Thursday, January 24, 2013

Member Profile: Megan Ramey

Key Details:
Sustainability Coordinator at A Better City's Challenge for the Environment
Market Sector: Non-Profit Organization

Contact information:
LinkedIn profile: Megan Ramey, LEED Green Associate
Personal Blog:

Megan works for "A Better City" here in Boston. For those of you unfamiliar with the organization, it is a non-profit formed out of an organization begun by around 100 businesses, mostly in real estate, around the Big Dig concerned how their employees would get to work during construction. They formed to mitigate and talk through all the issues with government and planners. Her job is to conduct programs for the members as part of the "Challenge for Sustainability" under the environment arm of the group. She likens it to a diet support group for businesses.

When did you first become interested in sustainability?
That would be in 2006 approx. I was working on my MBA at the University of Wisconsin. As part of that program we had to take a course on “Ethics and Sustainability.” That was my big light bulb moment. No one had talked to me about sustainably in terms of businesses and market transformation. Around the same time, I remember seeing an interview of Joni Mitchell and her writing Big Yellow Taxi and suddenly my career future became clear.

I tell people that my gateway drug to sustainability is transportation and this comes from a series of dramatic shifts in lifestyle from an early age.  As a child, I grew up in rural Wisconsin where I learned to bike after taking a Safety School class in kindergarten.  My bike symbolized freedom and I rode to school, to play in the woods or for soccer practice.  When I was 14, we moved to the suburbs of Atlanta in a planned community called Peachtree City that is designed around a series of paths for golf carts.  Even with this great system, it was still very uncool to bike, walk or take the bus and as soon as I turned 16, I started driving to high school.  The car is definitely king in Atlanta and my life revolved around driving.  Then, in college, I did a work abroad in London for a summer and took the Tube everywhere I needed to go.  When I returned home to Atlanta, I remember being skinnier and my mom commenting on great my legs looked and driving felt really weird and disconnected with society.  After graduating from college, I moved back to my birth city of Madison, WI and began to design my life around walking, biking and taking the bus and over the course of two years, I gradually lost 15 pounds without trying.  This lifestyle has remained a core value since and I can no longer live anywhere with a walk score less than 80 or where I am required to own a car.

How are you an environmental steward?
In my professional world, our Challenge for Sustainability is goverend by the Barr Foundation. Unless we achieve greenhouse gas reductions, we aren't funded. So by definition, if my job was not impactful in a positive way on the environment, I would be out of one.

Personally, I spend a lot of my time in advocacy. I serve on Livable Streets and the Boston Bikes advisory board. Most of my personal volunteering time goes into complete streets and livable communities advocacy.

In my more immediate life, I made the conscious choice to not have a car in 2008 when we moved to Boston. We were spending more time moving our car from parking space to parking space than spending with each other. With Zipcar being here, it was an easy choice to make. That and we also get most of our groceries from Boston Organics. No car needed.

I am continually trying to improve. This year my goal is to install container gardens in my yard.

Why are you a member of the chapter?
Architecture has always been something I've always been passionate about. When I was forced to make a decision between fashion and interiors, I did fashion, though looking back it seems that was the wrong choice. I’ve always had a huge appreciation of the built environment in terms of facilitating community interactions.

LEED and the USGBC was the first framework for sustainability that I came across. At one point I started a business called MoCo Market, an organic convenience store. My friend designed MoCo to LEED-Gold standards, so the USGBC has been there at the front of my head. When I moved to Boston I went to Greenbuild and volunteered as a young professional. It was like church for me. It helped inspire me and connect me to other young professionals. Now there are other organizations more specific to the work I do, but I still need to have a working knowledge of Green building 101 for my job.

If I wanted to find you on a Saturday afternoon, where would you be?
Most likely on some sort of multi-modal adventure. Say it was snowing; I will take the Fitchburg commuter rail ski train and ski right off the train onto the trail system in Lincoln. The weekend is filled with finding local places we have never been, whether they are cities, buildings, museums or public space. It’s fun to do something different by bike or train. We chronicle all the family adventures we have on a blog called Our pug, Gordo, narrates it like a comic strip and it was inspired by Curious George. Most recently we exposed the fun that is the traffic in Central Square.

We are looking to highlight our diverse and talented members. If you would like to be a future member profie, use the Contact Us form.

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