By Jim Campbell
Chairman, Brooks Board of Directors
Chairman, San Antonio River Authority

How far can you take sustainability and development? At Brooks, we’ve explored the idea and discovered that we can achieve a balance with community needs. There are substantive sustainability measures that are not only doable, but they can serve as a model to other communities, and with some encouragement, inspire more sustainable development practices throughout the city and beyond.

It starts with an appetite for innovation as well as an eye on the big gift to the community: a way to ensure we have clean air, clean water and beautiful places to live, work, learn, play and stay.

Sustainability started with a view of our campus as a natural space that required some restoration of floodplains and waterways. These environments are critical to working with the land to ease the burden on the land. We also recognized that there is a significant secondary benefit: 250 acres of green space gives our residents a respite and beautiful environment to enjoy. The balance with nature continues with the development of The Greenline, a 43-acre oasis of green space on the Brooks campus. There are walking trails, play areas for the young at heart, exercise equipment, and fully stocked retention ponds for fishermen. Plus, over the next several years, we are planting over 600 trees all irrigated by recycled water in addition to the 2,000 trees that have already been added. Additionally, we have partnered with the San Antonio River Authority to reduce stormwater runoff in our greenway and reduce our impact on the river.

Bringing in businesses that value sustainability was next on our priority list. An excellent example is Cuisine Solutions. Cuisine Solutions is an international leader in food manufacturing that perfected the sous vide style of cooking on a massive scale. They have created over 400 jobs for San Antonians with a goal of hiring an additional 150 employees in the near future – an economic impact that is important to our community. In line with our sustainability mission, Cuisine Solutions completed an award-winning $220 million state-of-the-art facility which has achieved a high standard for sustainable development at Brooks. The facility boasts nearly 300 solar covered carports, the largest in the San Antonio area, is LEED certified, and operates efficiently and with environmental awareness.

Businesses look to Brooks as an ideal place to expand their operations, and we encourage them to keep sustainability in mind. Among the recommendations are building to LEED certification and committing to the city’s low impact development (LID) standards.

Next on our journey to sustainable development is re-envisioning transportation within the community. For true sustainability, we need to create a bikeable and walkable community, and to that end we are widening sidewalks, building multi-use pathways throughout the area, repairing neglected roadways, and removing over 2-acres of outdated and abandoned buildings. Brooks has electric vehicle charging stations sprinkled around campus for those who are taking steps to reduce their automotive carbon footprint.

Providing options other than driving a personal vehicle helps get cars off the road, reduces congestion, alleviates stress and significantly improves health. The VIA Brooks Transit Center was completed in 2019 and connects the Southside of San Antonio to downtown and beyond. With more than 2,700 riders per day, the importance of public transportation is a priority for Brooks.

No matter what we do within our community, it’s vital we step up and support a framework that will guide developments beyond the Brooks campus. We fully supported three major initiatives passed in recent years by the San Antonio City Council.

In 2017, the San Antonio City Council passed a resolution to support the Paris Climate Agreement and joined the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda. That same year, the City engaged the business and residential community to develop the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) which was officially completed and adopted in 2019. CAAP’s goal is to make San Antonio carbon-neutral by 2050. All have one goal in common; reduce greenhouse gasses and mitigate the region’s impact on the climate and our environment.

Our hope is that the lessons we’ve learned at Brooks can drive the sustainable development conversation forward. While we are proud of what we have accomplished, the greater accomplishment will be in seeing these innovations take root and grow throughout our community.

About Jim Campbell

Chairman Jim Campbell is a public affairs consultant providing services in governmental relations, corporate communications, public relations, and business development. His thirty-five year career includes executive positions as Senior Director of Public Affairs for HOLT CAT, Director of External Relations for the City of San Antonio, Senior Director of Governmental Relations and Communications for CPS Energy and Senior Vice President of The DeBerry Group.

Mr. Campbell was appointed to the Brooks Development Authority Board of Directors in October 2017. In addition to his duties at Brooks, he currently serves as Chairman of the San Antonio River Authority Board of Directors and on the Executive Committee of the San Antonio Mobility Coalition. For over twenty years Mr. Campbell has been active in local chambers of commerce including serving on the Board and Executive Committee of the San Antonio Chamber.