Sumner Swaner founded the Ecological Planning Center with a gift to the University of Utah Department of City & Metropolitan Planning in 2011. He is a landscape architect, American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) planner, and real estate developer. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning for 15 years. In the 1970′s, Mr. Swaner worked for the State of Utah Division of Natural Resources as a terrestrial and aquatic ecologist. Subsequently, as a real estate developer, he has focused on creating a balance of open space and developed land. He has developed more than 150 acres in Western Summit County, Utah and is one of the founding family members of the Swaner Nature Preserve and Eco Center, currently owned and operated by Utah State University. Development, including preservation, of these Swaner family lands represents one of the best examples of combined development and conservation in America.
Mr. Swaner’s expertise has been applied in a variety of areas. He served as the chairman of the Natural History Museum of Utah planning and design committee, which was responsible for the newly created museum building. He also founded the Center for Green Infrastructure Design (CGID), a non-profit corporation in Utah. CGID is the extension of his design firm, Swaner Design, created to assist communities in planning open space systems, coupled with conservation development. He has conducted more than 100 workshops based on his CEDARi approach of identifying open space types over the past 10 years. Mr. Swaner’s extensive work with communities throughout the Intermountain Region has given him unique insights regarding the human need to be directly attached to open spaces as part of the daily routine. He believes this connection is an inalienable right and conventional real estate development patterns and policies need to be updated across America.
In creating the Ecological Planning Center, Mr. Swaner’s aim is to lay the research foundation for incorporating conservation of nature and open spaces into planning and development. Community outreach and assistance are part of the Ecological Planning Center’s founding articles, as are educating students and the public with regard to the benefits of integrating open spaces into community development. The Ecological Planning Center is the nexus of focused ecological science and formal human habitation.