Green.org sat down with Adam Meltzer, Sustainability Account Manager at Stok, to learn about his journey transitioning into a sustainable career. Stok offers a variety of services to ensure real estate owners and occupiers invest wisely and transition their buildings to be more sustainable.
David, thank you for being here. Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I’m a bit of a unicorn. I started off the first 15 years of my post college adult life in the motion picture and TV industry in Los Angeles. I woke up one day and had an epiphany. I realized that I didn’t want to work in that industry anymore (for many reasons), mainly because I needed to find more purpose in my life. I decided that I would pursue sustainability in the built environment. I studied for the LEED AP exam in 2009, took the exam, passed and started networking in Los Angeles to begin my new career.
My first job in my new career was working on a LEED for Existing Building certification of the SAA office building in Culver City, CA. From there I went on to work with several different people freelancing as a consultant. I also spent five years working with my good friend Justin Yoffe at Arts Earth Partnership (AEP), a non-profit in Los Angeles that certifies arts facilities through a custom sustainability certification system. The system was eventually adopted by both the City of Los Angeles and the City of Santa Monica as their green business certification. After a few decades of being tied to the City of LA for work I realized with my new career that I could move to other cities and took a job offer in Portland, OR with Green Building Services (GBS).
At GBS, I had the opportunity to work with Fortune 500 companies such as Nike and VF Brands working on retail store sustainability. Eventually I made my way to Denver, CO where I started working with Ambient Energy and then eventually migrated over to Stok where I currently work today.
What is a fun fact about you?
My fun fact is part of answer number 1! I worked as a cinematographer and specialty lighting technician for commercials, music videos and feature films in Los Angeles. Major career shift.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
We are on the precipice of major changes with our climate. It’s already started. Superstorms, wildfires, poor air quality from various industries. We have seen what it looks like to be a slave to a poisoned environment. Look at India. The top 18 cities with the worst air quality are in India, Pakistan and China. The US doesn’t even make the top 100. Still we are responsible for 14% of the world’s emissions, second only to China. Emissions and embodied carbon are largely responsible for GHG emissions from new and existing buildings. Materials and waste also need to be focused on through the design and construction. If we don’t address emissions and forever chemicals that are borne from materials that are used to.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
10 years from now I hope every company is tracking and reducing their carbon output. Scope 1,2 and 3 emissions should be minimized. Whether it is operational, embodied, design or construction produced carbon it is critical that every company understand their impact on the planet and their local community around them. Utilities and many companies will be more than 30% towards their 2050 goals around getting to zero carbon, zero net energy, zero waste, net positive water, material health, health and wellness. We will see if there is much reporting and marketing and little action or if companies are digging into their sustainability goals and creating real measurable change. I’m hoping it’s the latter.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
A friend recently asked me, “What can I do to help us all move towards a better future with our environment?” Even though I work in the world of sustainable design, I paused for a moment. My first thought was, “Can what my friend does as an individual actually make a difference compared to what the top 20 corporations take, make and waste?” The second thought was, “Of course, what we do as individuals can make a difference!” This is why. There are 7.9 billion people on the planet, over three million in the metro Denver area, and almost 15,000 people just in my neighborhood in Denver. If everyone did just four things, starting today, it would make a measurable difference:
1. Bike to work
2. Consume less
3. Purchase with a conscience
4. Buy or install clean energy for your home
David, thank you for sharing your journey transitioning into a sustainable career.
Join the biggest leaders in business, energy, and tech share their vision for a sustainable future at The 2023 Green Summit.