I became convinced that we must rethink our approach to sustainability while working towards my master’s degree in renewable energy. Ironically, my greatest inspiration did not come from the coursework, but the problems with my living environment. By most counts, my off-campus apartment was somewhat sustainable; the electric bills were not huge, the structure made efficient use of materials, and I could walk to many places.
However, it was not sustainable in that it did not allow me to sleep. The designers put zero thought into sound insulation and the general well-being of the occupants. My floor would literally shake when the people above me walked around or the people below me played loud music. Even sleeping with earplugs barely muffled the sound. And I could make my bedroom “dim” at best because the bright outdoor lighting seeped around the edges of my blackout curtain.
After about a year the effects of sleep deprivation started to take their toll. I distinctly remember the time when a cloud passed overhead, casting a shadow, and I ducked. Yes, at that time I knew sustainability had to focus first and foremost on creating environments that promote wellness. It’s my mission to discover, share, and create new ways to make living environments healthier and happier for everyone they affect.