"We've designed physical activities and green space out of our communities. It's called a 'nature deficit.'"
Ed McMahon holds the Charles E. Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development and Environmental Policy at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in Washington, D.C.
He is nationally known as an inspiring and thought-provoking speaker and a leading authority on topics such as the links between health and the built environment, sustainable development, land conservation, smart growth, and historic preservation.
Recent Writing and Speaking Engagements
- Where Am I? The Power of Uniqueness (October 24, 2014)
- Neighborhood Vibrancy: Older and Smaller Can Sometimes Be Better (August 28, 2014)
- In Building Size and Age, Variety Yields Vibrancy (August 7, 2014)
- Make the Journey Better (June 20, 2014)
- Walmart Goes Urban and Smaller (February 27, 2014)
- Building Healthy Places: ULI Reaches Out and Builds Awareness (December 27, 2013)
- Building Healthy Places: Three Models in Colorado (August 12, 2013)
- The Secret of Successful Communities (July 29, 2013)
- Keeping the Lid on D.C.: Build Better, Not Just Bigger (March 15, 2013)
Ten Principles for Building Healthy Places (November 2013)
The report from ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative sets out ten important principles that can be used to create a new approach to building healthy communities. The principles in the report, if acted upon, will help people live longer, more productive lives; reduce unhealthy lifestyles; help improve a community’s competitive advantages; and allow developers, investors, local governments, and citizens to prosper in the 21st century.
Practical how-to information for conservation-minded urban planning professionals is provided in this invaluable guide. The importance of natural lands or open space in master-planned communities—either in the suburbs or on the edge of existing cities—is thoroughly explained and coupled with examples of conservation-oriented housing developments that incorporate this key component.
In the News
- Alabama.com. Strong leadership, smart growth: Development expert gives advice on how Mobile can revitalize downtown (September 30, 2014)
- Alabama.com. Businesses, innovators honored at Downtown Mobile Alliance’s annual meeting (September 29, 2014)
- Memphis Flyer. Greenprint Plan Proposes 500 Miles of Greenways (September 4, 2014)
- Memphis Daily News. Greenprint Advocates Tout Range of Benefits (August 28, 2014)
- This Big City. Let’s Talk Cities: Fifteen of the Best Urbanism Quotes (August 12, 2014)
- The Des Moines Register: Invest in us, too, Des Moines neighborhoods say (July 28, 2014)
- Los Angeles Times: Connection to the land defines Rancho Mission Viejo ‘agrihood‘ (July 12, 2014)
- Smithsonian.com: Bringing the Farm to Your Backyard (July 11, 2014)
- The Courier-Journal: Building a Better Wal-Mart (May 23, 2014)
- National Public Radio: Urban Greengrocers Are Back, to Serve Big-Spending Locavores (May 2, 2014)
- Neighbor Newspapers: Sustainability Expert Touts Conservation Benefits in Sandy Springs (April 24, 2014)
- Democrat & Chronicle: Historic Preservation Focus of Conference. (April 25, 2014)
As the Senior Fellow for Sustainable Development, Ed McMahon leads ULI’s worldwide efforts to conduct research and educational activities related to environmentally sensitive development policies and practices. He is also a senior staff adviser for ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative, and is a sought-after speaker and thinker on health and real estate. He is currently at work on a major new report, Active Transportation and Real Estate: New Frontiers in Development, which will be released at ULI’s Spring Meeting in Houston in May 2015.
Before joining the Institute in 2004, McMahon spent 14 years as the vice president and director of land use planning for the Conservation Fund in Arlington County, Virginia, where he helped protect more than 5 million acres of land of historic or natural significance. McMahon is also the cofounder and former president of Scenic America, a national nonprofit organization devoted to protecting America’s scenic landscapes. Before that, he taught law and public policy at Georgetown University Law Center for nine years, and served in the U.S. Army, both at home and abroad.
McMahon is the author or coauthor of 15 books, including Conservation Communities: Creating Value with Nature, Open Space, and Agriculture; Better Models for Development in Virginia; Developing Sustainable Planned Communities; Green Infrastructure: Connecting Landscape and Communities; Land Conservation Finance; and Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities.
He also writes regularly for Urban Land magazine, Citiwire, Planning Commissioners Journal, and other periodicals.
Over the past 25 years, McMahon has helped communities in all 50 states with a wide variety of community planning and economic development issues. He serves on several advisory boards and commissions, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Maryland, the Governor’s Institute for Community Design, the Doris Duke Charitable Fund, and the Orton Family Foundation.
McMahon has an MA in urban studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a JD from Georgetown University Law School. He and his wife live in Takoma Park, Maryland.