1. When were you first introduced to green design and construction?
This is a hard question because I have always been tuned in to sustainability themes, even as a young mind! I think my first concrete exposure to green design and construction was working for the Office of Sustainability (OoS) at the University of Georgia. As an intern, got a behind-the-scenes look at the Material Reuse program on campus, a fantastic branch of the OoS dedicated to diverting construction waste and reusing it as raw materials. I also studied LEED principles in college courses and attended Greenbuild 2013 in Philadelphia. Prior to college days, I learned about sustainable development from a high-school trip to Israel. We visited Kibbutz Lotan, which was comprised of adobe-style homes built with straw, sand, silt, clay and upcycled municipal waste. The campus also featured composting toilets, organic farming and a platform to educate.
2. What excites you the most about your job?
What excites me the most about my job is the opportunity to educate builders and homeowners. True success for me is slowly but surely influencing a change in human behavior.
3. What has been a challenge you’ve faced in your career?
A challenge I have faced is commanding respect in a male-dominated industry.
4. Do you have any advice to someone aspiring to make a difference in their industry through sustainability?
Doubt the nay-sayers! People love to challenge new ideas – or just ideas that stray from the status quo. If someone says it can’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t be done get a second or third opinion. Chances are they have not seen your suggestion executed successfully.
5. What did you want to be when you were a child?
6. Biggest pet peeve relating to sustainability?
My biggest pet peeve relating to sustainability is that we allow it to become a politicized topic. Climate science, renewable energy and sustainability goals should not be associated with a particular party – they affect everyone.
7. What do you love to do when you aren’t working?
When I’m not working I love to be active, especially outdoors. I also love spending time with family and friends over a meal.
8. What positive changes do you hope to see in the industry over the next five years?
I hope to see more stringent energy codes adopted and enforced. I want to see Georgia adjust policies to incentivize solar and renewable energy sources. I would like to see affordable housing empower tenants to live healthier lives. It would be nice to see Atlanta actualize a more holistic approach to urban development – adaptive reuse in lieu of complete demolitions. This list could easily become a 40-page document, but I will close with one more item on my wish list: complete (safe) streets that promote bike usership!