The Rocky Mountain West is evolving. No longer defined by the mining, logging, and ranching operations that for over a century shaped its landscape, economy, and culture (the oil, gas, and minerals rush of recent years notwithstanding), the West is fast becoming post-industrial, with a robust services- and amenities-based economy, and an increasingly diverse and urban population. Meanwhile, an extraordinary confluence of forces — economic globalization, the recent real estate bust and Great Recession, the internet, climate change, and the rising cost of fossil fuels — is accelerating this evolution, changing the way cities and towns across the West and all of the U.S. plan, grow, and define their success. Old rules and patterns of development, both physical and economic, are eroding; new ones are beginning to emerge.

The need and opportunities for a new generation of land use and development professionals with expertise and skills in sustainability have never been greater or more important. To ensure a resilient, prosperous region in the 21st century, a new generation of sustainable land use and development professionals must be forged. They will need to understand the many forces driving the West's land use and development patterns — forces that cut across geography, disciplines, fields, and sectors — from global warming to globalization, housing to transportation, energy to economic development, public policy to politics. They must be prepared to work in and among many different contexts — urban and rural, commercial and residential, agricultural and recreational, private and public — as well as social groups — affluent and low-income alike, from an increasingly rich mix of ethnic and racial backgrounds. Most importantly, they will need to possess a new mind- and skill-set capable of identifying and integrating sustainable economic, social, and environmental goals, and of designing new business models, policies, and strategies that join profitability, community, and ecology in a bold development vision tailored to the needs of a rapidly changing region in a radically changing world.


Since its inception in 1992, RMLUI has served as a prominent convener and educator of lawyers, planners, policymakers, and other professionals in the environmental, land use, and real estate development fields. Best known for its annual Western Places | Western Spaces conference, the Institute has become a network hub among a large, influential, and dispersed group of professionals and academics. Beyond the conference, RMLUI has initiated a number of significant research, training, publishing, and consulting activities over the years, including the pathbreaking Sustainable Development Code. The Institute's advisory board, comprising both national and regional representatives, is a remarkable collection of many of the field's most prominent scholars and practitioners.

RMLUI's origin and evolution loosely track the rise of the "New West" school of thought, which, in the 1980s and 90s, identified a significant shift in the region over the previous several decades from an "Old West" resource-extraction economy and culture of rugged individualism to a "New West" defined by its amenity- and tourism-based economy, high-tech business development, and increasing urbanization.


RMLUI seeks to elevate the law, policy, and practice of sustainable development in the West to promote nature-friendly, prosperous, and equitable communities.

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The RMLUI advisory board is made up of leading academics and practitioners in the fields of law, planning, policy, development, and design.

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RMLUI's program and day-to-day activities are managed by its Executive Director with assistance from our professional staff and team of student Research Associates.

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