Q: Can you please describe your current position?
MN: I’m self-employed and my job is to foster awareness about sustainability for the people in the Lehigh Valley. The Lehigh Valley is starting to catch up on many sustainability initiatives. There are some organizations and municipalities that have done more than others, but I’m still finding that people either aren’t aware of sustainability or are just confused by it. It’s exciting to help individuals who are already on board with sustainability and want to build or renovate using those concepts and materials.
Q: What are some green building projects and/or initiatives that you are currently working on and how do you feel they will contribute to the Greater Philadelphia region’s sustainability efforts?
MN: Most of what I’m doing right now is centered on the non-profit groups I work with, which include Green Building United and the Lehigh Valley community. I just finished working on the Green Schools sustainability workshop. It was a very successful event. We partnered with the staff at the Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center and offered a workshop at the Center, which is a LEED certified building. Offering programs that encourage energy efficiency, safer indoor air quality and incorporating those topics into a school’s curriculum all contribute to the sustainability efforts in our region.
Q: Why is being involved with Green Building United important to you?
MN: It’s important to be involved with Green Building United because of the people, the members who make up the organization. Our Lehigh Valley committee involves individuals from different sectors who bring an array of valuable information to our meetings. Green Building United offers webinars and symposiums which help you stay informed and really think about the projects you’re working on and what outcome you would like to see as a result. LEED, Passive House, and Living Building Challenge all come into play because they require you to stop and think about the site, the type of building you want to create and what it would be like to live in that building.
Q: Which sustainability topics do you feel are most pressing at this time?
MN: Addressing climate change is so important. It’s critical to survival. Being more efficient or the most efficient we can be with the resources available to us is the sustainability topic that’s most important to me. The 2030 District initiative led by Green Building United in Philadelphia which is encouraging commercial buildings to be more energy efficient is helping address this topic.
Q: What are you doing to advance green building and a sustainable built environment?
MN: The Lehigh Valley is different from Philadelphia. What people are concerned about in my region is not always the same. So, with that being said, how you engage with the community is a big question. I’m still involved with dissecting that and thinking about ways to most effectively convey my sustainability messages. Presentations seem to work well. When I’m asked to do a presentation, I try to jump on it because there’s already an interested audience. I also like to participate in events, including solar and green home tours where I open my own home to educate people about energy efficiency and sustainability. I’m on the board of the Lehigh Valley Sustainability Network which offers Lehigh Valley Green Drinks. Green Drinks meets once a month and we promote sustainability topics with local speakers. That’s another opportunity for me to help spread the word about the importance of sustainability.
Green Building United Membership offers a range of benefits such as free happy hours, discounted tickets to our Sustainability Symposium, reduced prices for green building workshops, free webinars, and more! To become a member or upgrade your membership package, visit our Membership page or email Leah Wirgau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marie North has been involved with sustainability for many years and is a certified Sustainable Building Advisor. She provides consulting and outreach services about sustainability in everyday life through her website translatingsustainable.com. Her goal is to educate and provide answers for individuals living or working in the Lehigh Valley area who want to achieve their sustainability objectives. Marie is the Green Schools Coordinator for the Lehigh Valley Community of Green Building United. She is the Vice President of the board for the Lehigh Valley Sustainability Network. Her green, passive solar, energy efficient home which she helped to create is situated in a PA Stewardship Forest.