Please tell us your story. How did you become passionate about sustainability and climate change?
After completing my undergraduate degree, my professional path began as a civil engineer designing natural gas power plants. During those two years, I was exposed to the environmental impact of power generation, learned that the power industry thrives on consumer ignorance, and discovered the congressional lobbying efforts to limit environmental regulations.
I quickly changed course and started my professional career again because I want to be part of our collective future – not the past. In 2014, I officially made the shift and started as an energy advisor. After two years, I transitioned to working with a variety of industries on long term decarbonization, and I now assist small to mid-size enterprises in aligning their business practices to achieve climate-related goals. I co-founded Sustainafy which is an online marketplace that connects businesses with freelance sustainability consultants at an affordable price point. The Sustainafy community of consultants make navigating the sustainability industry easy by offering a variety of services such as climate preparedness, energy advising, technical writing, and supply chain management.
Can you give us a look behind the scenes with some of the technologies that are helping contribute to a cleaner environment? How will this innovation improve the state of carbon emissions today?
In 2019, direct and indirect emissions from electricity used in built environments (offices, shopping centers, etc) was 10 GtCO2 globally (June 2020, IEA). In the United States, the built environment contributed to 40% of total energy usage. Carbon emissions related to the built environment are due to natural gas, electricity and the “dirtyness” of the grid supplying the electricity. Artificial intelligence (A.I.) can assist with reducing energy consumption by increasing building operational efficiency or maximizing electricity grid efficiency. For example, Germany uses A.I. to maximize use of renewable energy versus non-renewable energy across its grid infrastructure.
The fashion industry is responsible for up to 10% of global carbon emissions annually. In your opinion, what considerations - for industry leaders and emerging brands alike - should be taken to be mindful of their impact on the environment?
Personally, I believe transparency is extremely important. The industry and emerging brands should embrace transparency when it comes to environmental impact to allow consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.
Coming from someone who has dedicated their life and studies to making this world a better place - what is one piece of advice you would give young adults who are passionate about making sustainable changes in their life but aren’t necessarily sure where to start?
Being mindful is a great place to begin. It’s really important to be mindful of the motivations behind making a change and asking the key question: can this change be sustained over a lifetime.