Senior Researcher, Carbon Leadership Forum
When I was 13, I floated down a slow Pennsylvania river with my best friend. Unknowingly, this amazing afternoon was the beginning of my environmental career and my fascination with rivers.
I followed the Mississippi River down to New Orleans, LA for college, where I was surrounded by water. Some of it was beautiful and other waterways were manufactured and filthy. It wasn’t hard to notice the social and environmental impacts of an economy built on production and consumption. I was heavily influenced by my surroundings and shifted my studies to environmental science and policy.
After moving west, I was fortunate to work for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to protect and enhance waterways through industrial site cleanup, forestry/agricultural management, and fish protection. I learned a lot by working from headwaters to estuaries and with all the people and places in between. During this time, I had a good friend developing his career as a carpenter and natural builder. After being exposed to a number of small-scale natural building projects, I started volunteering on his project sites, and made the connection between my job protecting water quality and the impacts of producing some of the building materials that surround us daily.
Eventually, these two interests converged when shifting to the Materials Management program at Oregon DEQ. At the time, the program was in the infancy of looking at materials from a lifecycle perspective and developing programs to reduce impacts at all stages of that lifecycle. Our work put a spotlight on climate change early by producing the first statewide consumption-based greenhouse gas inventory in North America, which highlighted the impacts of building materials and helped launch DEQ’s work in the built environment. We commissioned and performed LCAs, researched and promoted smaller housing models, supported deconstruction and material reuse, and focused intently on reducing the carbon impacts of concrete consumed in Oregon.
All of this work led me to envision larger scale solutions for the built environment. Solutions that reflect our surroundings, conserve resources, and enhance well-being. This bigger vision brought me to the Carbon Leadership Forum to pursue solutions at the scale and pace that climate change demands. CLF is doing thoughtful and meaningful work and I’m thrilled to join the team!
My work at CLF will focus on policy initiatives and research that lead to meaningful reductions in embodied carbon. I’ll leverage my broad background in environmental science to integrate and align embodied carbon reduction strategies into the large list of other disciplines that engage in a material’s lifecycle. I’m excited to learn from others and collaborate with partners to navigate the challenging but hopeful task of transforming our built environment into a solution for climate change mitigation.
Big visions need inspiration. Fortunately, I still carve out time to paddle the beautiful rivers of Oregon, which serve as a constant reminder of the sheer beauty, complexity, and connectivity we have within an ecosystem. I also continue to work on small scale building projects when time allows. Practically, this means my patient family endures quite possibly the slowest home remodeling projects in human history.