For the past seven years USGBC has made Greenbuild accessible to people who would otherwise not be able to attend through a scholarship program. At last year’s Greenbuild in New Orleans, 156 individuals received some type of scholarship to Greenbuild. Scholarship recipients represent a diversity of people from around the world. Each has a story to tell. Each brings their own passion to their work. Each has a role to play in making green buildings and communities a reality for all.
As we lead up to Greenbuild 2015 in Washington, D.C., we will highlight a handful of the awesome individuals who joined us last year. We welcome them to the USGBC community and encourage you to follow their stories. This installment is a question and answer piece with Dhruti Patel.
What is your hometown?
I was born in London, England and grew up in Mumbai, India.
Where do you live now?
Saint Charles, IL
Tell us a little about yourself.
I moved to the Chicago area in Illinois 10 years ago. I have experienced a five-day potable water shortage, weekly electrical blackouts, complete independence from a car, complete dependence on a car, and combined sewage overflow. I currently manage the Energy Center at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy as I complete my Master’s degree in Energy Engineering. The reason I chose to become a civil engineer was to address the challenges I faced in India, in the U.K. and the U.S. I am also the co-founder of The Generation Green Project, part of The Chicago Community Trust's accelerator program called Collaboratories. The GenG Project is an initiative to inspire youth to strengthen their creative talents, explore their professional future and mobilize positive social impact through sustainability. The initiative strives to connect youth to the green industry.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Malala Yousafzai, Amy Poehler, President Obama, Vandana Siva, Shane Smith, Vikram Gandhi, Richard Ayoade and Benazir Bhutto
What drove you to apply for the Greenbuild scholarship?
I had the opportunity to attend Greenbuild in Chicago when I was an undergraduate engineering student. I remember walking away feeling inspired, excited and motivated by the green movement. I was driven to action by the green building community and decided to be actively involved with USGBC even after graduation. Currently, I am an Emerging Professional member with the USGBC Illinois chapter and will be representing the Chicago EPs on the Board of Directors for USGBC Illinois. I applied for the scholarship because I wanted to feel inspired again. Applying for the scholarship was the best decision of my life. Not only did I walk away inspired, excited and motivated, but I am now part of an amazing community of EPs who strive for social impact. The experience was life changing and truly electrifying because for one week I was surrounded by people who are striving to change the world.
The thing that inspired me the most at Greenbuild was...
Where do I start? Dr. Anwti Akom's presentation on Eco-Apartheid at the Affordable Homes & Sustainable Communities Summit was inspiring. Another moment that stood out to me was when USGBC Board Chair, George Bandy met with scholarship recipients and said, "We all can do good but we have the capacity for greatness."
The most fun I had at Greenbuild was...
Hanging out with Jasmin Rajak (another scholarship recipient) and people from Chicago! We had a great time exploring the city, the conference and the NOLA culture. #bonding
The coolest person I met at Greenbuild was...
My guide on a tour of New Orleans who said: "Well, I live in this city because I love this city, period.”
What are your next steps or aspirations after attending Greenbuild?
After attending Greenbuild, I felt and still feel empowered. Being introduced to people who have achieved success by following their passion has made me realize that I too can be a change agent and achieve success by disrupting the status quo. The next step for me is to become a social entrepreneur by bringing The Generation Green Project to the market. Since my initiative became part of The Chicago Community Trust’s accelerator program, I have been exposed to influential leaders and political figures within the city of Chicago. Chicago plans on becoming one of the green hub cities of the U.S. Just as the technology industry has made its home in Silicon Valley, Chicago is striving to make the city the home for the green movement. I am truly excited to be part of a community of thought leaders looking to expand Chicago’s image through sustainability and resiliency.