Women in Sustainability - Design the Future

Women in Sustainability - Design the Future

Women are living, learning, and leading towards a sustainable future. Their stories can help us all accelerate toward that vision in the built environment. Women in Sustainability: Design the Future is a podcast created to elevate and explore the voices of women driving sustainable practices in the built environment and related fields.Lindsay Baker, a sustainability and social impact leader, and Kira Gould, a writer and communications consultant, host these conversations. Acuity Brands is the producer of the podcast.... Show More

Episodes

September 24, 2020 40 min

Psychologist Judith “Judi” Heerwagen focuses on the behavioral and health impacts of building design and operations; she works with the U.S. General Services Administration and is on the architecture faculty at the University of Washington. She describes the serendipity of her path, which began with an E.O. Wilson book that led to her studying zoology and behavioral ecology, and then a PhD in psychology. Her early training in journ...

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Architect Liz York is senior advisor for buildings and facilities strategy and innovation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. She talks about how buildings impact people -- their lives, health, and mental health. Liz has been a leader in making those connections. She helped create a best practice paper for AIA about lactation rooms that is still circulated widely today. She talks about how triple bottom li...

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Erin Meezan sought a career that would help protect the natural world. That led to an environmental law degree, and today she is VP and Chief of Sustainability at Interface, the global commercial flooring company. She and Interface are focused on defining the next jump toward decarbonization of the built environment. Erin says that depends on driving accountability for delivering on progress, both in the company and in the industry...

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Gail Brager is a professor of architecture at UC Berkeley and associate director of the Center for the Built Environment, a model for collaborative research dedicated to transformational change in the building industry. She describes her research into thermal adaptive comfort and points to ASHRAE as the first organization where she found her leadership footing -- and how her work changed the standard. Gail reminds us that feminine ...

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Stacy Smedley started her career in architecture and has worked with global construction company Skanska for the past seven years. She co-conceived the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool last year, and is on loan from Skanska to launch the nonprofit Building Transparency to share and scale EC3. She’s also a songwriter/singer, a parent, and writes children’s books. She talks about aligning personal passions and sk...

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Master communicator Marge Anderson works at the Wisconsin-based nonprofit Slipstream, Inc., where she shapes education to drive behavior change around energy. She chaired the US Green Building Council in 2015, and was in Paris for the climate talks. She says that her working-class upbringing did not suggest a path to sustainability but it has informed her leadership in the field. She is an optimist (and cites British environmental ...

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Architect Carlie Bullock-Jones runs Ecoworks Studio in Atlanta and her firm touches many buildings seeking green building certifications including LEED, WELL, and others. This includes very large-scale projects such as professional sports facilities, and she talks about why sustainability-driven design and planning moves in those venues can become a public teaching tool and a community benefit. (Carlie gives a shout out to the late...

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Kimberly Lewis is SVP for market transformation and development at the US Green Building Council, where she has centered people and healing in her work. This movement builder is responsible for GBC’s Equity Summit, its Women in Green leadership platform, Sheroes, and more.  Kimberly talks about what it means to live your values in your work, the buzzwords in the sustainable buildings industry, and how we cannot equity-wash what’s n...

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In the course of architect Eden Brukman’s career, she has touched and shaped a number of critical aspects of the sustainable building industry. Today, she is the Senior Green Building Coordinator for the City of San Francisco. We talked to her about accountability, working at the city scale, decarbonization, material banks, and about why mentoring is so important. Eden touched on how systems thinking is so crucial to solving the bi...

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Architect Mara Baum leads global health and wellness design practice, which includes a number of large projects for large health organizations. Human health had been an interest of Mara’s for years, though during her education, it was not at all a focus of the architecture community. Our conversation touched on a number of things including what healthcare design can teach other building types, the value of “cheerful persistence,” a...

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Elaine Hsieh is co-founder and head of Corporate Partnerships/Marketing for
Third Derivative, a new organization focused on success and speed to market for climate innovation efforts. Throughout her career, Elaine has followed her curiosity and instinct and sought out value alignment and growth potential. Today, she is passionate about the need to bend the emissions curve precipitously; that urgency is driving her (and Third Deriva...

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Andréa Traber is an architect and managing principal at Integral, an engineering/consulting firm aimed at accelerating positive change. Amid fast-paced change brought on by the pandemic, Integral is looking at new ways of shaping teams and serving clients. Andréa is inspired by the openness and creativity of multi-generational teams. In the green building movement, she suggests that great progress has been made. But there is a long...

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Perhaps it was her summer manufacturing job that seeded her interest in resource cycles. After studying architecture, Amanda Kaminsky worked in real estate at the Durst Organization in New York, then founded Building Products Ecosystems (BPE) with a mission to evolve the systemic health of building material flows. (Her daughter once described Amanda’s job this way: “She takes trash out of the garbage.”) She works with all the stake...

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Liz Ogbu is a designer, urbanist, and social innovator. Her multidisciplinary consultancy, Studio O, works with communities in need to leverage the power of design to catalyze sustained social impact. Which is not, strictly speaking, what most people learn in architecture school...but Liz has been redefining things since she decided to study architecture. Liz is finding ways to use design to embrace spatial justice; she sees this a...

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Gail Vittori, the co-director of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems in Austin, Texas, has been a change agent in the green building movement for many years. She says that she brought a “beginner’s mind” to the industry. She saw a gap, early on, when green building was not addressing health (and the healthcare sector), and took steps to address that; today, the human health dimension is widely understood as a key driv...

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Mary Curtiss is the head of sustainability for HP operations, which includes 120 sites around the world. For her, this is a mandate about buildings and people. She explains why storytelling and empathy are as important as the technical side of buildings. She describes how she sees sustainability as something that engages everyone who enters a building, and how she thinks about that experience along with efficiency, renewables, and ...

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Sarah Golden is the Senior Energy Analyst and Conference Chair, VERGE Energy with GreenBiz Group. We talk about the importance of storytelling and how stories can advance the movement. Sarah also shares her perspective on energy markets in the context of the pandemic and economic disruption, including insight about the fight for the shape of what will come next. We discuss feminine leadership traits -- crucial for handling the pand...

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Rosa Sheng is an architect and Principal with SmithGroup and the firm’s Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. We discuss how intersectionality plays out in architecture, pushing us to eliminate conventional silos and explore how sustainability, justice, diversity, equity and inclusion are interrelated. We talk about the diversity and gender pay equity issues behind the American Institute of Architecture’s Equity by Design ...

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Our first guest, Sara Neff, Senior Vice President for Sustainability for Kilroy Realty, has brought that organization to a leadership position in sustainability within the real estate market. She talks about her career journey, advances being made in the real estate sector, why the business case matters (and isn’t everything), and what commitments to carbon neutrality mean in her sector. We discuss what’s ahead, including work in s...

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 In our kick-off episode, meet hosts Lindsay Baker  and Kira Gould, who discuss their interest in exploring and sharing the amazing work being done in sustainability by women across the country and beyond.

Lindsay and Kira have worked in a number of capacities in the sustainable design field: Lindsay worked at USGBC, Google, and WeWork, in between which she started and ran Comfy. Kira was an editor at Metropolis magazine, worked at ...

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