Alaina Kowitz: Where do you live and what do you do?
Drew Shula: I’m Founder & Principal at Verdical Group. We’re a green building consulting firm headquartered in Los Angeles. We work with our clients to build high performance projects, and we also throw the nation’s largest annual net zero building conference. Our built environment work is super diverse and includes: building certifications like LEED and Living Building Challenge, net zero energy, sustainability master planning, and technical services like energy modeling, and commissioning. We like to say we’re a full service green building shop, but what we really do is inspire our clients to build the best possible future. We want to see the built environment function in harmony with the natural environment.
AK: What are you most excited about for this year’s Living Future unConference?
DS: Hanging with my tribe. Living Future brings together an incredible group of sustainability leaders and I look forward to both seeing old friends, and meeting incredible new people. I always leave the conference recharged and inspired to dive back into my work making a positive impact on the world.
AK: Can you give us a taste of what you’ll be talking about in your session at Living Future?
DS: I’m speaking on a panel of changemakers from companies who are leading the way to redefine what it means to be “corporate.” These are for-profit companies that have achieved a B Corporation certification or a JUST label. These business certifications are all about transparency and measuring how a company can be well rounded — giving back to the environment, community and employees, rather than being solely focused on financial profit. Verdical Group is a B Corp and I’ll be speaking about our journey to certification, the challenges we faced, and the positive impact it’s had on our company and all those we touch.
AK: Where do you think we should be focusing as a sustainability community in 2018?
DS: Net zero. California often leads the way for the nation on environmental issues, and the upcoming California building code changes to require net zero residential building by 2020 and net zero commercial building by 2030, are a huge deal. 2020 is less than 2 years away! We’ve seen significant growth in our Net Zero Conference over the past four years since it’s inception and we see the momentum continuing to build in the years to come as we move toward 2030, but it will take a lot of work to realize a net zero future.
AK:If you’ve been to Living Future before, what’s your favorite thing about the conference?
DS: The keynote speakers are always amazing — a few of my past favorites have been Van Jones, Naomi Klein, and Denis Hayes.
AK: What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you over the past couple of years?
DS: Watching Verdical Group take off from a start-up to a more established company has been really exciting for me as a Founder. Sometimes I can’t believe how cool the projects are that we’re working on and I feel so lucky to go to work every day with our awesome team. On the personal side I’d have to say anything my daughters Acadia (age 7) and Cali (age 3) do is exciting for me, because there are so many firsts! Reading, riding a bike, swimming, walking…. Watching your kids learn really tunes you in to the beauty of every day life and see the world through young eyes again.
Attend Drew’s panel and other inspiring sessions at Living Future this May: http://2018.livingfutureunconference.org/