January 27, 2020
By Jonathan Oriondo
On October 29th, GreenHomeNYC convened a panel discussion on sustainability careers in government, a field that promises change and growth in the new green economy. In New York in particular, breakthrough climate legislation is not just leading the way to a carbon neutral city; as our speakers demonstrated, it is also leading to innovative and meaningful careers.
October 28, 2019
By Elena Weissmann
Photo by Alicja Osinska
On September 10, 2019, the GreenHomeNYC community gathered at GROHE to learn from industry experts about jobs in the energy efficient buildings arena here in New York City. We were lucky to be joined by Elizabeth Taveras of the NYC Division of Energy Management (DEM)
, Daquan Dennis from the CUNY Building Performance Lab
, and Mina Agarabi of Agarabi Engineering PLLC
Elizabeth, Daquan, and Mina gave participants a glimpse into a day in the life at their current workplaces, an understanding of the journeys that took them there, and advice on how participants might navigate their own journeys into this growing field. They also addressed the impact New York City’s new Local Law 97 will have on both careers and culture in the city’s buildings. (more…)
May 9, 2019
Interested in the Sustainability Non-Profit Sector? Join us for a panel on Non-Profits!
When sustainability challenges fall outside the domain of market solutions, who is there to provide redress? Non-profits can satisfy energy and environmental problems of great import that financial interest may ignore. Come learn lessons from professionals experienced in navigating careers in the sustainability non-profit sector.
Date: May 14th, 2019
Time: 6:30pm – 8:00pm with networking afterwards
Location: BrightPower, Flr 21, 11 Hanover Square, New York NY 10005
Danielle Bissett – Billion Oyster Project
Adam Romano – AEE
Irene Nielson – NRDC
Note: To respect the time of our speakers and guests, the event will start promptly at 6:30.
October 31, 2018
By Radhna Saxena
Photos By Jessica Bartolini
Panelists (from left to right): Kestana Anokye, Michael Roos, Lindsay Robbins, and Tom Sahagian
On October 9, Green Careers hosted a Career Tracks panel on NYC government jobs. Professionals working to advance sustainability causes in various government sectors discussed their educational background, first steps in the sustainability industry, and job roles and responsibilities, while offering advice to those seeking a career in governmental sustainability.
Kestana Anokye is a Project Manager in the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation, the agency that designs and operates municipal programs for cleanup and redevelopment of vacant contaminated lands. Anokye has a background in Geological Sciences and worked with two environmental consulting companies after college. Two years into her second job, she realized her growing passion for sustainability. When a colleague suggested that she attend forums, like those hosted by GreenHomeNYC, to learn about opportunities in the field, it seemed a bit intimidating that almost every speaker had a degree in engineering. But she was determined to find a way to combine her skills and training with her interests to find the right job.
While networking is invaluable, Anokye advised that persistence in your job search is most important, even when things don’t work out immediately. That tenacity and patience led to her current position at the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation.
Michael Roos graduated with a liberal arts degree in economics and geography, and didn’t foresee his current role as a Building Performance Analyst for the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services Division of Energy Management. While pursuing his master’s degree at Columbia University, Roos learned about the role that local governments play in advancing urban sustainability, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC serving as a case study. One of his professors encouraged him to apply for an internship in the Energy Department of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Interning with the largest public housing authority in North America was a valuable introduction to the field of energy management in city government.
Roos returned to the Energy Department in a permanent capacity as an Energy Analyst, deploying his data analysis skills to work extensively with the Utility Management Information System (UMIS), NYCHA’s utility bill database. He working with technical consultants to conduct energy analyses of NYCHA’s 2,500 residential buildings and facilitate energy benchmarking in compliance with New York City’s local laws. After a few years, he transitioned to his current role at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which serves as the hub of energy management activities for over 4,000 municipal buildings across the five boroughs. His role involves managing energy and performance in alignment with Mayor DeBlasio’s goal of a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from municipal buildings by 2025.
Roos advised job seekers to set up a keyword search on the city’s job website
and DCAS Energy Management
to stay abreast of new opportunities in city government. He noted that networking is an effective way to connect with the tightly-knit community of energy and sustainability professionals in New York. He added that the DCAS-administered Energy Management Institute
offers continuing education classes for city workers to enhance their technical knowledge.
