MORPC’s Annual Summit on Sustainability: Moving Forward Together

More than 300 attendees gathered in person on October 15th for MORPC’s annual Summit on Sustainability at the Hilton Columbus Downtown. The Summit on Sustainability is MORPC’s signature environmental conference bringing together community leaders from across the state to explore and share sustainable ideas and solutions and celebrate individuals and collaborative sustainability efforts with the Regional Sustainability Awards. This year’s summit, “Moving Forward Together,” was presented by SWACO.

Dana Bourland, author of Gray to Green Communities: A Call to Action on the Climate and Housing Crisis, was this year’s keynote speaker. During her presentation, Bourland emphasized the need for planners and developers to move away from the gray housing model toward a green housing model, which considers the health and well-being of residents, their communities, and the planet. With housing affordability at the top of mind for many communities, Bourland reiterated the importance of planning more holistically as communities seek to address this critical issue.

Each year, the Summit on Sustainability recognizes individuals and organizations that have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to sustainability planning and practices across the region. This year’s Regional Sustainability Award recipients included James Schimmer, Chair of MORPC’s Sustainability Advisory Committee and Franklin County Economic Development Director received the Leadership in Sustainability Award. Brad Westall, Greenways Planner for the City of Columbus Recreation & Parks Department, was awarded the Leadership in Mobility Award. The RAPID 5 Project, a collaborative visioning project that focuses on integrating natural resources, parks, and rivers into the fabric of the community, received the Collaborate Achievement in Sustainability Award.

Energy, water quality, materials management, active transportation, social equity, and economic development were some of the topics featured at the day-long summit. The event again included an attendee favorite, Pecha Kucha-style presentations from Ty Marsh of SWACO, Carolyn Thurman from the City of Westerville, Jennifer Fish from Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Compost Clubhouse Kids.

This year’s summit was made possible thanks to SWACO (event sponsor), The Ohio State University (program sponsor), Ohio University (network sponsor), and its supporting sponsors: COTA, Ohio EPA, and Columbus State Community College. Breakout session sponsors included Kegler, Brown, Hill + Ritter, MurphyEpson, Ramboll, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Honda, and Transit Columbus.

Portions of the 2021 Summit on Sustainability can be viewed on MORPC’s website at To view a copy of MORPC’s Regional Sustainability Agenda, visit

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Níel Jurist

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Melissa Rapp

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