Not-So-Secret Guide to Sustainability: 2023 ULI Spring Meeting
Check out a full list of Sustainability-focused events at the 2022 ULI Spring Meeting!
Around the world, communities face pressing health challenges related to the built environment. Individual and public health outcomes are the result of many factors related to where people live and work and the influence that their homes, workplaces, and communities exert on their well-being. A core component of thriving communities, health is shaped by an accumulation of factors from housing to transportation, education, and job opportunities — the social determinants of health.
Despite a growing understanding of connections between health and the built environment, many places are created in ways that do not support holistic health and wellness for people and the planet. Deep structural and longstanding inequities and injustices plague U.S. cities and communities and jeopardize the health and the promise of too many people.
Climate change is increasing the vulnerability of already marginalized people, exposing them to myriad health and financial risks. These challenges require urgent solutions, and the real estate industry has a key role to play in addressing pressing health challenges and proactively promoting health and social equity.
In 2013, ULI’s Board of Directors approved a focus on healthy communities as a cross-disciplinary theme for the organization. The Building Healthy Places (BHP) Initiative is managed by a dedicated team with a strong understanding of the connections between health and the built environment. The Building Healthy Places Initiative staff works to connect ULI’s powerful global networks with research and resources to move the conversation forward.
In 2017, Building Healthy Places became one of the three flagship programs of the ULI Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance, along with the Urban Resilience Program and the Greenprint Center for Building Performance. The Center is dedicated to driving more sustainable, environmentally responsible, and financially successful outcomes in real estate development and investment, and to helping ULI members create healthy, resilient, and resource-efficient communities around the world. The Center advances knowledge and catalyzes adoption of transformative market practices and policies that lead to improved sustainability, health, resource efficiency, and resilience.
Since its inception, Building Healthy Places has produced a wide variety of reports and publications, provided technical assistance to cities across the country, and has held regular member convenings with the goals of cultivating champions, driving industry change, and making cities and regions healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable.
For more information or to be added to our mailing list, contact us anytime at [email protected].
Senior Vice President, Building Healthy Places
Rachel MacCleery is Senior Vice President at the Urban Land Institute, where she leads the organization’s Building Healthy Places Initiative and other programs. Rachel is spearheading ULI’s efforts to leverage the power of its global networks to shape projects and places in ways that improve the health of people and communities, through design and programming strategies that increase opportunities for physical activity, social engagement, access to healthy food and nature, and other ingredients of holistically healthy living. Rachel has extensive knowledge of land use, environment and sustainability, social equity, and infrastructure policy and practice issues. Rachel has worked at ULI since 2008 and previously worked for AECOM and the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. She has a Masters Degree in Public Administration and Urban and Regional Planning. She speaks Mandarin Chinese and has lived in China off and on since 1994. She currently lives in Washington, DC.
William Zeh Herbig, AICP
Senior Director, Building Healthy Places
William Zeh Herbig is Senior Director, Content at the Urban Land Institute, where he oversees a portfolio of content and programs focused on the intersection of health and social equity in the built environment. Prior to ULI, he co-led Kimley-Horn’s Atlanta-based Planning and Urban Design Studio. He has also directed a variety of design-related projects at Midtown Alliance in Atlanta, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the Congress for New Urbanism both in Washington, D.C., and the Markle Foundation in Manhattan.
Will holds a Masters degree in City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a B.S. in Urban Studies from Georgia State University, and studied architecture at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Will is a graduate of ULI Washington’s Regional Land Use Leadership Institute and was named a 2010 Next City Vanguard. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for PEDS (Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety) and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).
Senior Director, Building Healthy Places
Matthew Norris supports the Building Healthy Places Initiative and works on projects linking health, sustainability and development. He is the primary or contributing author of several ULI publications, including “Healthy Housing for All: How Affordable Housing is Leading the Way”, and “Cultivating Development: Trends and Opportunities at the Intersection of Food and Real Estate”.
Matt previously worked at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign where he focused on improving access to safe, reliable and equitable modes of transportation throughout southern New Jersey and the Greater Philadelphia area. Matt earned his Master’s in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in 2010, where he focused on international development and comprehensive planning. Matt also holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Kansas.
Beth Nilsson, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C/BD+C, WELL AP
Director, Building Healthy Places
Beth Nilsson supports the Building Healthy Places Initiative through content creation and program management centered on the impacts of the built environment on health, well-being, and social equity. She is a primary author of ULI’s “Together: Strategies for Promoting Health and Community in Privately Owned Third Places”.
Prior to ULI, Beth worked at rand* construction as Senior Sustainability Specialist where she fostered an environment dedicated to advanced sustainable construction and creating healthy buildings and communities. Beth holds a MSc in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics, where her studies centered on health and sustainability in urban and regional planning. She also holds a B.A. in Interior Design from Marymount University.
