WCS Member of the Month is our new initiative to highlight the amazing stories of female leaders in the industry. One woman from WCS will be featured every month to share her accomplishments, ambitions, and advice for other women in the sector.
This month, we spotlight Deepika Nagabhushan, Energy Policy Associate at Clean Air Task Force.
WCS: What excites you most about the work you’re doing?
Deepika: My current work involves policy analysis and policy advocacy to get carbon capture & storage technology more widely deployed in the US. What excites me the most about working on policy is that I think this is where the fundamentals of climate solutions are being built. When it comes to climate solutions, the biggest push so far has come from clean energy focused policies at national/regional levels. Markets such as Germany and California have strong policies to reduce emissions and there's so much to learn from studying their experiences. Getting policy right to encourage all the necessary technologies to develop, instead of prematurely picking winners, is the biggest challenge right now and I find that this challenge attracts the most creative thinkers, and it excites me to get to work with them. I can happily talk about my work and debate policy issues at dinners and parties, although that's not very fun for my friends on a Friday night!!!
WCS: What professional accomplishment are you the most proud of?
Deepika: I am most proud of the fact that I chose to work with an organization that is driven by rigorous analysis and science; a place where political ideology does not play a role in choosing which climate solutions must be supported. In terms of work that I have done, I am proud of a recent economic modeling project I led that studies the impact of federal tax incentives on the adoption of carbon capture technology in the US power sector. For the first time a study was able to show that a policy pathway exists to reach the targets that International Energy Agency's 2-Degree Scenario lays out for carbon capture. I am able to use this analysis to create awareness about carbon capture and its benefits/role in emissions reduction, helping to build broader support for policies we advocate for.
WCS: How did you get to where you are in your career?
Deepika: Earlier in my career I worked at Schneider Electric in brand management and marketing roles, where I got introduced to sustainability. My interest in sustainability deepened and I decided to make a career switch. I enrolled in the MS in Sustainability Management program at Columbia University where I focused on energy systems, policy analysis, finance as well as environmental science classes. I still remember during school I was so eager to evaluate all sustainability related career options (because it felt like I was starting over) I spoke to multiple professors and professionals I found on LinkedIn or through networking. Then I joined Clean Air Task Force upon graduation! Here I am able to utilize my sustainability skills as well as my marketing skills, so I am not sure whether this was much of a career switch rather than organic progression!
WCS: What failures or setbacks have you learned from?
Deepika: When I was looking for a career switch, I attempted to enroll into an MBA program but I was unsuccessful. While I was disheartened, I objectively re-evaluated my intentions and potential options that lay ahead of me. I realized that I had spent 2 years trying to get myself an MBA not because I truly thought it would help me in my career-switch, but because I thought it's what everyone does and so it might be right for me too. After having chosen a different path and landing up where I am today, I know that choosing a path for what it truly offers, knowing it really matches your needs is the best way to go. I learned to avoid doing something just because it suits many other people to do it.
WCS: What advice do you have for other women in WCS?
Deepika: Careers don't happen in a straight line. Sometimes disciplines or skill-sets you thought had little to do with each other come together to create a very unique profile. The work/business landscape is changing so much! So my advice is to invest your time in developing skills, based on your strengths and interests, even if they might seem disconnected. Know that your unique skill-set will become the reason you shine and succeed.
By Cathy Boone
With 90% of our lives spent indoors (either at work or at home), the buildings we live in really matter. That was the theme of the WCS Greener Buildings and Your Health event where over fifty people gathered to hear about the latest trends and opportunities in green building.
The event centered on a panel of experts from a cross-section of the green building industry including Mia Brondum (Business Development, WindowMaster Control Systems), Halie Colbourne (Assistant Sustainability Manager, BCCI), Christina Weber (Regional VP, Interface), and Alexandra Lichtenberg, (Executive Director of Same Drop). The panel was moderated by Lauren Elasik Goodwin (Project Manager, U.S. Green Building Council) who kept the conversation lively with questions for the panelists about their personal journeys into sustainability as well as their predictions for the future of the industry.
Christina Weber, from Interface, reminded the group that the building industry itself is responsible for 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases and almost 40% of the CO₂ emissions in the US. Here are a few other stunning stats from the US Green Building Council:
The upfront cost of choosing green building materials and products remains a challenge, but several panelists suggested that the costs of greener, healthier solutions for natural airflow, carpeting, and other building essentials is on the decline. Combining these improved economics with compelling health benefits/risks data makes the return on investment for going green increasingly compelling.
Perhaps the most compelling part of the discussion centered around what we can all do to improve our buildings’ health. We all have a role to play. When we face a new build opportunity, it’s important to focus on both the process of building and the materials used to maximize health benefits. There are various rating systems for buildings including LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the Well Building Standard (which focuses on the health and wellness of building inhabitants), Energy Star (an EPA-backed voluntary labeling program to promote energy-efficient products and reduce greenhouse gas emissions), and the Living Building Challenge (which promotes net zero energy, net zero water, beauty, and more). You can learn more about all these here.
The panelists stressed that we can all get involved in making our living spaces healthier. Here are few ideas for immediate engagement:
Thanks to the NRDC for hosting the event in its beautiful U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Gold rated space in downtown San Francisco.
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