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Monday, August 13

8:30 – 10:00 a.m. | Opening Plenary

Joan Iverson Nassauer, University of Michigan

Joan Iverson NassauerJoan Iverson Nassauer, Professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan, develops ecological design proposals and investigates how human experience is affected by and can sustain socially and environmentally beneficial landscape patterns. Linking environmental performance with social benefits, she has developed green infrastructure approaches for several cities. Currently, she leads the NEW-GI project, Neighborhood, Environment, and Water research collaborations for Green Infrastructure in Detroit. She also leads social science investigations for the NSF-funded Smart and Connected Communities project: “Overcoming Social and Technical Barriers for the Broad Adoption of Smart Stormwater Systems”. The author of more than 80 refereed papers and books, she wrote about water quality and health in agricultural landscapes in From the Corn Belt to the Gulf: Societal and Environmental Implications of Alternative Agricultural Futures (2007, Resources for the Future Press), and urban green infrastructure in Placing Nature: Culture and Landscape Ecology (1997, Island Press).

A Fellow by the American Society of Landscape Architects (1992), she was named Distinguished Scholar by the International Association of Landscape Ecology (IALE) (2007) and Distinguished Practitioner of Landscape Ecology in the United States (1998). She is co-Editor-in-Chief of Landscape and Urban Planning.

Joan's presentation, entitled "A Commitment to Civic Well-being," focuses on how the installation of green infrastructure (GI) becomes more pervasive and integral to the functioning of stormwater management systems, and ways in which civic commitments implied by GI differ from the objectives of grey infrastructure deserve further attention.

Some differences stem from the expectation that GI will be multi-functional, with implied commitments to neighborhood appeal, resident well-being, and biodiversity.  Other differences stem from widespread characterizations of GI as a more “natural” way to manage stormwater, beliefs that GI can be designed to be more resilient to extreme weather events, and assumptions that its costs are lower than for grey infrastructure.  Related differences point to maintenance requirements for and functional longevity of GI for stormwater management.  Because the visible characteristics of GI in the urban landscape are essential to its appeal, she will discuss how GI design for visual effect can help to ensure that GI delivers on its implied commitment to civic well-being over the long-term, even as knowledge about GI stormwater functions grows. 

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