As Director of Strategic Alignment & Implementation for NRDC’s Healthy People & Thriving Communities (HP&TC) Program, Lindsay Robbins works to foster the development of healthy, sustainable communities for all. While studying film and TV production at NYU, she discovered a love for urban studies and decided to pursue a master’s degree in urban planning. During this period, she became involved with several environmental groups at NYU that banded together to advocate for an environmental program at the university and the adoption of sustainable practices. Leading the effort with a few fellow students, Robbins successfully advocated to set up the program and bring other sustainability initiatives to the campus. After graduation, she was hired by NYU to assist in the planning, design, and renovation of university buildings.
Robbins moved into government work when she was hired to work on multifamily efficiency programs at NYSERDA. Working in NYSERDA’s then-small NYC office was a great advantage, as it helped her take on a lot of responsibility quickly. Subsequently she worked for the state of Maryland, managing an energy assistance program for low income households, where she worked to weave energy efficiency into the mix. Now at NRDC, Robbins works on energy efficiency for the affordable housing sector, helping the HP&TC program achieve its broader goals.
She advised job seekers not to be discouraged by the lack of a technical degree; this is a field that requires a variety of skill sets and there are ample opportunities to learn, if you remain curious and keep asking questions.
Tom Sahagian has had extensive experience working in private, non-profit, and governmental jobs, including the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development. He obtained a degree in journalism, later deciding to make the move into energy efficiency. But he noted that his ability to write well has been a huge advantage over his entire career.
Although there are pros and cons to working in government, he felt one compelling advantage is that government organizations are not driven by profit. The tendency to care more about the work, rather than gains or paybacks, can be a rewarding experience.
Sahagian’s advice is to be willing to start at the bottom, work hard, and learn new things every day to steadily climb up the ladder. He recommended pursuing continuing education for technical topics, and reading magazines on energy efficiency to stay abreast of the latest tools, technologies, and concepts. A few other important qualities for success: Be smart and committed. Be ready to do a lot of reading, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
The panelists noted there’s often a long period between applying for a government job and getting an interview, so it’s important to be patient and persistent. And they agreed that regardless of your educational background, keep learning, keep reading, and keep applying until you find your dream job in sustainability.
June 18, 2018
by Curtis Morrow
The June Green Careers event, held at GroheLive! Center, focused on women and minorities in the green sector. Former Green Careers Lead Volunteer, Samantha Yost hosted the event, the topic of which holds special meaning for her. As an LGBTQ woman, Yost believes that GreenHomeNYC “had her back” and helped her break into the sustainability field.
Our panelists for the evening spoke about their experiences in the green sector as either a woman, a minority or both. Julianna Wei, Energy Engineer and Technical Project Manager at TRC Energy Services, is a female engineer of Chinese descent, who as a child, was a minority in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). She highlighted the importance of finding allies and mentors at every stage of one’s career. Mentors may not directly present themselves as such – it’s up to you to build the relationship through on-on-one, person-to-person discussions. She advised acknowledging the lack of diversity in a specific setting as objectively as possible without adding subjective commentary on how to deal with it.
April 23, 2018
Recap by Miaoru Guan
Corporate Social Responsibility, commonly referred to as CSR, describes companies’ initiatives to give back to the environment and community. The April 2018 Green Careers panelists spoke about their extensive experience with a wide range of CSR initiatives that help companies fulfill these goals while also improving the bottom line.
Zoha Karmali began her career in sales and marketing for Tata Group and combined her skills with her passion for CSR to eventually transition into the field. She coordinated volunteer programming and corporate hotel sustainable practices for 100 locations and 25,000 employees of Tata Group’s luxury hospitality firm. Abisola Adekoya is currently a consultant at Salterbaxter MSL Group and advises companies in telling stories of sustainability through reporting. Prior to sustainability consulting, Abisola worked to bring together companies and NGOs to solve pressing issues in international development. Heliana Higbie has experience with both the public and private sector. Heliana has implemented sustainable agriculture programs for PepsiCo in addition to renewable energy resilience efforts for the City of Yonkers and NYC Transit.
From Left: Emily Taubenblatt (Moderator), Zoha Karmali (Panelist), Abisola Adekoya (Panelist), Heliana Higbie (Panelist)
Photo by Rishika Shrivastava
CSR efforts not only benefit the community and the environment but also increase long term profits for the company. Zoha talked about how company-wide employee volunteer programs allowed for inter-departmental networking within her company. Abisola agreed and mentioned that volunteering activities increase employee engagement and overall productivity. Heliana discussed climate resiliency fixes for the MTA that improve transportation reliability during natural disasters, reducing the cost of recovery.
