Spiro Pollalis, “Sustainability and Climate Change: From Science to Design”

Event Description:

The upcoming national investment in infrastructure is most welcomed; it will add jobs and stimulate the economy. However, it is imperative for the infrastructure to be sustainable, resilient, and mitigate climate change. How can that be ensured?

Since its founding in 2008, the research at the Zofnass Program has focused on providing tools for designers and planners to measure the sustainability and resilience of infrastructure. Recently, the focus is on expanding the tools for mitigating climate change. Today, the outcome of the Zofnass Program empowers both sides: the design professionals and the public agencies to specify the expectations contractually, level the field for sustainability promises, and monitor the results. Furthermore, the tools educate, provide insight, and promote collaboration among design professionals towards a common objective.

The presentation will follow the trajectory of the vision and goals and the associated deliverables. The guiding principles have always been that “you cannot improve unless you can measure” and “do the right project.” Urban infrastructure projects in landscape, stormwater and clean water bodies, and transportation will be used as vehicles to present the tools. City planning examples will follow, including the planning of the Allston campus for Harvard. The presentation will provide insights on the adopted research inquiry to engage the industry and academia best and several anecdotes and debates on crucial decision-making milestones towards developing useful tools.


Prof. Pollalis, now Emeritus, has been Professor of Design Technology and Management at the Graduate School of Design since 1986. He is the Director of the Zofnass Program for the Sustainability of Infrastructure, which has developed the Envision® rating system and the Planning Guidelines for Sustainable Cities, and the Principal Investigator of the research project “Gulf Sustainable Urbanism” (2010-2013). He has taught as a visiting professor at Uni-Stuttgart, TU-Delft, and ETH-Zurich. He has published several books and articles in journals and has given many lectures at conferences.

In his private practice, Prof. Pollalis consults worldwide on sustainability, urbanism, and management. He is a consultant to the GSA, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the UNEP, the NRCC, and the Greek Government. He has led the National Urban Assessment of Pakistan and has planned sustainable cities in Asia, including the DHA City Karachi, which is under construction.

Prof. Pollalis received his first degree from the University in Athens (EMP) and his Master’s and PhD from MIT. His MBA in high technology is from Northeastern University. He has an honorary Master’s degree in Architecture from Harvard.



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