Celebrating International Women's Day (USGBC Northern California)
In recognition of International Women's Day last week, on March 8, I wanted to share that I am struck by the growing number of women in leadership roles, particularly in the sustainability field. In fact, there are many strong and empowered women who currently lead sustainability practices within a larger corporate structure or manage their own firms.
Prior to joining Thornton Tomasetti in 2013, I spent 19 years leading Simon & Associates, Inc., a green building consulting firm that I founded in 1994. I have personally spent more than 22 years in the green building industry, including consulting on numerous sustainability and LEED projects ranging from multifamily affordable housing to mixed-use high-rise developments.
Women have been enormously instrumental in creating and spearheading growth within the sustainability field and we are now entrenched within engineering firms that are traditionally male-dominated. Our roles are both technical and managerial, and we are serving in pivotal leadership positions to ensure that companies are “sufficiently diverse along three dimensions: people, ideas, and endeavors” (as highlighted in the January-February 2016 Harvard Business Review article, "The Biology of Corporate Survival"), as this is a critical component of survival in an increasingly complex world.
Part of what has been helpful for me is sharing my experiences with other women in a group that was founded two years ago called Women EmPower. The idea behind the group is to offer an informal, organic setting for women in the architectural, engineering, construction and tech industries to gather and discuss life and work issues. Thornton Tomasetti has hosted two Women EmPower events, with the most recent one, this past January, that focused on getting back to our roots of mentorship, networking and fun!
The sustainability field continues to evolve. The one thing, however, that won’t change is the way in which it is almost uniquely suited to a woman’s way of integral thinking, as it requires being both broadly and fundamentally synergistic. As a result, sustainability and green building will continue to be an area in which women thrive.
From left to right: Megan White, Lynn Simon, Andrea Traeber
Lynn Simon has more than 22 years of experience in the green building industry. She joined Thornton Tomasetti in 2013 after 19 years leading Simon & Associates, Inc., a green building consulting firm she founded in 1994. Her prior experience includes positions with USGBC and Global Green USA, a nonprofit dedicated to greening affordable housing.
Lynn has served on a number of USGBC committees and on the board of directors of several building industry organizations, including American Institute of Architects (AIA) San Francisco, the National AIA and USGBC. She is the recipient of USGBC’s 2011 President’s Leadership Award and was named one of 25 Environmental Champions by EnvironDesign Journal in 2005. Lynn is one of only a handful of people who are both an AIA Fellow and a LEED Fellow.