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Monday, June 14, 2010

Take a walk (and then a seat)

What began as a simple idea for how to create a more walkable Emory almost nine months ago has now evolved into Emory’s first online sustainability map.

As you may have noticed when visiting it online (go ahead and take a look, we’ll wait), the map functions as a tool for pedestrian (which applies to those with disabilities) and biker travel as well as other alternative modes of transportation.

Under Emory’s larger carbon reduction goals, the map also presents a new way to positively influence the commuting and travel behaviors of Emory staff, faculty, and students.

However, the creation of this important sustainability resource and tool was wrought with challenges, including very limited financing and time.

The $18,000 grant provided by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the Office of Sustainability Initiatives’ matching funding covered just the basics in map animation and features. Fortunately, our skilled mapmakers used mutable map layers that made the map cheaper to produce and even cost-efficient to add onto in the future.

The map itself was planned and created in less than four months. And we were again fortunate to have completed much of our initial planning and information collecting at a charrette that provided participation from the ULI and several groups from across Emory’s campus, including the CDC, Emory Healthcare, the Emory Predictive Health Initiative and the Emory Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.

The charrette gave everyone involved the chance to go out onto Emory’s campus to map walking trails and other related points of interest. In addition to being the most involved and enjoyable meeting that I have ever attended, the charrette also gave the map a big push in the right direction (no compass required).

The variety of walks is exciting and inspiring, and they truly highlight the beauty of the Emory campus. If you are interested in civil rights, Emory history, sustainable gardens and buildings, or art, the map has routes already drawn out for you. (Harold Rittenberry’s “Untitled Steel Bench” in the photo above is on our Art Walk.)

Throughout the summer we’ll highlight campus walks right here on EAAvesdropping.

So despite the limited resources and hours that went into the creation of the sustainability map, the cost-efficiency of the technology and the effectiveness of the ULI charette for planning the map have made this project an extremely successful one.

-- Tammie Smith 08Ox 10C, intern, Office of Sustainability Initiatives

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