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.  

Aaron Handelsman

Hails from: Detroit, Michigan

Sustainability background: I am a transformational coach and consultant with a focus on helping individuals and organizations create sustainable and invigorating work and relational environments. I focus on direct communication, relationship dynamics and values clarification. I also work with the Detroit People's Platform as the senior policy advocate, with a focus on alternative land use solutions and permanently affordable housing solutions. I specialize in community land trusts and helped crowdfund $108,000 in eight days to start Detroit's first community Land Trust, the Storehouse of Hope CLT.

Most inspiring part of Greenbuild: Size and Scale and Deepak Chopra's keynote.

Most fun part of Greenbuild: The Talent FX room and the improv workshop.

Next steps: I met some wonderful folks at Greenbuild and look forward to building on the new relationships I developed there. I'd like to return as a presenter in the not-too-distant future to explore the intersections of architecture, design and social issues such as racial justice and equitable development. 

Mireille Garcia

Hails from: San Diego, California

Sustainability background: I am a sophomore at San Diego State University, pursuing my bachelor's degree in environmental engineering and a minor in chemistry. I made a decision to major within a profession where I can help make a positive difference on Earth. When I found out about Greenbuild, I knew I had to attend because I wanted to learn more about the actions I could specifically take to make the planet more sustainable. I was intensely intrigued by everything I learned and everyone I met. I was so inspired by what I learned at Greenbuild from architects and engineers that I decided to dual-enroll at the New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego. I am now in the process of completing my environmental engineering degree while starting a new adventure in architecture.

Most inspiring part of Greenbuild: The networking opportunities with people who are taking actions to make the planet sustainable.

Most fun part of Greenbuild: Learning about anything and everything I could.

Next steps: My plan is to graduate from San Diego State University and obtain a career within the green building field—that way, I can contribute too. During my time at San Diego State University, I also plan to become a LEED Green Associate. 

Claire Christiansen

Hails from: Lindon, Utah

Sustainability background: I'm a senior in the interior design program at Utah State University, and excited to graduate in a few short weeks! As president of the USGBC student chapter at USU, I've had great experiences working with fellow students to learn, educate and participate in experiences that have helped shape our campus and community through sustainability. Last fall, our USGBC student chapter worked in a permaculture garden on campus, and learned about its efforts to emphasize renewability, sustainability and self-sufficiency. I try to focus on green design in my student projects, and loved the opportunity I had last summer to intern at an architecture and design firm in Salt Lake City, where I helped with projects seeking LEED certification. 

Most inspiring part of Greenbuild: I was really inspired by motivating speakers, green initiatives going on around the world and the invaluable resources I learned about.

Most fun part of Greenbuild: Exploring the beautiful city of Washington, D.C., eating great food and meeting incredible people from around the world.

Next steps: I plan to work at a commercial architecture and design firm, become a LEED AP, and promote awareness for sustainable design and building practice wherever I go! I'm grateful for everything I learned and experienced at Greenbuild that I'll be able to take with me in my career.

Learn more about Greenbuild scholarships