Kendeda Fund Sends 3 Living Building Equity Champions to NAACP Conference in Pittsburgh

October 12, 2018

Interested in hearing more from the Equity Champions? Come to the Net Positive Symposium on Tuesday, October 18th, where they will speak on how they have found solutions to making a living building in the hot, humid climate of Atlanta.  If you are a student, faculty, or staff at Georgia Tech affiliated with SLS, contact SLS at serve-learn-sustain@gatech.edu about scholarships to the conference.


My name is Janay Jones and I am 3rd year Industrial Design major with a minor in International Affairs. Along with being a Living Building Equity Champion, I am also a Georgia Tech Diversity Ambassador and a United Nations Academic Impact Millennium Fellow.  I am thankful for being extended the opportunity to attend the NAACP’s Centering Equity in the Sustainable Sector Summit in Pittsburgh. More specifically, I’d like to thank the Kendeda Fund and Serve-Learn-Sustain for providing the opportunity for me. Seeing a room full of black professionals in the realm of sustainability meant a lot for me. It was extremely empowering. Moreover, I learned a lot about all of the ethical issues that are present in sustainability and the green building sector. I’m excited to apply this new found information to my work and research as an LBEC.

Moreover, I’m looking forward to applying all of the information that I learned from the working sessions to my own research. I plan to do research on the intricacies that exist between sustainability and gentrification. This work is very people centered and relies a lot on accessible language and communication. The working sessions that I participated in at the summit had a lot to do with communication and accessibility as both topics pertain to sustainability. We assessed how to market sustainability as a necessity to low-income and racially diverse areas. I enjoyed discussing how sustainability looks different for different people because I feel like it’s a topic that can easily be overlooked in non-diverse spaces. I’m also just a fan of transcendentalism and I appreciated the several mentions of it throughout the summit. I look to nature and biomimicry for a lot of my design inspiration and I appreciated the narrative of humans becoming one with nature again through their sustainable design. "

 


 

My name is Chaselyn Baca and I am a 4th year Computer Science major with a minor in Public Policy and French. In addition to being a Living Building Equity Champion I serve as the President of College Democrats. Last month, I was allowed the wonderful opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh and attend the NAACP’s Centering Equity in the Sustainable Building Sector Summit. The summit brought together numerous leaders in the green building sector and began a very important conversation of equity, or rather the lack thereof, in the sustainability market. Through panels and working groups, attendees put together a working definition of equity and addressed the issue of incorporating equity into building practices. I was lucky enough to be a part of the affordable housing working group where we put together a number of metrics that may help developers and policy makers ensure that they are creating sustainable and equitable housing for limited-income populations. The entire experience was extremely eye-opening as everyone in the room seemed to understand the importance of equity and intersectionality as it applied to sustainability. Hearing sector professionals use phrases like “environmental racism” and “environmental justice” made me feel hopeful about our future and the future of green building.

 

What I took away from this summit was that change and equity is centered around people and the communities in which they live. It was also interesting to discuss the intersection of sustainability, community, and health. Panels specifically talked about how equitable green building, or lack thereof, is a public health issue. We will not make progress if we fail to take into consideration their needs, stories, and desires as well as acknowledging the correlation between different problems.

 

I’d like to thank The Kendeda Fund for allowing me the opportunity to attend this monumental and groundbreaking summit and committing themselves to fighting for equity. Without the Kendeda Fund I would not have access to such important information directly from industry leaders and professionals. We are incredibly fortunate to have a foundation that both supports and encourages exposure to new opportunities to explore such important topics in depth. I am extremely honored to be an LBEC and have the opportunity to assist in bringing an accessible, intersectional, and sustainable building to the Georgia Tech community.

 


 

My name is Nataly Granados and I am a 3rd year Industrial Engineering major. I am involved with many organizations on campus, including Enchanted Encounters, Alternative Service Breaks, SHPE, and most importantly for this post, the Living Building Equity Champions (LBECs). The LBECs are a group of Georgia Tech students of different backgrounds focused on contributing diverse perspectives, initiating conversations, and recommending initiatives to establish an equitable environment in the The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design being built on our campus.

 

In early August I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to attend the NAACP’s “Centering Equity in the Sustainable Building Sector” Launch Summit, thanks to The Kendeda Fund, Serve-Learn-Sustain and the LBECs. It was a gathering of individuals committed to advancing access, affordability, and engagement in the sustainability sector. The Summit perfectly aligned with my personal values and the mission of the LBECs, so it was an amazing experience that provided me with a chance to hear many different perspectives and a lot of knowledge of the intersection of equity and sustainability. Throughout the summit, we gathered into working groups focusing on discussing and coming up with innovative ideas to solving specific equity in sustainability problems. I was a part of the Affordable Housing group and it opened my eyes to concepts I had never thought about. I did not realize the common lack of quality in affordable housing units, which can lead to health problems or short-lived homes or how many families are turned away because they do not fall below a poverty line. I discovered that the issue of affordable housing was much more complex than I thought. However, it was inspiring to hear so many professionals on the topic express their acknowledgment and ideas for solutions. We discussed everything from representation in careers like architecture and engineering to lessons on owning a home for new homeowners and much more. Though this was a conversation between a small group of people, it gave me hope for the future knowing so many people care about these issue.

 

I was very appreciative of the opportunity to be one of only three undergraduate students (all from Tech!) in attendance. Overall, everyone there had the same fundamental belief: that all people throughout a community, no matter their background, situation, or lifestyle, should be taken into consideration when implementing sustainability projects. It was refreshing to be in a room full of people who dedicated their lives to the mission of making the sustainability sector an equitable space and felt passionate about not just having the conversations but acting to implement the much-needed change. It was inspirational and reminded me about why I chose to be an LBEC: to bring the greater Atlanta and Georgia Tech communities together within the The Kendeda Building and make it an affordable, accessible, and safe space for all.