Senior Manager, Building Healthy Places
Erin recently finished her master’s degree in urban and regional planning at the University of Florida where she spent her time researching equitable planning principles and their use in the pandemic through housing policy interventions. She worked at a graduate research assistant at the University’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies, where her work primarily focused on building a Heat + Housing + Health Equity task force of policy professionals, community organizers, and researchers in the Southeastern U.S.
Prior to pursuing grad school, Erin worked in communications for a waterfront real estate developer in downtown Tampa building a 56-acres of mixed-use, walkable, urban infill neighborhood. Her primary responsibility there was to conduct market research and community outreach to build knowledge about similar development projects for the board of investors as well as connect with neighbors about development impacts. In her spare time, she can be found hanging out with her dog, going for a bike ride, or reading a book.
Senior Manager, Centers and Initiatives
Victoria Oestreich is Senior Manager with the Centers & Initiatives (C&I) team where she supports a wide array of programming and research focused on the intersections between the built environment, health and social equity, sustainability, and resilience. She currently leads ULI’s Cohort for Park Equity program, which engages District Councils in advancing equitable access to high-quality parks via technical assistance, learning, and sharing. She also supports the Urban Resilience team on programs and research on extreme heat, drought, healthy and sustainability building materials, and real estate.
Prior to joining the C&I team, Victoria worked at ULI Northwest in Seattle, where she organized and participated in nearly a dozen Technical Assistance Panels, helped facilitate the curriculum for several cohorts of the Center for Leadership, and produced Leadership for Change—a 10-week diversity, equity, and inclusion-focused virtual leadership course for real estate professionals.
She holds a Master in Public Administration degree from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance and a B.A. in Psychology, both from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Senior Associate, Building Healthy Places
Emily Zhang supports Building Healthy Places’ programs and convenings that aim to cultivate champions for health and social equity in the built environment. As a geographer, she is curious and passionate about how places shape peoples’ lived experiences and how they can be catalysts for more equitable and livable futures for everyone. Before ULI, Emily supported U.S. Green Building Council’s local green schools programs in the D.C. metropolitan area. She was also a graduate research assistant for a National Science Foundation project called PIRE which focused on urban sustainability in the Arctic region. During her time with PIRE, she conducted mixed-methods research exploring the knowledge production process embedded in urban sustainability indicators, in both their creation and use. Emily received her BA in International Affairs and Geography and MS in Geography from the George Washington University.
ULI/Bucksbaum Senior Visiting Fellow
As Principal and Founder of Living Ecology Studio, Christina Contreras uses research, design, and community involvement in her work to prioritize equity in urban planning and design processes. She recognizes the value and importance of community-led projects to reinforce unique expression of local culture and community, to support community ownership, and to support the community’s health and economic goals. Key principals of the Living Ecology Studio practice include: by the community, for the community; recognizing life experience is expertise; studying relationships between the built environment and health; and celebrating Native American philosophies and relationships with land. Christina is particularly interested in exploring mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships between humans and the land and connecting with generations past and future through places and plants in the landscape.
ULI Senior Visiting Fellow for Equity
Calvin Gladney has spent the past 15 years working around the country to ensure that the revitalization of neighborhoods and corridors is done equitably, and that people in those areas have an equal shot at participating in the prosperity that can result from change. Mr. Gladney is Managing Partner of Mosaic Urban, and is a public-private partnership strategist, real estate developer, and trusted advisor to organizations seeking to sustainably transform urban communities. He is a trustee of ULI and a member of its national Public Private Partnership Council.
ULI Senior Visiting Fellow for Creative Placemaking
Juanita Hardy has over 41 years of business experience, including 31 years with IBM, and over 35 years in the arts as a nonprofit leader, trustee, collector, and patron of the arts. She is the former Executive Director of CulturalDC, a nonprofit committed to making space for artists and art organizations and fostering cultural and economic vibrancy in communities through its creative placemaking services.
Charles E. Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development and Environmental Policy
Ed McMahon is nationally known as an inspiring and thought-provoking speaker and leading authority on topics related to sustainable development, land conservation, smart growth, and historic preservation. McMahon is the author or coauthor of 15 books and more than 300 articles.
March 29, 2023
Check out a full list of Sustainability-focused events at the 2022 ULI Spring Meeting!
January 9, 2023
The sixteenth in the series of Building Healthy Places Forums will be held in conjunction with ULI's Spring Meeting in Toronto.
June 9, 2022
The Fifteenth in the series of Building Healthy Places Forums was held in conjunction with ULI's Fall Meeting in Dallas.
Don’t have an account? Sign up for a ULI guest account.