Looking to the Future: Sustainability and Green Energy

Now that I am at the midpoint of my internship, I am sure that I want to pursue sustainability and green energy in my future career. I have seen how valuable this discipline is, and how much it is needed on a national and international scale.

From the start of my internship until now, I have been researching for the follow-up publication of LAGI’s [Land Art Generator Initiative] Field Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies (linked here is LAGI’s already published guide). Through this research, I have learned not only about the many renewable energy projects that are currently happening across the world, but so too I have studied the art of grant writing, and the process of finding and applying for grants. With the application of these funds, LAGI and similar non-profits have helped multiple communities save money with energy management, make towns cleaner and healthier to live in through the implementation of green technologies, and have added additional comfort and beauty to urban surroundings. With the experience I have gained, I have begun learning about how I can help the world in tangible ways through the use of visuality and environmentalism. Growing up wanting to pursue the arts, I was often told that specializing in any career related to the creative process was a waste of my time and money. Going into art was never something that my inner circle wanted for me–mostly because they wanted me to be financially secure. But I now have seen, firsthand, how useful, important, and present art is in our daily lives.

One aspect that I have noticed is that design and visuality influence the happiness and overall mental health of workers, especially those who spend the entirety of their days enclosed in small offices. During my time working in a cubicle, I remember feeling so isolated from the outside. I would’ve given anything to have seen the blue of the sky or the green vitality of the trees and grass from my tiny office window; many of my coworkers felt the same. I have realized that even though some businesses need to conduct work in offices, that doesn’t mean that their employees need to be isolated and withdrawn from nature. Quite the contrary, a recent trip I took to the Phipps Conservatory proved that cubicles don’t have to be disconnected at all.

flowers

The Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA has recently constructed a revolutionary green building that creates more energy than it uses, saving energy for the city of Pittsburgh as a whole. This building is called the Center for Sustainable Landscapes. Its entire office space utilizes natural sunlight from glass windows; the internal temperature is stabilized from the condition of the outside heat, and plants are placed in nearly every corner of the building, adding another source of life to the indoor space. I have never felt so comfortable in an office space; this building was also generating energy for other Pittsburghians, too. I was truly amazed.

The skills that I have learned in my current internship have laid the groundwork for developing more advanced research skills for non-profits who utilize grant writing, and if I happen to work for a company engaged in international business, I can also mention that I have first hand experience understanding the difficulties the company faces going green (such as funding and grants, managing public space vs. private space rights, navigating internal politics, or overcoming the NIMBY point-of-view (Not In My Backyard: those who are opposed to renewable structures because they take up too much of the natural landscape).

This internship experience has helped me in decide what graduate degrees to consider and what additional minor/major I want to declare. By going into environmental studies and green energy, not only is this field of work helping societal and global concerns, but it is also fascinating and gets right to the heart of urban maintenance and development.

With this career I have the possibility of seeing the fruits of my labors, and seeing the people that I am helping through making their lives more convenient and healthy.

 

me at work
–Karrah Beck ’15

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