Lisa Lin is a Sustainability Manager within the City of Houston. What does that mean? Recent projects include optimizing energy use in city buildings, creating a bike master plan, implementing the anti-idling ordinance, electrifying the city’s vehicle fleet, developing a downtown car share, expanding the city’s bike share program, and sponsoring a farmer’s market at City Hall Plaza.
Lisa trained as an architect and designed buildings for a few years. “I worked for a commercial firm. We addressed energy and sustainability as code required. I wanted a more tangible connection to energy use and conservation.”
The two primary threads of Lisa’s sustainability approach can be summed up in the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – and a fourth one: Resiliency.
Houston is a pilot city for the ‘one bin’ waste recycling initiative. It takes single stream recycling to the next level, in which people no longer separate any waste. Diapers, food, organics, plastics, cardboard, everything is separated mechanically at a centralized facility. The goal is less than 5% of all waste will end up in a landfill. That’s a great approach for handling our waste but, “How about creating less waste from the start? I tell my school groups, remember reduce and reuse come before recycle.”
Lisa’s other focus is resiliency. “Stop talking about why the hurricane was so strong. Think about how we can get back on track in a positive way quickly.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“I see this division between sustainability professionals who feel that Big Data and technology will solve our problems and how that absolves us from personal responsibility.”