Katharina Wood, the newest addition to our Sustainability Consulting team, is a PhD student joining us all the way from Germany! She is studying at The Technical University of Dortmund, Germany and is a part of the research group, “Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures: American Models, Transatlantic Interventions,” or City Scripts in short. This innovative team of researchers share a mission to explore the “imaginative strategies and narrative scenarios which the centers of old industries (steel, coal and cars) in the United States and Germany are devising to forge paths into their futures.” Funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung — the largest scientific German private nonprofit organization involved in the promotion and support of academic research — City Scripts is a joint endeavor of the American Studies Departments of the University Alliance Ruhr. This unique program has allowed Katharina to join us at Epsten as she conducts comparative research between sustainable buildings in the United States and Germany.
Katharina hopes to combine her research on our team with her doctorate studies to inform her thesis, titled, “What is Green? Green Building Standards in the Ruhr and Atlanta Metropolitan Regions” that focuses on sustainable building from a transatlantic perspective. Katharina is conducting field research in Atlanta as well as “the Ruhr Metropolitan Area, which encompasses German cities like Dortmund or Essen, and is the largest metropolitan region in Germany with a history as an industrial region that is looking to move forward from its carbon-intensive past into a greener and more creative future.”
Katharina joined us because she strongly believes in learning and studying in an environment where you can thrive. She feels Epsten is a good place for her to learn about the sustainable building industry in Atlanta, make contacts, conduct interviews, and collect data about LEED and LBC-certified green building projects. So far, she’s enjoying her time here:
“I love the collaborative and inspirational work atmosphere. In the first month at Epsten I got to attend the USGBC’s Women in Green event with very inspirational speakers for which Epsten was also a main sponsor. I love Epsten Group’s engagement to empower women in the workplace in an engineering field. I have made great contacts here and felt welcomed warmly by everyone. The office is also a gem – the interior design is beautiful and the daylight views from the 26th floor are amazing!”
Her time at Epsten and the work we do here is very important to her; she explains that “researching green buildings and which concept of greenness or sustainability is bestowed in them is relevant because it’s important to know in which direction we, as a planet, are headed. Green buildings help mitigate the effects of extreme weather and climate change but also reduce global warming and prevent the increase of it.” Katharina believes that “sustainability can mean many different things; that is one reason why I believe green building rating systems are so important. They specify what we mean when we say ‘sustainable building’ or ‘green building’ and hold us accountable. For my view of sustainability, which means thinking long term and thinking use phases from cradle-to-cradle, the social aspect of sustainability should play a more prominent role. I hope in the future there will be many more green affordable housing projects.”
It’s no surprise that Katharina’s passion for sustainability permeates far beyond just her professional life. She explains that it ties in with her other loves of reading and learning. “I love to be inquisitive and curious,” she says. “I love the field of sustainability. I experience the benefits of it in my own life such as becoming more minimalist, which means freedom to me (financial and material), the beauty of sustainably crafted products (non-toxic and natural materials), and the freshness and vitality of being surrounded by nature and daylight. I believe green buildings create livable and healthy habitats for humans and other species.”
We’re thrilled to have Katharina with us for the coming months and can’t wait to read the innovative research her forthcoming thesis and work with City Scripts will contribute to the field of sustainability in the built environment.