Kirsten Swanson

For the past eight years, USGBC has offered scholarships to make Greenbuild accessible to people who would otherwise not be able to attend. For Greenbuild 2015, 94 individuals received a scholarship. Recipients represent a diverse group of people from around the world. Each one has a story to tell and brings their own passion to their work. Each one has a role to play in making green buildings and communities a reality for all. 

As we lead up to Greenbuild 2016 in Los Angeles, we will highlight a handful of the awesome individuals who joined us here in Washington, D.C., for Greenbuild 2015. We welcome these folks to the USGBC community. 

Ninette Burac 

Hails from: Panama City, Panama 

Sustainability background: I've spent most of my time in Panama, where I studied to become a civil engineer and currently work.  Almost nine years ago, I decided to work in the United States as a site plan designer, and I discovered I loved water resources! I then enlisted for my master's degree in water resources at the University of Central Florida. It sparked my interest in all topics related to preserving water, water quality, sustainability, low impact development (LID) strategies and everything green. My current role as a construction specifier allows me to implement what I've learned so far.   

Most inspiring part of Greenbuild: The Communities and Affordable Homes Summit, especially the session about Food, Energy and Culture. 

Most fun part of Greenbuild: Networking with other scholarship recipients and visiting the city and museums together (this includes the Greenbuild Celebration!). 

Next steps: I plan in the future to be a LEED consultant in my country, to have an influence in projects that will set the bar, especially in low-income areas with green developments to demonstrate that sustainability is not necessarily expensive. 

Sally Hassan 

Hails from: Egypt 

Sustainability background: I am an architect who works for a design and engineering consulting office. However, my work doesn't include the use of any green strategies, so I decided to pursue studies. As an architect, a major problem that I wanted to address was how to understand and reduce the environmental impact of my designs. My thesis, "Environmental Sustainability of Building Materials and Assessment Methods," mainly discussed life cycle assessment (LCA) and how every stage of a product in the building can affect the whole process. My studies showed that conducting an LCA assessment in the early stage of the design process can have a fundamental effect on the design and shape of the building. 

Most inspiring part of Greenbuild: The power of volunteers and how they can contribute in the green movement and help their communities. 

Most fun part of Greenbuild: Having fun with other scholarship recipients and going out every night. 

Next steps: To me, it was an unforgettable experience. You walk out and decide you have to be a part of this. My next step is to get my credential as a LEED Green Associate.  

Michael Sweeney 

Hails from: Terre Haute, Indiana 

Sustainability background: I grew up the fourth of six children, and started working construction when I was 16 because I needed money. I turned down a union job to go to Purdue University and get a B.S. in Building Construction Management. After a year of working in the industry, I left to study philosophy for two years at University St. Mary of the Lake, but didn't get a degree. My philosophy and construction experience allowed me to work for the Diocese of Joliet as a facilities manager, which is where I have been for the last four years. I spend my free time doing a lot of volunteer work, because I sit on the Catholic Charities Board of Young Professionals as the volunteer coordinator.  

Most inspiring part of Greenbuild: The Communities and Affordable Homes Summit. 

Most fun part of Greenbuild: The volunteer party on Tuesday night (After Hours, Volunteer Community Celebration). 

Next steps: I would like to establish a more comprehensive plan for the the work I do to look at how my facilities operate and consume resources. Through Greenbuild and specifically the scholarship recipients, I have made some solid connections with those who have been able to help me come up with an action plan. I am currently working on developing a pilot project for sustainability for the Diocese in the hopes that it will become a model that parishes and church can replicate with their own facilities.

Learn more about Greenbuild scholarships