St. Louis native and current Kansas City resident Sara Greenwood knew when she was in college that she was passionate about environmental studies, but she did not quite know where to put that passion.
“Honestly what I do today didn’t exist as a profession when I was in school,” Greenwood said. “I kind of fell into it, in a lucky way.”
Founding Kansas City-based Greenwood Consulting Group and becoming the area’s only green building consulting services specialist is only part of what Greenwood “fell into”. For 16 years, Greenwood has immersed in the green building space. She’s been working toward creating ways for buildings to be more energy efficient, water efficient, conscious of material resources, and healthy for all who enter them.
Greenwood became a (LEED) accredited professional in 2005, certifying her as a professional in sustainable design and construction. While working for California firm CTG Energetics, Inc., Greenwood spent time helping certify green building projects, working on carbon emissions reporting, and informing updates to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system that uses a range of categories to determine a building’s sustainability level.
After moving to Kansas City in 2012, her first green building work in the city was for Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), a collaborative that aims to create designs for building sustainable schools. Since then, she has worked on a vast number of green building projects including the KCI Airport, the Lenexa Civics Center and an expansion to the Georgia Aquarium.
She was recently named a LEED Fellow, a title given by Green Business Certification Inc. to individuals who have made a particularly large impact in green building.
“It was a huge accomplishment,” Greenwood says. “I was thrilled because it took a lot of work to get there. I really had to sit down and fully quantify the impact I’ve made on a local level, on a state level on a regional level on a national level and on an international level.”
In a time where multiple people inside a building’s space at once is more dangerous than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greenwood says ensuring a healthy environment and within buildings is especially important.
“In light of (COVID-19) I think it’s been a wake up call,” Greenwood says. “With the pandemic in particular, I think people are pretty paranoid to come back to the office. Depending on your comfort level, there are certain things that building owners and managers can do to try and ensure a healthier work environment for when they return.”
Greenwood sees good things in the future of green building and says when it comes to creating a healthy and sustainable environment, Kansas City is doing a lot more work than it’s getting credit for. She hopes to continue to be a part of it.
“I’m hopeful particularly with our current presidency and our re-engagement with the Paris Climate (Agreement) and the new head of the EPA, Michael Regan,” Greenwood says. “It truly is a city, state, regional, and national kind of opportunity to do better.”