Informational Interview about Careers in Environmental Fields

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My name is Rachel Grefke and I am an Environmental major at SUNY Potsdam. I received your contact info. from the PM Environmental website which I had been looking at for my internship coming up in the summer. For my environmental field prep. class I am required to preform an interview on someone in the environmental field and I was hoping you would be willing to allow me to interview you? I should not take long and we can conduct it through email. If you could let me know as soon as possible that would be great! Below I have written down the questions, take your time answering them.
What exactly does your company do?

Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy’s goal is to help promote Green Building and provide the public with the resources needed to advocate for the U.S Green Building Council’s LEED Certification process. 1. We are hired to fill out the forms required to receive LEED Certification, 2. produce brochures about products like windows that will help achieve LEED certification, 3. teach classes to pass the LEED AP exam and also 4. take on interns to work on our projects as they study for their LEED GA and AP accreditation.

What is a typical day in your career like?

Working on the projects above require:
1. Assembling the material documentation of the products in the building; calculating technical documentation for community services; entering documentation into energy modeling programs and running simulations; writing environmental programs to be implemented such as Green Cleaning and Green Education
2. Designing the brochure, obtaining the photography, summarizing the technical specifications that are provided for meeting LEED certifications for energy, materials and indoor air quality such as operable windows
3. Review the LEED Reference Guide and take practice tests. A fun part is touring local LEED buildings and seeing first hand what a Green Building is.
4. A typical internship is 100 hours of work on a LEED Project in exchange for study materials and exam fees. Actually working on the documentation and visiting the project are the best ways to study for the very difficult LEED AP exam.

What type of background or experience is an employer in your field looking for in a possible employee?

They would have achieved their LEED Green Associate accreditation and hopefully have experience in writing, art or internet programming.

What would you suggest I do to make myself look more creditable in this field?

The LEED GA (Green Associate) accreditation is a general overview of the principals behind sustainability.

What do you enjoy about your profession?

Practicing what I preach. I came to this industry late in life. I studied architecture in college but never got my degree. After spending 35 years in marketing and taking over my Dad’s advertising agency, Janet and I purchased a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It inspired me to go back in time and learn more about his Organic Architecture principals and how they manifested themselves today. When I learned about the U.S. Green Building Council and their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, I felt that LEED was a modern manifestation of FLW’s architecture principals. I joined the local USGBC Chapter but quickly realized that in order to help I would have to become a LEED AP. To help me study for the exam I registered my office to be a LEED project. After three years of work and even moving the office we achieved LEED Platinum. Along the journey I have organized many dozens of tours of local Green and or LEED projects. Those projects taught me as much about LEED as living in Mr. Wright’s design. Sharing the experience with others has been the most satisfying part.

Is there any advice you have for an environmental student like me looking to go into a field like this?

Learn how to communicate sustainability and persuade others to learn and make better informed decisions about what actions they take and how they spend their resources. This is very difficult. I’m currently writing an article for DIE CASTING ENGINEER Magazine about how the die casting industry is sustainable. 71% of owners think that means saving energy but sustainability goes beyond that. Maybe one of the best ways is to demonstrate how better employee health and well being can save their industry 22%. We’re in the process of gathering documentation for the articles and find it’s a juggling act around planet, people and profits. Profits are the easy sell. We think it’s pretty easy to convince businesses to invest in their employees. It’s helping save the planet for future generations that is most difficult. There are only a handful of companies that put the planet first, people second and profit third. We’d like to be that way and work with others that feel the same.

Thank you once again!

Rachel

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