The US Green Building Council's annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, the largest international conference and expo dedicated to green building, is always a profound source of inspiration and collaboration for our firm, as many of our staff attend, participate, and lead portions of the event.
The 2017 Greenbuild was particularly special as Martine Dion, SMMA Director of Sustainable Design, was invited to be an Honorary Chair for the Women In Green Power Breakfast on Thursday, November 9. The breakfast honed in on women as change agents in all facets of society. It was inspired by the book Women In Green: Voices of Sustainable Design by Kira Gould and Lance Hosey, which examined how "women may be changing how we all see our world and our work."
As Honorary Chair, Dion hosted a table where she led discussions, brought forward learning outcomes, and provided real world examples as takeaways for the group. Dion was honored and surprised to be recognized, and viewed the experience as another opportunity to inspire the next generation of "women in green."
How have things changed since the last Women In Green event you attended ten years ago?
MD: A lot of the emerging ideas we were discussing ten years ago have since taken off—zero energy buildings, the healthy materials movement, and the Health Product Declaration™, to name a few. There's still more to do, especially when we adopt a global view, but it's encouraging to see the new generation embracing sustainability and pushing it forward. There seems to be much better general awareness of what it means to be sustainable, which tells me that our awareness efforts ten years ago worked!
This is striking, because ten years ago the people that were talking about sustainability were in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. It was a very technical narrative. Now, I'm seeing a health-focused narrative and an understanding from the general population, no matter the industry.
What are your big sustainability goals moving forward?
MD: To keep the field evolving. To maintain the very real sense of urgency, particularly in regards to climate change. We need to stay resilient in times when the legitimacy of our field is questioned and we need to fight for access to quality education.