Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tips from Working Planners

Source: APA Website

Dale Medearis, Ph.D.
Senior Environmental PlannerNorthern Virginia Regional Commission

What I Do:
Among other things, I coordinate the commission's energy, climate, and sustainability initiatives. I also assist in the management of the organization's international cooperation that now extends to approximately 20 other regional councils in Europe.

How I Got Where I Am Today:
I spent 20 years at the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Office of International Affairs, mostly coordinating its work with urban environmental planning and Europe. I also had the privilege of spending a lot of time in Germany studying "green" buildings, land use, brownfields, watershed management, and local climate initiatives. Even after a short while in European cities, it is easy to see that there is lots to learn and apply to the benefit of our own local and regional sustainability initiatives. Last year I decided to leave my job at EPA and work in Northern Virginia to apply much of the innovation from Europe that I encountered while in Germany and at EPA.

What I Look for When Hiring:
We are a small office — six within the environmental planning division. I would say that the skill that invariably characterizes our office is a collection of great people who thoughtfully balance understanding of the technical and policy-making aspects of the environmental issues affecting the region. The team here is highly motivated by a strong passion to explore new approaches and strategies that will advance sustainable development in northern Virginia and beyond. There is a creative enthusiasm that permeates the work of my colleagues.

Advice for New Planners:
I have to encourage environmental planners to consider the importance of classes or courses that deal with energy (supply and consumption) in general but renewable energies and their integration with climate change in particular. There are many well-intentioned local/regional initiatives that sincerely try to deal with climate change. Unfortunately, they lack integration with actionable energy plans.

Posted by: ValBona Kokoshi

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