(Olympia, Wash.) According to infrastructure experts, the U.S. will need to spend some $3.6 trillion by 2020 on our nation’s energy, transportation water and waste systems. Will we spend that money wisely, investing in creative new approaches and sustainable innovation which will be better for the environment and cheaper for tax-payers?
With the goal of creating innovative solutions to these massive public works challenges, The Evergreen State College has created the new Center for Sustainable Infrastructure. Based at the college’s Olympia campus, the center will link regional innovators, advocate sustainable best practices and develop skilled professionals who will put these principles into infrastructure development.
“Just to keep our economy working is going to require that we invest hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure along the Pacific Coast in the next few decades,” said Rhys Roth, the center’s director.
“There is an urgent need to bring world-class innovation, new tools, and sustainability excellence to our infrastructure planning and investment. The Northwest can be a national and global leader in sustainable infrastructure, and the center will help to make that happen,” Roth said.
The Pacific Northwest-based Bullitt Foundation, which supports sustainable development in the region, announced a $20,000 grant last week to help the initial launch of the center.
In addition to being a clearinghouse for best sustainable practices and an advising center for agencies, utilities and tribes managing infrastructure, the center will give graduate students from the college’s Master of Public Administration program opportunities to research, analyze and design infrastructure project proposals.
“At a time when huge investments in infrastructure are critical and when we need to find ways to moderate our environmental footprint, the work of the center is of particular importance,” said Evergreen Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs Michael Zimmerman. “The opportunity it will provide for students to become involved in such groundbreaking research is truly exciting.”