Profile In Sustainability – Kristi Sobol

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Kristi Sobol | Class of 2015 | B.S. Environmental Engineering 
What made you want to pursue an Environmental Engineering degree?
Growing up in Southern California, I took up surfing at a very young age and have always spent as much time as possible in the ocean. I began to notice the effects litter, pollution, overdevelopment, offshore drilling, etc. has on the ocean and beach communities. I knew I wanted to pursue a career that could further prevent the deterioration of our environment and preserve it for future generations – so they too can enjoy outdoor activities like surfing. I chose to pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering because it is a vast and versatile field, where the ultimate goal is to improve and protect the environment, as well as create a better quality of life for human beings. Environmental Engineering includes, but is not limited to, waste management, water treatment, air pollution mitigation, alternative energy development, sustainable building, public health improvements, etc. Studying Environmental Engineering at UCSD was one of the most rewarding experiences!
What area of sustainability are you most interested in and why? 
The area of sustainability I am most interested in is green building and the sustainable development of communities. This interest sparked while I was an intern for the Southern California Gas Company, working out of the Energy Resource Center: a model energy-efficient building, using sustainable technologies to minimize its impact on the environment and natural resources. I had an eye-opening experience of how much waste buildings generate – everything from building materials, electricity, water usage, trash generated by the occupants, transportation to buildings, etc. As human beings, we need shelter; there will always be buildings and community development. I’m passionate about working towards solutions to make our buildings and communities more sustainable, smarter, and providing the most comfort for people. My interest in green building eventually led me to become a LEED GA (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Associate).
What sustainability organizations were you involved with while at UC San Diego?
While I was at UCSD, I was part of the Student Sustainability Collective (SSC), where my role was the Director of Finance and the Green Initiative Fund. I was responsible for approving and tracking funds for all SSC events and campus sustainability initiatives. I also managed the Green Initiative Fund, which is money given to student projects that promote sustainability on campus. Some of the projects I worked on during my time with the SSC include Solar Chill, expansion of the community gardens, and installation of hydro stations around campus.
Could you talk about your current and previous sustainability-related work experiences and what were some of the most valuable things you gained/learned from those experiences? 

I mentioned some of my previous sustainability-related work experiences above. Previously, I was also an intern for San Diego Gas & Electric and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, implementing company-wide sustainable initiatives, practices, and technologies. I currently work in the Public Works Department for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, working on installation development and construction; ensuring it protects natural resources, minimizes facility footprints, and enhances the quality of life for the military community.

From all these experiences, I have really learned the importance of teamwork and creating positive relationships. Many of my accomplishments are due to a team supporting me – whether it was my family, engineering senior design team, SSC directors, fellow interns, my coworkers, etc. A lot more is accomplished when people work together and help each other. In terms of sustainability, it is going to take a group effort to mitigate the damage to the environment and make efforts together to preserve it for the future.