General Sessions at the Building Healthy Places: Unlocking the Value Conference

"The Legacy of Building Healthy Places" panelists

"The Legacy of Building Healthy Places" panelists

ULI Chair Lynn Thurber and conference co-chairs Peter Rummell and Anne Warhover, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation, opened the conference. Read more about their opening remarks here. Click here to review more conference-related information. Below are some highlights from the general sessions at the Building Healthy Places conference. What were the highlights for you? Let us know in the comments!

Health and Development: Unlocking the Value 

  • Thursday 9:15 – 10:30 a.m. [no presentation used]

The opening general session, moderated by ULI Chair Lynn Thurber, explored the links between health and real estate. The panelists emphasized the importance of developers and real estate professionals seeing themselves as being in the business of improving human health through what they are building, as well as the importance of ensuring everyone in society can see the benefits.

  • Dr. Richard Jackson, professor and chair, Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said that “The purpose of public health services is to create conditions where people can be healthy. Land developers can do more to provide health care than doctors, who cannot change people’s lives. Developers can change people’s lives [with what they build].”
  • Paul Scialla, founder of Delos Living, described his realization that “human sustainability” was as important a real estate focus as environmental sustainability.
  • From Anne Warhover, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation: “Your zip code is more important than your DNA code in determining your chances for good health.”


Global Challenges, Local Innovations

Moderated by ULI’s Chief Executive Officer Patrick Phillips, this general session offered examples and best practices of healthy design and planning from an array of international cities.

  • Thai Ker Liu, chairman of the Center for Liveable Cities in Singapore, spoke of ways Singapore has been used as an “urban laboratory” to test ideas for making it a healthy, liveable, and sustainable city.
  • Jacinta McCann, executive vice president of design, planning, and economics and AECOM, spoke of the importance of considering health as well as the culture of a place when working to improve the built environment.
  • Jeff Risom, partner at Gehl Architects, showcased Copenhagen as an example of a city that is working to redesign streets for bicyclists and pedestrians. “Bike networks,” he said, “need to be connected, consistent, comfortable, and continuous.”


Panelists (left to right) Anne Warhover, Paul Scialla, Dr. Richard Jackson, and Lynn Thurber (moderator) participate in the "Health and Development: Unlocking the Value" general session

Panelists (left to right) Anne Warhover, Paul Scialla, Dr. Richard Jackson, and Lynn Thurber (moderator) participate in the “Health and Development: Unlocking the Value” general session.

Attendees listen to panelists during a general session

Attendees listen to panelists during a general session.



The Legacy of Building Healthy Places: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Headed 

Moderated by Gadi Kaufmann, managing director and CEO at RCLCO, a panel of long-time ULI leaders and master planned community developers explored best practices for building healthy places, how they measure success, effective partnerships, and ways to advance the healthy place agenda, informed by their decades of experience developing master planned communities across the country. These developers described innovations in project design and programming:

  • Paul Johnson, senior vice president of community development at Rancho Mission Viejo, a 23,000 acre California project, described the development’s robust programming around physical activity.
  • Randall Lewis, Executive Vice President and Director of Marketing at Lewis Operating Company spoke about improving both projects and communities [read full remarks (external link)].
  • Robert Sharpe, managing partner at Rancho Sahuarita, emphasized the need for projects to be fun and build emotional ties that help neighbors connect with each other and the place.
  • Daniel Van Epp, executive vice president at Newland Real Estate Group, talked about the evolution of the field.
  • Tony Green, managing partner at the Pinehills in Massachusetts, which uses the marketing slogan “walk your inner dog,” described how the development has worked to preserve a feeling of nature and seclusion while fostering a sense of community and neighborhood identity.

Read the Urban Land article
on this session here.


What’s the Next Big Idea in Building Healthy Places?

  • Friday 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. [no presentation used]

Moderated by Lauralee Martin, CEO at HCP, Inc, this panel presented their thoughts on where the movement for healthy places should go next.

  • James Sallis, Director of Active Living Research, advocated for considerations of social and economic equity as imperative in this movement. Echoing comments from the opening general session, Sallis noted “The issue of equity is how to create healthy communities for everyone, how to reverse these inequalities…We in the health field want to work with you [real estate professionals] to address these disparity problems.”
  • Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO of PolicyLink, also raised the issue of social equity, and suggested that “The next big thing in healthy communities is tackling how to create a society in which we can all participate in healthier, more prosperous communities.”
  • Lewis Horne, executive managing director at CBRE, discussed how lessons from Amsterdam contributed to their desire to transition their traditional office space into a healthier, more efficient, more technology-savvy environment. This task, which has been well-received by employees, included removing all paper, desks, and conference rooms to create an open office with features such as standing desks.


Health at the City Scale

  • Friday 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. [no presentation used]

This closing general session featured a panel of city leaders, moderated by Abby Hall, policy analyst in the Office of Sustainable Communities at the U.S. EPA. At this session, city leaders discussed how they’re taking the initiative to move the dial on health in their cities:

  • The Honorable Chip Johnson, Mayor of Hernando, Mississippi, talked about the competitive advantage that the city has drawn from efforts to promote health [read an article by Mayor Johnson about the BHP Initiative and ways mayors can drive change (external link)] .
  • The Honorable James J. Schmitt, Mayor of Green Bay, Wisconsin, said that all children in the city know of the city’s “healthy zipcode” – 54218, which emphasizes the need for five servings of fruit or vegetables, four cups of water, less than two hours of screentime, and eight hours of sleep.
  • Rick Cole, Deputy Mayor, Budget and Innovation, City of Los Angeles, California, described the city’s efforts to be creative in addressing entrenched challenges.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *