Director of Environmental Affairs for the Building Industry Association of Southern California, Inc. (BIASC), Mark Grey, Ph.D., just returned from a five-city, two-week tour of China as part of a group of professional engineers, scientists, and landscape architects from Orange County, California who work on Integrated Water Resources Management.
The Orange County group attended the 2016 Low Impact Development Conference in Beijing, conducting a half-day workshop on experiences with implementing low impact development stormwater best management practices in California, and at the 2nd Sino-US Sponge City & LID Technology Practice Conference 2016 in Suzhou, a distant suburb of Shanghai.
In between conferences, the Orange County group met with Chinese government officials in the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, and Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning, as well as with numerous professors, graduate students, and research teams who are supporting the “Sponge City” initiative, to gather new ideas and share information and lessons learned. The “Sponge City” initiative is an attempt to introduce and eventually require the use of low impact development best practices to retain and filter storm water runoff generated by new and redevelopment activities in 30 major Chinese cities.
“The Chinese people face many of the same environmental challenges we face here in the United States, including how to adapt the existing urban public infrastructure to use new, sustainable green infrastructure practices and techniques and continue to provide a high level of public safety and protection from flooding. I was impressed with the breadth of thinking on the part of Chinese public works officials and the academic community supporting them," Grey said. Integrated water resource management is in the forefront of thinking in China, as it is here in USA, and the Chinese officials we met with at all levels are interested in forming collaborations and sharing information with public works officials from the US.
"It was an honor and a privilege to represent BIASC and the Construction Industry Coalition on Water Quality in China and share our advocacy experiences and insights. We are stronger technically because our ideas and philosophies used in our advocacy for building and construction here in the US transcend borders, and resonated with the Chinese officials I met.”
While at the International conference, Dr. Grey was invited back to China to speak at the International Workshop on Green City and Policy Innovation next week on July 21 and 22. It will be hosted by China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Center, Ministry of Environmental Protection. This workshop will focus on sustainable urban development, policy, planning tools, and case studies and will be held in the historic city of Xi'an.