Top Takeaways on Sustainable Urbanization

Posted on February 26, 2016

UTC 2020 Sustainability Goals

Big goals lead to big results. Take a look at our newly announced 2020 sustainability goals. We’re proud to do our part to help the world urbanize in a sustainable manner.

It’s been about a week since the official launch of our 2020 Sustainability Goals. These goals are reflective of our continued support of sustainable urbanization – in the past and for the future.

Growing Cities: An Atlantic Forum on Sustainable Urbanization was an outstanding event, featuring insightful comments from UTC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Greg Hayes.

United Technologies President & Chief Executive Officer, Greg Hayes, speaks with Matthew Bishop, Senior Editor, The Economist Group, about sustainability as an imperative for business moving forward.

Following his remarks, each of the panel discussions brought new insights to the opportunities ahead of us. Here are five of my key takeaways:

1. UTC’s President and CEO Greg Hayes put it best when he said that sustainability is not an option for business moving forward – it’s an imperative. Our urbanizing world needs sustainable solutions, and we can and must make that happen. It’s our responsibility and our obligation.

Atlantic panel

1. L to R: Steve Clemons, Washington Editor At Large, The Atlantic; Joseph Allen, Director of the Healthy Buildings Program, Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment; Nilda Mesa, Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability; and Russell Unger, Executive Director, Urban Green.

2. As pointed out by Professor Joe Allen, Director of the Healthy Buildings program at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment and Principal Investigator of The COGfx Study, supported by UTC, many around the world are looking for the scientific evidence that shows buildings can be energy efficient, productive and healthy all at the same time. At UTC, we believe that data drives decisions – and with better data, people will make better decisions on buildings. We will continue to support research that provides this data to further accelerate the green building movement.
3. When we talk about how far we’ve come in green buildings and technologies, Russell Unger, Executive Director of Urban Green, made a powerful point. He said that the question is not “are we making things greener,” but “are we making green things fast enough?’” It’s important that we continue our efforts to help the world urbanize sustainably – and technologies exist today to make that happen.

Atlantic panel

2. L to R: Steve Clemons, Washington Editor At Large, The Atlantic; Maria Aiolova, Academic Director of Global Programs, CIEE and Co-Founder, Terreform ONE; Gary Handel, President, Handel Architects; and Sharon Pinkerton, Senior Vice President, Legislative and Regulatory Policy, Airlines for America.

4. Sharon Pinkerton, Senior Vice President, Legislative and Regulatory Policy for Airlines for America, spoke about how aviation is unique, connecting the world and being truly global. Another point she raised was that it will take airlines working with the entire family of aviation to meet carbon reduction targets. UTC is proud to do its part for green aviation, starting with the world’s most fuel-efficient jet engine.
5. Dan Barber, Chef at Blue Hill and wastED, was particularly insightful in his discussion on food waste. He explained that throughout the history of cuisines, many dishes we love to eat today are in some way based on the utilization of waste. Dan takes an all-of-the-above approach to reduce food waste, including the need to create a culture that refuses to waste delicious food.

Dan Barber

Dan Barber, Chef, Blue Hill and Founder, wastED.

We couldn’t agree more. When we waste less, we feed more with big dividends for the environment, which is why we explored these issues in a book I co-authored called Food Foolish: The Hidden Connection Between Food Waste, Hunger and Climate Change.

Overall, perhaps the most important takeaway was the understanding that helping the world urbanize sustainably will require everyone to work together and continue the global dialogue.

Each of us has a role to play, including United Technologies. We’re doing our part because we believe that profitable, responsible operations should not compromise the environmental or economic health of future generations.

Sustainable urbanization is one piece of the solution – we’ll need collaboration and conversation to move the world forward. I’m confident that we can do so, because we’ve shown that sustainability works.

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