Green.Org had the chance to chat with Eleni Polychroniadou, co-founder and commercial director of Sintali. Sintali is a start-up and environmental certification body who report upon and verify the environmental impact of buildings. They believe every building can be green and work with businesses to transition their buildings to zero-carbon.
Hi Eleni, can you tell us a little bit about you and your background?
I am the co-founder and commercial director of a start-up called Sintali. We are an environmental verification body, which means we validate sustainability claims made in the built environment, and we are on a mission to make sure every building on this planet is green. Most people assume I’m an architect by background given the topic but my degree is actually in environmental policy and my experience has been in communications and sustainable business. I fell into the green building space in a happy accident a few years ago and have never looked back. What really drew me to green buildings was the potential for impact and scale. We are surrounded by buildings, and we will always have buildings in our lives. Buildings contribute almost 40% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, so the potential to mitigate climate change is significant.
What is a fun fact about you?
I switch between a British accent and an American accent without realising. I grew up in the UK and spent seven years in America, so my accent adapts to my environment. My colleagues will tell you that it is very bizarre to hear it happen within the space of minutes!
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
The climate crisis affects each and every one of us, regardless of where we live, what our job is and what our background is. It has always been an important topic but perhaps it has come more to the forefront in the last two years, largely because of the physical changes we are already seeing around the world. As these physical changes become more evidence, we are witnessing changes in three key stakeholder groups. First of all, governments are taking the climate crisis more seriously and taking steps to mitigate the worst impacts. This became most apparent in the Paris Agreement in 2015, which was the biggest climate agreement since the Kyoto Protocol. Second of all, financial institutions are making serious moves to derisk their investments and finance the transition to a sustainable future. This is sending strong signals to companies that they need to change their businesses or lose out on access to finance. And finally, consumers are demanding from governments and businesses to take sustainability more seriously. As more people are exposed to extreme weather events, changes in crops and agricultural patterns, and changes in migration patterns, there is a growing awareness and pressure from the general public that affects policymakers and businesses.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
Sustainability is going to become the status quo, and we will shift from a model of incentivising good sustainable behaviour to a model that penalises those who aren’t making sustainable choices in business and government.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
We typically focus on what individuals can control, such as their meat choices, transportation choices and recycling habits. While food and transportation choices have a significant impact on an individual’s carbon footprint, individuals also have a lot of power through their spheres of influence. An average person is part of the broader ecosystem and society, and can influence many things including their community, their business and their local politics. In my opinion, the real difference comes when all individuals evaluate their role within their community and identify the best ways to exert change. For example, voting for elected officials who support environmental policies, making conscious shopping choices that are better for the environment, engaging and educating the younger generation on environmental choices, and shifting habits at a larger level than just what happens at home. All of these changes can truly change things at a systemic level and help us realise that individuals have much more power over things than they realise.
Thanks Eleni, for chatting to Green.Org about working towards a zero-carbon future for our buildings.
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