Mobilizing Change: Engineering for the Environment

This Earth Day was a unique one. 

Not only were we marking 50 years of advocating for the environment, but we were also tasked with analyzing how we need to take action for the climate in our evolving world. At The GREEN Program, we gathered a group of global change-makers to discuss how we can all mobilize for the environment. In our 4-day Earth Week panel series, we uncovered how these change-makers were making strides for sustainability in organizations, such as NASA, NREL, Arup, Nike, ExxonMobil and more.

Throughout the week, the GREEN community asked ourselves… 

How can we take action for the climate today?

Engineering for the Environment

To kick-off Earth Week, we gathered the technical brains of the environmental movement to discover the possibilities of engineering positive change for the world with global industry change-makers from
Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, NREL,  NASA and Pfizer.

A Panel of Global Change-Makers 

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Aysha Mohammad AlRemeithi

Sustainability Engineer at Dubai Electricity & Water Authority

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Jim Reilly

Microgrids Engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Paige Persky

 Process Engineer at Pfizer

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Sanjana Paul

Atmospheric Science Software Developer at NASA and
Executive Director of Earth Hacks

The GREEN Team’s Key Takeaways 

1) Sustainability can be embedded in every level of an organization 

As a Sustainability Engineer at Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, Aysha works to convince various engineering departments to abide by more energy-efficient solutions and/or change the materials they are using within their department. She finds that the largest barrier to change for sustainable solutions from her colleagues is high upfront costs. Aysha drives her colleagues to envision the bigger picture of having an energy resilient city and country. 

If you are looking to embed sustainability solutions into your organization, Aysha advises involving more people in what you’re doing and tackle an adverse mindset with tangible actions!


2) Communication is key

As Microgrids Engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Jim has collaborated and communicated with stakeholders with various perspectives. If you have a technical background, you will want to develop your communication skills to not only explain technical information to a non-technical audience but also learn from a perspective that differs from your own! 

3) Engineering for the environment should become the new normal 

Sanjana would like for higher education institutions to foster environmentally concerned engineers, rather than just support fringe interest and experiences in environmental education. She believes there needs to be a cultural shift in the engineering space to make the environment a priority when educating engineers to help young engineers be ready for the future of the industry in our evolving world. 

4) There are various avenues to institute change for sustainability within an organization

At a large company, such as Pfizer, Paige has to identify multiple departments and colleagues to see sustainability initiatives trickle into the company culture and practices. To institute change for sustainability within your organization, explore the various channels you can go through to integrate those practices. It changes when you work for a small versus a big company. Do your research to know who to reach out to!

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How can you take action for the climate?

After learning from these global change-makers, you may be thinking, “So, what now? How do I get started?”. Here are a few ways you can get started (or continue) to mobilize for the environment:

“Look for ways to multiply your impact! One person can make a difference, but it’s also important to hold large organizations accountable, so vote with your wallet and support organizations making strides for sustainability.”
Sanjana Paul

“Become close with your perceived opposition. Use your great ideals
to change opposing viewpoints
by understanding your perceived opposition perspective.”

Jim Reilly

“Build habits and practice what you preach or you’re not going
to affect change in other people!” 

Paige Persky

“Induce sustained behavioral changes. Embed sustainability in your habits,
into your culture, and into your mindset.”

Aysha Mohammad AlRemeithi

More Mobilizing Change Panels

Reinforcing Responsible Sourcing

Panelists from Nike, Fitbit, and Ground Upcycling

The Future of Energy

Panelists from Independent Power Systems (IPS),
National Renewable Energy Laboratory,
Momentum: Move Innovation Forward, and ExxonMobil

Rooting for Global Food Security

Panelists from Florida Impact,
the United States Patent & Trade Office,
Grounded Upcycling, and Louisville Food Pantry

Consulting for Climate Change

Panelists from Independent Power Systems (IPS),
Arup, and a Graduate Student of Energy Systems
from UC – Davis

Boots on the Ground: Turning Passion into Action

with featured speaker, influencer, activist, and backpacking queen, Pattie Gonia 

Explore how The GREEN Program is fostering a community of global change-makers, including the GREEN Alumni from the above panel, through our short-term education abroad programs! If you would like to get in touch with our team, please reach out here: [email protected]

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