Photo: Caleb Fox

An article you recently shared: It’s a report—the National Climate Assessment that was released this spring.

The perfect city would have: Lots of parks and natural areas for kids to explore.

One technology on the horizon that can change the world: With anaerobic digestion, organic waste can be converted to methane and power vehicles that we currently run on diesel.

Your topic if you were asked to give a TED Talk: The Why and How of Running a Good Meeting.

The next big idea will come from: A university.

Building you would save if the world was going to end: The Make It Right house that floats.

Most memorable mentor or teacher: Jim Hornig, the Dartmouth chemistry professor who founded an outstanding environmental studies program.

Harshest criticism you’ve ever received: That we still have far to go towards sustainability at Tulane.

Favorite mode of transportation: Bicycling.

Most memorable hometown haunt: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison. It was created by Aldo Leopold and other university faculty. It was perhaps the original university sustainability project.

Industry jargon you would banish: The language of climate action planning is tough—greenhouse gas emissions inventories, MTeCO2, Scope 1 emissions—but we have to accept it and remember to explain it to others in every meeting.

A current event we should follow more closely: The implementation of the new EPA Carbon Pollution standards.

Most compelling argument for environmental stewardship: We can’t rebuild natural systems in the same way we can rebuild our infrastructure. 

Way to make the environment a non-partisan issue: The more local and specific the issue, the less partisan it seems.   

What you’d pitch to President Obama if you had 30 seconds: Creating a climate adaptation fund to help communities prepare for future changes.

The boldest idea in sustainable design: The net-zero-energy building.

Casualty of the cutting-room floor you’d resurrect: Swapping an existing tax for a carbon tax.

Current project you’re most excited about: The renovation of Richardson Memorial Hall, the home of the Tulane School of Architecture. With the involvement of faculty and students, it’s helping us define the next level of sustainable design for Tulane. 

One book everyone should readBayou Farewell by Mike Tidwell. It was written before Katrina and before the BP oil disaster, but it is a beautiful introduction to our overriding local sustainability issue: the loss of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands.

Most impactful documentary you’ve seen: Most recently, Saving Pelican 895, about the BP oil spill. Surprisingly, it shows the beauty of coastal Louisiana.   

Most common green myth: That it’s a lot of expensive extras. 

Favorite place you’ve traveled: I’m lucky to have family to visit in Maine. 

Most impactful experience in nature: Growing up near so many woods and parks. In Madison, we even had a school forest. 

Your field’s biggest hurdle to improving its practices: Sustainability directors need to work ourselves out of a field by helping our colleagues incorporate sustainability into their daily work and professions. 

Building trend you hope will never go out of fashion: Windows that open.

Professional pet peeve: Seeing a cardboard box in a campus dumpster.

Cause you’d support if you had a billion dollars: Helping universities around the world offer courses in environmental science.

Environmental come-to-Jesus moment: Learning from environmental justice activists in the early 1990s.

Social media: helping or hurting? Helping—if you’re able to put your phone away for a stretch each day.


Read our interview with Liz Davey

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