EVENTS: "Sustainability in Fire Protection" Conference - Day 3

Dispatch from SSC President Jennifer Woofter

I'm happy to report that my team won "brew pub bingo" last night. Never let it be said that I'm not motivated by a little competition. Of course, that means I'm a little tired this morning, the final day of our conference.

Fortunately, we kicked off the conference with a fabulous talk on sustainability standards and certifications by Rudolph Overbeek from Intertek. That, and a big cup of coffee, have energized me for the rest of the day.

Well, maybe not "energized" -- because, you see, I've been trying to cram in full days of conferences and associated activities AND keep up with my normal work schedule.  What that means in practice is that I've been getting up at 5am each morning so that I can get a couple of meetings out of the way before the conference begins each day. I've also been working late into the night, following up with emails, reviewing documents, prepping for stakeholder interviews next week, helping to develop a vendor code of conduct, amending a client's employee handbook to incorporate sustainability, and a dozen other things that I've blocked out of my head to preserve my sanity.

I love my work -- I really do. And I think I'm probably in the same boat as a lot of other people in the sustainability profession, seeing the vast amount of work that needs to be done and working overtime to get it done.

But there comes a time when personal sustainability comes into play and we need to take a big step back and realize that we can't go 100% all the time. Thankfully, this is a lesson that I've learned (albeit the hard way) over the last six years of running SSC, and I am careful to schedule a little down time during these frantic business trips.

Beginning tomorrow, I'll be in Portland for eight days -- the first six of which are blissfully unencumbered by anything more strenuous than a few telephone meetings. I plan on doing a lot of walking around, sitting in coffee shops, and taking in the Pacific Northwest vibe (which I have missed dreadfully since my undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon). Ahh, bliss.

I realize now that this dispatch has taken a turn dramatically different than a simple report on the conference proceedings. But perhaps the ongoing discussions about lifecycle approach have trickled down in a natural way to the personal level. Just as we must look at each stage of a product's life cycle to manage it responsibly, it makes sense to look at each aspect of our own lives and make sure that our "processes" are managed for long-term sustainability.

P.S. -- As a result of this conference, I have noticed that I check out the fire protection system (sprinklers? extinguishers?) in every building I enter. So please don't be freaked out when we meet next and I'm craning my neck to check out your office ceiling.