Sustain Worcester

As Worcester continues to grow, community members and city officials have started to ask the all-important questions: “How can we pay attention to sustainability? What is best for the city and the people of Worcester?”
September 10, 2013

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, a panel of experts will begin to address sustainability issues at “Building a Sustainable Worcester,” part of the Access Hanover Lyceum Series held at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts. Taking a local and global view, the panel and the audience will address questions about how building, development, and infrastructure will affect the quality of life in the city and ways to make Worcester a pleasant, efficient, and energy-focused place to live and work.

“We want to be really thoughtful about what we do and what will sustain us as a city moving forward,” says Nel Lazour, director of development for the Hanover Theatre. “What makes sense for Worcester?”

Everyone in the WPI community is invited to attend the event, sponsored by PRISM Energy Services, free of charge by reserving tickets through the box office at 877-571-7469 or ordering them online and entering the code PARTNER. Lazour encourages individuals, groups, or even entire classes to check it out.

And while many think of sustainability as being energy efficient and ensuring new buildings are LEED-certified, there is also the question of quality of life and enjoying or increasing features like walkways, bike paths, and green spaces in the city.

“The most important message is that the work being done by a student team has taken on a life of its own, and it is a different type of sustainability,” says Looft.

Last year, two similar events sparked questions and discussions that brought this year’s presentation together, says Lazour. “There were questions about what people would like to see and the direction of what was happening,” she says. “The questions got us thinking about sustainability and bringing that topic to light.”

Linda Carre Looft, WPI’s assistant vice president for government and community relations, will moderate the panel that includes John Odell of Worcester Energy, Edward White of National Grid, Melissa Lucas of UMass Medical School, and Steve Fisher of Regional Environmental Council.

The colleges in Worcester play a significant role in Worcester’s future, with each of them developing their own visions and plans for sustainability on campus. Locally, WPI, Clark University, and Holy Cross collaborate as members of the SynergE Tri-Campus Sustainability Leadership Council where they share their best practices, says Looft, helping any initiatives or solutions move forward more quickly.

Campus initiatives play a role, but the students themselves constantly look for ways to help the city shine. For instance, students at WPI are involved in a project that hopes to bring expanded bike paths to Worcester to connect the colleges and the downtown area as well, says Looft.

“The most important message is that the work being done by a student team has taken on a life of its own, and it is a different type of sustainability,” says Looft.  What started as a student initiative has expanded to bring together a task force with city officials, other colleges, WalkBike Worcester, and community members.

Looft says this event will highlight how the community is working together and how  important collaboration is when considering all kinds of sustainability.

“If we can share what we know, we might encourage others to become involved,” says Looft. “They will get a sense of the existing collaborations and that will inspire others to do similar types of work.”

—Julia Quinn-Szcesuil