Low Impact Development

Low Impact DevelopmentMore than 800 attendees were on hand for the 2013 International Low Impact Development (LID) Symposium in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This was the sixth edition of this event. Dr. Avi Friedman of McGill University (Montreal) delivered an inspiring opening keynote that strongly encouraged collaboration among different disciplines. Environmentally responsible design connects everyone—and for it to succeed it requires input (and listening) from everyone.
Immediately following the speech, a number of attendees utilized the conference’s unique Twitter hashtag (#LIDSym13) to post their reactions. A couple samples:
“Avi Friedman’s opening talk encourages us to get out of our silos and collaborate with others”
“Avi Friedman speaking, first degree in urban planning. Now one of top 10 people to change the world.”

Low Impact Development.
800+ attendees took part in the event’s opening. It was just as crowded ahead of the final sessions two days later.

If inspiration could be commonplace, that may be this LID event’s legacy. As attendees fanned out into the various tracks, their energy increased. Even challenged to choose between up to 12 concurrent sessions, they were engaged and their discussions were lively. They focused on greenroofs, urban retrofits, regulatory successes. They shared cost/benefit data on forested buffers, sustainable housing materials, sediment load reduction in watersheds.
Roughly 300 presentations were delivered, with each speaker given 20 to 30 minutes—and they needed every second.
The International LID Symposium is a unique event in that few of the professionals attending, presenting or exhibiting are specialized in only one aspect of low impact development. Dr. Friedman’s broad message on working with all those who bring something else to the table captured what successful low impact development is: an understanding that no single action or person or product is enough.
Low impact development
Geotextiles are used in many low impact development designs, such as for establishing healthier urban trees conditions

If you work in greenroofs, you also work in sediment load reduction and vegetation establishment and building efficiency. If you work on MS4 permitting, you work with streambank stabilization, urban forestation, inlet protection, underground piping, and water quality analysis.
If you are involved with LID, you are involved essentially with everything in low impact development: concept, execution, community interaction, etc.
This is unique among conferences. At most diverse track events, you choose between disparate subjects such as wall block specifications and post-construction monitoring of landfill temperatures. Few people at that sort of construction and engineering event need to be at both. But at LID, you might have to choose between watershed management and TMDL reduction sessions. They are inextricably linked. Most things in low impact development are.
This was a key component to why the 2013 International Low Impact Development Symposium was so filled with energy. You might think you work only in A, but at every turn there was a B, C, D, etc. to learn from. Attendees really connected to that.
Low Impact Development
From rooftops to what Sweden’s Örjan Stal called “The Hidden City” of buried infrastructure, low impact development can touch and improve it all.

We would be remiss if we did not recognize the extraordinary work performed by the conference’s chief technical leads: John Chapman (University of Minnesota), Michael Isensee (Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization), and Jay Michaels (Emmons and Olivier Resources, Inc.).  It was no small feat for them to pull off such a successful event when, simultaneously, the larger, longer-running StormCon was taking place in South Carolina. But they did it, and they did it well.
Multiple attendees at LID commented on how well the event had unfolded and on the strength of the sessions, the variety of tracks, and the networking and social opportunities.
“This is the best LID Symposium to date,” was often heard.
The Symposium set the bar for this event series. The energy now moves to Houston, where the 7th International Low Impact Development Symposium will be held. (Dates to be finalized soon.)
Finally, the technical organizers of this event could not have done it alone. Events are quite difficult to manage, and the complexity of this event’s execution was certainly a challenge. A huge thank you is due to the University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing Education conference management team. They were exceptional. Their experience, friendliness, and guidance were deeply appreciated by all.
See you in Houston!