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go local at GoGreen
by laura soma | theme: sustainability
5.3.18

GLY Project Manager Laura Soma has a thirst for sustainability education and quenches it by attending numerous forums, conferences and workshops throughout the year—sometimes as a speaker herself. GoGreen Seattle, which is always on her list of annual go-tos, tends to be a favorite given the full day program of environmental content specific to our region. Addressing issues, progress and plans on a local scale makes complex environmental crises much easier to grasp and less daunting to tackle.

We asked Laura a few questions about her experience at the April 4 GoGreen Seattle Conference. To learn even more about this one-of-a-kind event, visit GoGreen's website, which is chalk full of speaker interviews, photos, conference footage, and recaps from previous years.

2018 GOGREEN SEATTLE
Program Theme: Climate Commitment Leadership, Equity + Social Justice and The Clean Energy Future

WHICH OF THE THREE TRACKS DID YOU CHOOSE IN THE PROGRAM?
I focused on the Climate Commitment Leadership track, but was exposed to Equity + Social Justice and The Clean Energy Future as well. I attended the following sessions:

Urban Watersheds: Innovative Public and Private Sector Initiative. The high caliber speakers caught my eye, along with my desire to learn what others are doing to encourage continuous water health and manage storm water.
[Speakers: Susan Wickwire / Seattle 2030 District, Heather Schrock / Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Lori Mason Curran / Vulcan, Ellen Southard / Salmon Safe]

Ramping up Climate Leadership Commitments: How Non-State Actors are Leading the Way. I wanted to learn what I could personally do to make a difference and support fact-based climate solutions.
[Speakers: Betty Cremmins / CDP West, Chris Bast / City of Seattle, Seth Herron / WSP USA, Liz Willmott / Microsoft]

Collaboration and Investment for Climate + Equity Impact. Knowing one of the speakers is a general contractor and her role revolves around sustainability, this session seemed practical because I want to learn how we as builders can mitigate the carbon impact of our construction processes and the final product: the buildings we build.
[Speakers: Lindsay Fromme Hanna / Forterra, Carrie Lee / King County Metro Transit, Patrick Leonard / Starbucks, Stacy Smedley / Skanska USA Building]

WHICH SPEAKER MADE THE BIGGEST IMPRESSION ON YOU?
The speakers from the Urban Watersheds session lingered in my mind well after the conference. These thoughts truly grabbed my attention:

“Every industry has the ability to positively impact another industry.” – Ellen Southard, Puget Sound Outreach Manager, Salmon Safe

“How we develop [land, buildings, etc] impacts the health of the watershed.” – Lori Mason Curran, Investment Strategy Director, Vulcan

There is SO much more we can accomplish as business owners, developers, and contractors. What we do on a daily basis matters across our entire region and the biosphere.

WHICH SPEAKER DID YOU FIND THE MOST INTERESTING?
The Washington State Women’s Mayoral Forum [opening plenary] was eye opening, informative and GENUINE. Mayors from Kent, Auburn, Issaquah and Tacoma spoke candidly about their jobs, communities, communities’ goals for greener living, and challenges with homelessness.

Many people think that homelessness is an issue specific to Seattle proper, but in reality, surrounding cities are facing the same problem. Cities are collaborating on all aspects and solutions around the crisis, knowing that what may work well in Seattle, may not work in Issaquah. Through regular information sharing on successes and failures in various communities and developing solutions as a team, each city is making more progress instead of trying to solve the issue on its own.

TOP 3 TAKEAWAYS?

  1. Everyone deserves clean water, clean air, and protection from the elements—regardless of monetary wealth. People in all walks of life are worthy of these things.
  2. There’s so much more we can do in the construction industry to reduce carbon in the built environment, but we actually have to START. [“If we don’t start, we won’t get there.” – Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee]
  3. Many local companies’ business strategies specifically include tactics to increase energy efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions and impacts. Most are more than just written strategies that sit in a business plan … they are fully implemented processes and the companies are still profitable! [e.g. Microsoft, Starbucks, Skanska]