By Grey Lee
1.What is your current job and how does it differ from past jobs in sustainability?
I am the Director of Sustainability at Columbia Construction Company. I make sure all of our projects' construction sustainability goals meet or exceed the architect's or owner's projections. I work very closely with the project team and Columbia's PMs and superintendents to understand and implement project goals. I've been involved in sustainable design & construction for the past 7 years, but the biggest change since joining Columbia is that here I spend 100% of my time on this work. My previous companies did not do the volume of green building work that necessitated full time management.
2. When did you first become interested in Sustainability?
My undegrad degree is in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern Univ. Engineering is all about two things: 1) how things work and 2) how to make things work better. Right when I got into the construction industry, I was eager to figure out how to build it better. After a few years, that desire to build it better inevitably led me into green building.
3. Why are you a member of the MA chapter and how did you get there?
My interest in the USGBC predates the formation of the MA Chapter. I was very appreciative of the Green Roundtable and Nexus Resource Center and their eventual affiliation with the USGBC. Those organizations evolved into other entities and now the MA Chapter fulfills many community aspects they provided. The LEED prep study groups, networking events, as well as learning and leaning on each other through the growing pains the USGBC and LEED have gone through. I can't imagine how different things would be for me personally and professionally without the people of the MA Chapter. Many of the things we're trying to do involve battles with nay-sayers and cynics. The MA Chapter reminds me that I am not crazy and all this stuff is really possible, practical, beneficial and necessary. Plus, the people of the Chapter are a ton of fun and like to network over a cold drink which suits me fine.
4. How are you an environmental steward?
In addition to declaring 100% of my professional life to sustainability, this could be a big list. So I'll just touch on a few things. I am working with a group in the city I live in, Melrose, to get bike lanes painted. In Melrose we have 3 commuter rail stations and is also very close to the Oak Grove T stop (in Malden). Getting bike safety on the correct streets can have an impact on carbon emissions and the health of the city. A lot of people think that somebody should “do something” and they are right. That somebody is YOU. Get into your communities and identify and address the needs there. Another sphere of environmental stewardship is food. Too many people think that vegetarianism or vegan means a 100% commitment 24/7. For the past few years my family has been “home vegans”. We don't grocery shop meat or dairy. Since I like meat too much to give it up entirely, I order meat if I feel like it if I dine out. Since most of my meals are from home, our overall meat consumption is way down. Not only is it good for the planet, my doctor is happy about the results too!
5. How do you help raise environmental awareness?
Through my work and professional and civic volunteering (Melrose Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory Committee) and only answering questions about food when asked!
6. If I needed to find you on a Saturday afternoon where would it be?
Depending on the week, probably at home with my wife playing with our young son. Enjoying the northern New England Outdoors or day tripping around Boston enjoying the city.