2012 Greenovate Award winner Cynthia Loesch-Johnson is modeling sustainable housing in Dorchester with her LEED Platinum house.
The Greenovate community is a diverse network of Boston leaders making a difference in climate action. Read below for our conversation with a winner of the Greenovate Awards in our series Where Are They Now?
Cynthia Loesch-Johnson is a 2012 Greenovate Award winner for Green Home Conservation.
Tell us about your work and how it impacts Boston.
I serve as the current president of the Codman Square Neighborhood Council, a group that works to inform our community of opportunities to strengthen their health, families, and neighborhood. It has been in existence since the 1980s and continues to improve the health of the community every day.
The council works to empower residents by increasing communication between the Codman Square community, government departments, and elected officials to move Codman Square forward.
What did winning the Mayor’s Greenovate award mean to you?
I chose to build Dorchester’s first LEED Platinum home after hearing numerous presentations from developers at the Codman Square Neighborhood Council meetings proposing to develop in our community but not hearing about any efforts by them to build green, healthy homes.
I decided to lead by example and showcase that I could build a green and healthy home, which meant that the developers should be able to as well for other people. Winning a Greenovate Award for that effort was very important for our organization. It empowered us to hold developers accountable and advocate for green and healthy developments.
I managed the project from start to finish, hosting two community installations so that my neighbors could learn about its sustainable features. The first was the installation of the solar hot water heater and solar electric system. The second was to get up close with the thousand gallon rainwater harvesting system for our sustainable garden. You can read more about my house’s sustainable features here.
What leaders or organizations have influenced you the most? Why?
There are too many to count! One person that comes to mind is Jim Hunt, the previous Chief of Environment and Energy for the City of Boston. His expertise in clean energy, sustainable development, and community engagement was inspiring. He worked closely with our community on climate change issues.
What do you believe is the most pressing environmental issue of our time?
There are many issues that are pressing today. Public health is one, including the air quality of our homes and other buildings. We should think about what materials they are made from. Public health also touches on related issues like our food and where it originates. Pollution and climate is a another big one. We must address climate change by using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power and limit our waste and pollution. Action on on all of these fronts is vital to the preservation of our environment and our health.
What actions do you suggest people take today to get involved to act on climate?
I believe that public health advocates and environmental advocates need to band together and strengthen both efforts. From my own experience with this project, almost every decision made to make my home green also made it healthy.
Did this award reignite your motivation to continue your work?
Yes. We often refer to this award when thinking about future projects in our community and the importance of the built environment being healthy and sustainable.