Welcome to Being a Green Building Professional

Julie Villa

By Julie Villa, Missouri Gateway Green Building Council Board Member

Perhaps it was the memory of standing awkwardly on the edge of a crowd at an event early in my career, and hoping to spare another young professional that feeling. Or it was the desire to have an impact on the next generation of green building professionals. Maybe I was drawn to the young professionals’ enthusiasm. I don’t remember why I began working with the Missouri Gateway Green Building Council’s Emerging Professionals. But now in my 6th year, I can see that our work has helped build a community for the next generation of green building professionals.

The Missouri Gateway GBC’s Emerging Professionals welcome students, young professionals, and individuals new to the field into our green building community through happy hours, community services, and opportunities to network with seasoned professionals. While working with emerging professionals has its challenges (like being reminded that I haven’t been an emerging professional for a long time), below are the top 5 reasons why I continue working with this group:

Reason #5: Green building tours

From the Solar Village in Rolla to the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center in Alton, our green building tours are typically followed by lunch at a brewery. Few things beat experiencing green buildings in person, and refreshments!

Reason #4: Demystifying networking

We try to take the edge off networking so that meeting new people is less intimidating.

Reason #3: Community Service

We’ve organized a number of community service opportunities for emerging professionals and Council members. Some of the most enjoyable include volunteering with EnergyCare to weatherize of clients’ homes, and organizing a plogging run, which for those of you unfamiliar, is a Swedish fitness trend that combines jogging and picking up trash. During our run along the Riverfront Trail, we collected a mound of garbage including a large flatscreen television! My favorite community service is volunteering at Fresh Starts Community Garden in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood. I really enjoy getting my hands (and knees) dirty and find it rewarding to harvest in the fall what we helped plant in the spring.

Reason #2: Happy Hours

Our most regular and arguably most popular events are monthly happy hours. These take place on the first Thursday at a Green Dining Alliance venue and offer a casual atmosphere to get to know Council members and other emerging professionals.

Reason #1: “I believe that children are our future. Teach them well…”

Wise words, Whitney! But seriously, the Council’s Green Schools Quest is a success story with younger students. And the Council’s membership has always been strong with experienced professionals who may have more time and funds to contribute to efforts that are important to them. Emerging professionals are an important group to engage in a meaningful way, before we lose track of them.

Want to get involved? Join us for a happy hour or some community service! Learn more at www.mogreenbuildings.org.