May 22, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 22, 2023
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Carbon Zero Youth Initiative Launches to Empower Youth to Support Green Building Practices
Madison, WI May 18, 2023 - Youth can help make buildings more carbon-conscious–if they know what – and who – makes a building “green”. That’s the core idea behind the Carbon Zero Youth Initiative (www.carbonzeroyouth.org), founded to engage students ages 12-18 in the rapidly growing movement to decarbonize the built environment.
While currently responsible for about 40% of global CO2 emissions, buildings and structures offer many opportunities for large-scale carbon reductions, carbon sequestration, and circularity. “Empowering young people to understand and talk about this issue in their communities will help generate public awareness and prepare the next generation to be carbon-conscious leaders” notes Meghan Byrne, Carbon Leadership Forum staff and Carbon Zero Youth Initiative board member.
Carbon Zero Youth Initiative (CZYI) was inspired by a Girl Scout embodied carbon project that was launched in 2021. Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland Troops 1477 & 1952 created videos and presented to industry groups. As their project expanded, the benefits of engaging youth with the green building movement – for the youth, the planet, and the adults who listen – became clear.
“The CZYI aims to make learning about cutting-edge sustainability topics fun and accessible for youth” explains Julia Pooler, CZYI founder and the Girl Scout troop leader involved with the original project. “Most importantly, the CZYI will support youth in using their voices to encourage action, build life skills, share their passion for the planet, and explore careers”.
To that effect, the CZYI is collaborating with building industry groups and sustainability initiatives to bring topics such as embodied and operational carbon, life cycle analysis, carbon accounting, low-carbon materials, and building deconstruction into classroom and youth group settings. The CZYI will showcase carbon-conscious building practices and ways to take action through toolkits, games, interactive activities, video content, and patch programs. CZYI educational resources will be distributed free of charge and on-demand through partnerships with education organizations and will be available in multiple languages.
CZYI will also work to facilitate opportunities for youth to engage directly with building industry professionals. CZYI Board President Karin O’Brien, [Executive Director of ACI Missouri and a Scout leader] explains, “there is no more memorable way for youth to learn than by getting real world experiences! Site visits, participation in local industry events, and dialogues between students and professionals are a great way for youth to share their own passion for sustainability”.
CZYI is actively building its network of sponsors, community and education partners, and building industry volunteers. Any individuals, organizations or firms interested in the CZYI mission are encouraged to reach out.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 12, 2023
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YOUTH ENGAGEMENT TOWARDS CARBON-CONSCIOUS BUILDING PRACTICES SUPPORTED THROUGH $4,500 GRANT FROM THE RAY C. ANDERSON FOUNDATION TO THE CARBON ZERO YOUTH INITIATIVE
Madison, WI September 12, 2023 – The Carbon Zero Youth Initiative was recently selected to receive a $4,500 grant from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and Interface to support development of resources to educate and engage students ages 12-18 in the rapidly growing movement to decarbonize the built environment. Buildings and structures currently account for about 40% of global CO2 emissions, offering many opportunities for large-scale carbon reductions, carbon sequestration, and circularity.
“This generous grant from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and Interface will help the newly-launched Carbon Zero Youth Initiative (CZYI) introduce youth to ways the built environment can support global carbon reduction goals, highlight related careers, and provide toolkits to help the next generation of leaders encourage carbon-conscious building in their own communities.” explains CZYI Executive Director Julia Pooler.
The grant was part of the 2022 Interface Sustainability and Sales Award received by Jaap Van Joolen, Global Accounts Director at Interface, who selected the CZYI as the recipient of the prize money awarded jointly by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and Interface, based on mutual goals to support carbon neutrality in the built environment. Jaap Van Joolen explains, “The alignment of the objectives/mission of CZYI, Interface, and the Foundation are quite remarkable. With the creation of CZYI we have a wonderful opportunity to build the next generation of sustainability leaders, something Ray cared about deeply as evident in his beloved poem ‘Tomorrows Child”.
Van Joolen notes, "At Interface, we have changed our perspective on carbon from seeing carbon as the enemy to seeing it as a resource. We are transitioning to raw materials that use waste carbon or sequestered carbon to make our products. With our Climate Take Back mission, we aim to overcome the biggest challenge facing humanity and reverse global warming.”
The Ray C. Anderson Foundation was created in honor of the late Ray C. Anderson (1934-2011), founder of Interface, Inc. in recognition of his efforts to advance environmental stewardship and sustainability in industrial ecology. Following those values, the Foundation seeks to promote a sustainable society by supporting and pioneering initiatives that harmonize society, business and the environment for the present generation and tomorrow’s child.
The Carbon Zero Youth Initiative (CZYI) was inspired by a Girl Scout troop project launched in 2021 to raise awareness about embodied carbon and carbon-conscious building materials. Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland Troops 1477 & 1952 created videos and presented to industry groups, exploring different ways youth can learn about and give back to the global effort to decarbonize the built environment. The Carbon Zero Youth Initiative expands that project and works to empower other youth to support this critical effort now and as future leaders.