Ladd Keith works to create the next generation of sustainable developers, community developers, planners, and architects. He leads the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The program aims to prepare students with a science-based approach to planning and design that they can apply to make communities, buildings, and landscapes more sustainable.
Keith has been praised for his community-based approach of bringing practitioners into the classroom and students into the field, which helps build relationships and long-lasting commitments to sustainability and neighborhood development. “We recently launched a fully online version of the degree. So it’s exciting to have students from all over the country in the program now and sharing their local perspectives with each other,” he says.
Keith has taken a hands-on role in helping guide sustainable development in Tucson. He chaired the planning commission during the city government’s Plan Tucson process, which was ratified by voters and adopted in 2013. The first general plan in Tucson based on a holistic sustainability framework, it lays out a long-term vision for the city that incorporates environmental, economic, and social considerations. In addition, Keith was involved with the redevelopment of downtown Tucson through the creation of overlay zones that incentivize infill development.
Another key focus for Keith is researching climate change resilience issues. Currently, he is involved in a research project that is conducting an urban resilience assessment of cities in the Southwest to see how well prepared they are for climate change–related impacts, such as drought, increased heat, forest fires, and extreme rainfall events.