Cole: Take green-building ideas to a larger scale
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
On Friday, the annual BetterBricks Awards will be handed out in Portland, highlighting innovative trends in green building and the people driving those trends.
Sustainable Business Oregon caught up with a former award winner, Naomi Cole, who was recognized as an emerging leader in 2008, to see what she's working on now.
Cole, who in 2008 was on the sustainable design team at ZGF Architects, is now leading the charge on EcoDistrict development at the Portland Sustainability Institute. We asked her about the evolution of her career and the challenges of neighborhood-scale planning for sustainability.
SBO: Did you set out to build a career around sustainability and building? If so, what inspired you to head in that direction?
Naomi Cole: I had architectural ambitions at a surprisingly young age. In 8th grade I spent a year working with a Portland architect, and in high school I had an internship with a small local firm. But even in high school I began to question the rapid change in Portland and the way that buildings seemed to go up and come down so effortlessly, and without much consideration for their material consumption or overall environmental impact. I started to wonder if my design interests were conflicting with my sense of social and environmental responsibility. But when I was 16, I heard a local American Institute of Architects lecture by William McDonough, who totally changed the way I looked at buildings and development. Suddenly, I saw architecture and urban design as one of the most effective solutions to the social and environmental challenges facing modern cities. I decided not to hop off my chosen career path but to pursue it even more strongly. I chose the University of Pennsylvania for its excellent architecture program, and once there, I realized that architecture alone wasn’t enough and decided to create an integrated degree with a double major in architecture and environmental studies and a minor in urban studies.
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