We are pleased to announce the latest addition to our team, Rebecca Smith, Associate Consultant, based in our DC office.
Rebecca helps stakeholders and clients to meet sustainability goals and comply with green building code. She works across LEED rating systems to help projects achieve their varied, technical, and complex sustainability goals. Rebecca’s combined background in environmental studies, modeling and analysis, and law gives her a unique perspective on green building issues that impact architects, developers, and real estate owners.
Get to know Rebecca, and join us in welcoming her to the Paladino team!
Tell us about your background and what led you to Paladino.
I got interested in the environment in high school, starting with Future Farmers of America (FFA). I was learning through outdated textbooks, and I knew that there was something wrong with what I was being taught, but I couldn’t necessarily articulate why I thought the books were wrong. By the time I started taking classes at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, I wanted to turn my interest in learning about the environment into my career.
I’ve known about Paladino for a long time, and thought that this would be a great place to work and grow. During my interviews with Divya, Kim, and Amanda, it was my clear to me that this team is truly passionate about the environment, which wasn’t always the case in my previous roles. So it was in that moment during my interview when I knew that Paladino was where I wanted to work.
Where do you find inspiration in your work?
There are a couple things that inspire me. Some of the newer rating systems like SITES and WELL are branching out, and I love learning how to incorporate some of these new certification requirements into projects. I also love the fact that I live in a city that easily allows me to participate in socially responsible groups. For example, I recently attended a lobbying trivia event. This type of experience gives me exposure to multiple fields within environmental science and keeps me learning and engaged.
What direction do you think green building is headed? Where do you see the industry in ten years?
Green buildings will continue to integrate human-centric components and ecological improvements that meet more rigorous standards. The human health-focused WELL and Fitwel rating systems and the ecologically focused SITES rating system provide ways for projects to truly push the boundaries of these disciplines. As buildings become more efficient and are built more sustainably, their role in expanding biodiversity and improving human health will be the expectation rather than a remarkable achievement.
What role does sustainability play in your life outside work? What does it mean to you?
Living in a city has really amplified my concern for environmental issues, as Arlington’s lack of tree cover, and Northern Virginia’s unchecked urban sprawl are key issues which I hope to impact as a sustainability consultant. I recently joined my local “Climate Reality Project” chapter in DC. I enjoy being an activist and spreading information about climate change to friends, family, and anyone who will listen!
What is one positive impact you feel sustainability will support in the world?
Sustainability relates just as much to human health as it does to our surrounding environment. Humans cannot sustain putting chemicals and undisclosed compounds into our building materials without these substances impacting our health. The WELL standards relating to Toxic Material Reduction, Drinking Water Treatment and Material Safety draw on findings from the fields of toxicology and epidemiology, and these fields are critical toward promoting sustainability in the built environment and in regard to human health. The role that WELL takes on in limiting human exposure to toxins has the potential to lower cancer rates and reduce the prevalence of other diseases.
What do you do in your leisure time?
I spend most of my free time with my beloved cat, horses, and goldfish. I enjoy running, skiing, horse showing, and reading about anything related to science, economics, and the environment. I love that my location allows for me to go from spending time in the countryside with horses to being right in the city with access to every museum one could want!
What are three things you can’t live without?
My hometown of Wallingford, Connecticut, lox, and Al Gore.
What are you most proud of?
Being true to myself and never letting interpersonal, social, or societal pressures inhibit my activism!
Is there anything else that you’d like to know about Rebecca? Ask away in the comments section below!