Day in the Life of a Sustainability Consultant: Lucinda Brown

At Strategic Sustainability Consulting, we're often asked what it's like to be a sustainability consultant on a day-to-day basis. Our general reply is that every day is different -- and that's what makes our jobs so amazing, challenging, and fun.

This summer, we've invited several of our colleagues to share a "day in the life of a sustainability consultant" snapshot. While not necessarily representative of their entire jobs as sustainability consultants, it's a window into what goes on in our crazy lives.

Click in case you missed the sneak peek into Jennifer Woofter’s or John Silkey’s day.
Today we get a glimpse from Lucinda Brown, SSC’s Sustainability Roadmap Extraordinaire:

My day begins with the sound of the coffee grinder telling me my husband nearly has the coffee ready.  So I take a few minutes to let myself wake up.  Having read last night about the importance of this time (from the new Jonah Lehrer book, “Imagine – How Creativity Works”) I try to consciously savor this moment before “coming to my senses!”

I move into the living room where my cappuccino awaits and enjoy an hour or so watching, “Morning Joe.” (I confess to be a bit of a political junky, so I like waking up to a debate about current events with voices from both sides of the argument.) Multi-tasking, I check email and my calendar over a bowl of cereal and return to the discussion as I say good-bye to my husband whose job requires him to commute into D.C. during rush hour.

Fortunately, I can spend rush hour in my garden!  It’s July, the peach tree is laden with fruit and this year, I’m learning my lesson!  Usually I wait until they’re ripe before picking them, but invariably I wind up with no harvest at all.  (Darn those fat, self-righteous squirrels!)  So before sitting down to work, I go out front and pick a basketful of fruit—colorful but still hard.  After a quick word with my neighbor’s kids about cat sitting for us when we go to Maine, I sit down to my desk around 8:30am.

First order of business: check the status of my new website.  Inspired by Strategic Sustainability Consulting’s and Taiga’s course, “Social Media for Sustainability Professionals,” I finally took the plunge and created my own online presence.  (Thank you, Jennifer and Julie!)   Googling my company returns STET Sustainability Consulting as the third result!  Hooray!

Switching gears, I correct a client’s Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) report.  It turns out this only requires me to correct three typos and remove two words from the company description.  All that upfront time building a spreadsheet to crunch the numbers paid off!

I have a meeting in an hour with a client who is preparing to apply for the Green NeighborWorks Organization designation. We’ve been working with their asset and property management team to develop a full set of planning documents that will support their sustainability vision.  In the home stretch now, I make some notes about how to get them over the finish line—always the most difficult part of any project!

After wrapping up my report on our progress, I take a break to grab some lunch and roust my son from his computer game.  (Since he didn’t succeed in arranging summer employment, we insisted on summer school and he is taking a well-earned break!)  To add insult to injury, in his mind, I ask him to go outside and make a dent in the lawn before the forecasted thunderstorms hit.  

Happily back to work, I turn to a paper I’ve been writing. Finding that some clients start their journey to sustainability as a reaction to outside events, I want to have a series of primers ready for them to reference.   My current project is pulling together advice to support their purchasing policies.

The next thing I know, it’s dinner time! I do a quick search for how to use green peaches and get a few ideas.  For now I’ll put them in the salad I had already planned.  (Tomorrow I’ll stop by the farmers market to get ingredients for peach salsa and see what they have to put in a conserve.)  Since my daughter is off in Cambodia on a global outreach program, I happily cook quinoa and beans with the knowledge I won’t have to field complaints.

Just as I get food on the plates, my husband walks through the door with that look of fatigue only rush hour traffic can produce.  I pop open a Sam Adams, my son grabs the milk, and we sit down for a family dinner.