Greenbuild Stories: Sean Madden, St. Louis Youthbuild

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter is collecting stories from members who attended the 2013 International Greenbuild Conference in Philadelphia, and we’re excited to share Chapter member Sean Madden’s story below. Sean recently completed a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with St. Louis YouthBuild, and received a scholarship to attend Greenbuild from the national USGBC.

In November 2013, I was given the opportunity to go to Greenbuild as a USGBC scholarship recipient. The other 60 recipients came from all over the world and from all different backgrounds. It was a pleasure to be able to connect with like-minded individuals with new perspectives on the problems we are all combating.

While spreading the green mentality to all corners of the world is paramount to the success of future generations, we must not shy away from the poverty-stricken – and often dilapidated – urban centers within our own borders and zip codes. In St. Louis, and many cities across America, there are blocks upon blocks of not only unsustainable living quarters, but entire neighborhoods of unlivable “homes”.

While at Greenbuild, I was able to see how some other cities have dealt with large-scale affordable housing – most notably in Boston and Philadelphia. Seeing how these projects have achieved Passive House (a phrase which I learned at Greenbuild) and other certifications, opened my eyes to projects St. Louis needs to be thinking about in the very near future.

Beyond the big, multimillion dollar large-scale affordable housing collaborative efforts, there are simple measures companies, citizens and training programs can begin to employ to increase the longevity and sustainability of their current properties. Learning more of these methods is one thing I set my sights on for the New Year.

Being a part of the YouthBuild family, I got the opportunity to spend an afternoon at YouthBuild Philly: a charter school and the preeminent YouthBuild program in the country by almost all accounts. It was impressive to see how they work with 250 students a semester (St. Louis YouthBuild currently works with about 70 students every two years) and what kind of extra-curricular activities they offer their students.

The only thing about my time in Philadelphia that disappointed me was the Liberty Bell and Philly Cheesesteaks. Perhaps I was expecting more, or maybe Greenbuild set my standards so high earlier in the week that I should not have expected the rest of the city to live up that.

Thanks to Sean for sharing his experiences! Have a Greenbuild Story you’d like to share? Contact Johanna Schweiss, volunteer & outreach coordinator.

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter is now accepting applications for our 2014 Greenbuild Scholarships. Learn more and download the application here.


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