For companies interested in starting or increasing their CSR initiatives, the panelists gave insights into strategies that encourage CSR. The easiest way to implement programs is to have support from upper management. When the CEO or other decision-makers recognize the benefits of CSR and emphasize it as a priority for the company, sustainability professionals have the necessary support to organize initiatives and employees are encouraged to participate in events. When there is no clear mandate, sustainability professionals can engage individual departments and people to elicit interest. The panelists also highlighted the most effective CSR strategies, such as volunteer programs that integrate job responsibilities.
Drawing from their unique backgrounds, the speakers gave advice to those interested in entering the CSR industry. The panelists all agreed that is not necessary to have a direct career path to CSR. Abisola mentioned that having colleagues with different backgrounds is an asset because it brings more nuanced perspectives to the table when making CSR decisions. Zoha emphasized the importance of applying skills gained from other opportunities to CSR jobs, such as communication and teamwork. Heliana encouraged people to think outside the box for career decisions and to carve one’s own path by using resources from schools and professional networks.
April 17, 2018
by Tamanna Mohapatra
If you’re an eco-minded entrepreneur looking for the next great “green” idea, you may take some inspiration from a trio of local small businesses that hold sustainable values at their core. Starting a business, green or otherwise, has rewards and challenges. Fortunately, there are resources
available through New York State, and inspiration from these local business owners that can help in the pursuit of a green dream.
Saint Seneca: Supporting Independent Artisans
With a name inspired by the intersection of the two streets on which it’s located in Ridgewood, Queens, Saint Seneca
is a lovely curio store that sells local artisan goods. Ridgewood local Yuka Anziano founded the business in the summer of 2015, with money inherited from her father. It was a gamble to open an artsy, though reasonably priced, home and lifestyle store amidst the dollar stores and local deli, but it’s a risk that has paid off.
Anziano called on a talented pool of friends in the area to design the logo, hand paint the sign, and build the displays, opening the store in just four months. She believes that supporting small makers and designers is better for the community and believes that operating in New York provides a huge advantage. “There is endless talent here,” she said. “Even within my own neighborhood of Ridgewood, I have makers just a few blocks away. I have lived here for over a decade and it has become quite the creative hot-bed.”
December 4, 2017
by Pamela Berns
Photo credit: Pamela Berns
It’s been a year marked by extreme weather events, with hurricanes, fires, droughts, and flooding all across the globe. In the United States we saw Houston drown and Santa Rosa burn just a few months after Trump’s pullout from the Paris agreement in June. Climate advocacy groups, local policy makers, corporations, entrepreneurs, individuals, and nonprofits all stepped up their game in defense of the planet, and GreenHomeNYC was no exception.
Thanks to the dedication of our volunteers, we were able to deepen our commitment to providing education and calls to action. Our speakers and our blog writers shared critical information on local policy, business actions, and academic initiatives. Record numbers of event attendees turned up to hear from innovators in energy, food waste, recycling, and sustainable building. Green careerists came out to find out where to point their compasses in the new paradigm.
We’re proud of the hard work that went into this challenging year, and hope that our contributions made a difference. Here are just a few GreenHomeNYC highlights for 2017:
October 2, 2017
Join GreenHomeNYC and the Center on Global Energy Policy’s Women in Energy program for the “Women in Green” October Forum!
Several established experts in the “green” universe will take the stage to talk about the myriad paths that lead them to where they are now in the sustainable field. The only catch is, the presentation will be Pecha Kucha format, where each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds – that’s six minutes and forty seconds of fast-paced enlightenment before the next presenter is up! If you enjoy being entertained, enlightened and inspired, this forum is for you, so REGISTER TODAY!
Our speakers will include:
Jacquie Ottman, We Hate to Waste & J. Ottman Consulting
Sharon Gaber North American Passive House
Lucie Dupas, Entersolar
Lisbeth Shepard, Green City Force
Andrea Mancino, Bright Power
Laura Tajima, Mayor’s Office for Recovery and Resiliency
Allison Kling, ConEd
Katie Schwamb, Steven Winter Associates
April 4, 2017
by Radhika Sri Paravastu
Many professionals have had an idea of starting their own business, either from an early age or due to dissatisfaction with their current work. Whether you want to bring a new idea or service to the world or offer services in an established field, it can be challenging to strike out on your own. To learn how to put the right foot forward while starting one’s own freelancing or entrepreneurial journey, GreenhomeNYC’s March event focused on “Freelancing and Starting Your Own Business.” It saw speakers who are both established and budding entrepreneurs in building software, engineering, solar, and business consulting. Each speaker gave us a glimpse into their professional lives and how entrepreneurship is different than working in a more traditional setting: (more…)