By Grey Lee
1. What is your current job and how does it differ from past jobs in regards to Sustainability?
I am an Environmental Planner with the Devens Enterprise Commission to oversee the development of a former military base outside of Boston in Devens. I act as a Town Planner, but in a unique position since the Commission I serve is a regional and joint board that oversees planning, zoning, historic, local health and conservation-all under one roof! Devens is also redeveloping as an eco-industrial park (one firm's waste becoming another firm's raw material resource-maximizing efficiency and minimizing waste). I assist with the operations of the Devens Eco Efficiency Center as well. This is a unique non-profit organization that provides education and technical assistance to businesses and organizations in Devens, as well as the surrounding region to help them incorporate more sustainable business practices in their day-to-day operations.
2. When did you first become interested in Sustainability?
In my undergraduate program at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I majored in Geography and environmental studies and was always interested and fascinated in natural systems and how they function. I also have a creative side that was interested in architecture and design. Once I graduated, I enrolled in a professional design degree program in Environmental Planning at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. There, I learned to combine my knowledge of natural systems thinking with human development patterns and sharpened my skills as a land use planner. My first job was in Connecticut as an environmental planner where I wrote the Town's first plan for Conservation and Open Space. From there, I knew I found my niche incorporating more sustainable approaches to traditional land use, planning, methodologies and practices.
3. Why are you a member of the MA chapter and how did you get there?
I wanted to learn more about the green building movement as it was directly in my line of work. I joined the education committee of the Mass. Membership Forum at the Nexus Green Building Resource Center in Boston. From there I began to learn about LEED and the planning, design, operations and maintenance that goes into sustainable building design. I earned my LEED BD&C credential. As the Green Roundtable evolved into the Chapter, I decided to take a more active role as a Board Member and represent the Planning community. Since I joined, I have been working to bring together the planning and building disciplines. The launch of LEED for Neighborhood Development has also helped bridge the gap between planning and the development community.
4. How are you an Environmental Steward?
I still drive a little too much, but I try to practice what I preach. I have minimized my own carbon footprint and in my own family through energy efficiency, recycling and re-use measures in my home, office, in my wife's offices and at my parents' home. I am always looking to minimize waste and maximize the life of the products I use. Some may call that frugal, but I think we have become a disposable society that has greatly contributed to the situation we are in today with climate change and poor air quality in lots of regions. This coupled with my day-to-day work as an environmental planner contribute to my environmental stewardship.
5. How do you help raise Environmental Awareness?
As a member of the Education Committee, I help organzie green building and LEED ND events that help educate others. I also try to share my knowledge and experiences when I can present to my colleagues and the general public on more sustainable approaches to land use planning and development.
6. If I needed to find you on a Saturday afternoon, where would you be?
Depending on the time of year…in the summer you will find me surfing in Rhode Island. In the Spring and Fall, you might find me mountain biking up north and in the Winter you would find me on the ski slopes searching for my own fresh powder. Needless to say, I love the outdoors. I think that helps me feel even better about what I do-knowing that my day-to-day activities ultimately help to preserve the natural environment and some of the places I love spending time in or at!