create a resilient and sustainable future.
  • The Path Towards Transformation – Central Ohio’s Transition to a Clean Energy Economy sponsored by Smart Columbus Energy
    • Central Ohio’s clean energy transition is powering forward. With Columbus committing to 100% emission-free electricity by 2022, aggregation legislation sweeping the region, and equity taking center stage, Central Ohio is laying the foundation for a forward-thinking economy. Attendees will learn about the tools being used to power this transformation, how to integrate them into their community’s activities, and how we can collectively capitalize on this momentum to sustain Ohio’s leadership into the future.
  • City-Supported Agriculture. Community-Driven Planning
    • The recently-created East Point City Agriculture Plan is one that has cultivated community pride and relationships amongst East Point, GA residents, businesses, and local government. A joint effort between the Atlanta Regional Commission, Food Well Alliance, and the city – the plan grows East Point’s commitment towards socially equitable policies, programs, and sustainable land-use practices that benefit the community food system, ensuring economic and ecological opportunity now and for future generations. Join us to learn about the inclusive community engagement methods that were used to shape the plan, best practices and lessons learned, as well as plans for future urban agriculture initiatives in metro Atlanta.

3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. – Community Sustainability Committee Roundtable Discussion

Encouraging Excellence: Sustainable Community Recognition Programs sponsored by Honda

  • Healthy competition can spur leadership, innovation, and best practices in sustainability. Just ask participants in Atlanta Regional Commission’s Green Communities and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s Sustainable2050 programs. Attendees will learn about the influence of these community recognition programs on inspiring sustainability activities, and will be introduced to a new program from Ohio EPA that will celebrate community efforts at the State level. 


Friday, October 16, 2020

10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. – Welcome and Leadership in Sustainability Award 

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Breakout Sessions

  • Resilient Watersheds and Prepared Communities sponsored by Advanced Drainage Systems
    • Warmer temperatures combined with variable patterns in precipitation and polluted runoff will increasingly compromise our ability to effectively manage water supplies, floods, and critical water and wastewater infrastructure. The impacts can manifest differently across climate zones and landscapes, but climate change poses a shared challenge affecting the availability, quality, and quantity of water resources. Resilience planning provides an important framework for addressing unique challenges brought on by climate risks in order to protect vulnerable communities, critical infrastructure, and the availability of clean water. This session will highlight watershed informed approaches to resilience planning, along with the challenges and solutions presented from urban and rural landscapes.
  • The Pillars of Social Equity: Overcoming Racial Disparities to Build a more Sustainable Future
    • This session is designed to address incorporating social equity in our bodies of work.  Many of our local governments are struggling with what they can do or should be doing in this arena and this workshop will provide valuable context.  The panel will also discuss social determinants that may contribute to disparities and inequities among minorities, which COVID-19 has heightened the national awareness.
  • Community Action through Data
    • Data can inform the work of the region’s communities and partners, as we strive toward sustainability goals. Visible data contributes to a shared, evidence-driven understanding of the region’s strengths and weaknesses. It illuminates where we can improve and the successes that are worth celebrating. Moving beyond the data and towards progress requires data that engages multiple audiences with varying technical skill levels and specific needs. Our session will preview the new MORPC dashboard, discuss lessons learned while building tools for public use, and share an example of another region’s sustainability dashboard that led to meaningful community action.
  • Resilient. Affordable. Bold. Regional Housing Strategies for Equitable Growth sponsored by Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority
    • The past decade has been one of historic growth for both Central Ohio and Metro Atlanta, and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Growth, demographic changes, and ongoing effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic are sending the regions’ already-competitive real estate markets into overdrive even as they are putting an increasing number of residents at risk of eviction or foreclosure.Central Ohio and the Atlanta Region have responded to these alarming trends with stakeholder-driven regional housing strategies: investment and policy recommendations to ensure current and future residents can attain housing in neighborhoods of their choice. With sustainable growth and economic competitiveness on the line, these regions envision a future where growth and recovery help realize more equity among their residents, not less. Learn how housing can be a platform for equitable growth and recovery with the actions of the Central Ohio Regional Housing Strategy and the Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy.
  •  Incorporating Resilience into ARC’s Data-Driven Transportation Planning Process
    • The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) recently completed a localized development of the City Simulator modeling tool with the help of a resiliency planning grant from FHWA. City Simulator is an ArcGIS extension designed to provide an assessment of the impact of extreme weather events on the region as a whole and to identify areas within the region vulnerable to outsized impacts. ARC will discuss the regional implementation of the City Simulator tool and the agency’s plans to incorporate the tool and its outputs into its transportation planning work, including creating metrics designed to promote resilient development in target areas.

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Closing Plenary Session

  • Welcome
  • Regional Sustainability Awards
    • Collaborative Achievement Award
    • Leadership in Mobility Award
  • Keynote & Moderated Discussion – Dr. Katharine Hayhoe
  • Closing
Keynote Speaker - Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe is an accomplished atmospheric scientist who studies climate change and why it matters to us here and now. She is also a remarkable communicator who has received the American Geophysical Union’s climate communication prize, the Stephen Schneider Climate Communication award, the United Nations Champion of the Earth award, and been named to a number of lists including Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Thinkers, and FORTUNE magazine’s World’s Greatest Leaders.

Katharine is currently the Political Science Endowed Professor in Public Policy and Public Law and co-directs the Climate Center at Texas Tech University. She has a B.Sc. in Physics from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Illinois, and she has been awarded honorary doctorates from Colgate University and Victoria University at the University of Toronto.

Join us to hear from Dr. Hayhoe on the second day of the 2020 Summit on Sustainability!

Regional Sustainability Awards

The Regional Sustainability Awards are presented to those who have made significant contributions to the region in the area of sustainability.

The Leadership in Sustainability Award recognizes an individual or entity exemplifying outstanding leadership and innovation in seeking comprehensive sustainability solutions to address key challenges facing the region.

The Collaborative Achievement in Sustainability Award recognizes a group of entities or individuals who have shown effectiveness in producing environmental accomplishments through a collaborative effort.

In memory of William A. “Bill” Lewis, Jr., former Chief Mobility Engineer of the City of Columbus, the Leadership in Mobility Award recognizes an individual, either professional or student, exemplifying outstanding work towards creating a world-class multi-modal transportation system for Central Ohio.

Those interested in sponsorship opportunities for the Summit on Sustainability should contact Amanda McEldowney at or 614.233.4112.

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