Dr. Anna Jones-Crabtree – A Sustainable Hero

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This year, budget-constrained US Federal agencies will sign billions of dollars in energy savings performance contracts with clean technology suppliers, under which energy savings pay for the cost of the clean technology. President Obama has called on government agencies to enter into $2 billion worth of these creative financing mechanisms in 2012. Eco-heroes such as Dr. Anna Jones-Crabtree have paved their way by showing, in the face of great resistance, that performance contracts, together with other energy efficiency initiatives, can save tens of millions of dollars. 

Many concerns were aired but none of them prevailed when the 100-percent recycled paper did not jam up the printers. However, Dr. Anna Jones-Crabtree accepts that being able to move beyond those myths and resistance to change was a part of the challenge that came with the implementation of widespread sustainability endeavors. Despite the resistance, she was able to lead a movement that has awakened the regional Forest Service offices to the benefits of sustainability and  prompted them to lessen their energy consumption as well as monthly costs.

Because of the significant sustainability gains and efficiencies that resulted from Dr. Jones-Crabtree’s efforts, the Federal Government was quick to recognize her. In October of 2010, Dr. Anna Jones-Crabtree received the White House Council in Environmental Quality’s Sustainable Hero Award at a ceremony held adjacent to the President’s room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It was one of a handful of recognitions during the inaugural GreenGov Symposium that was hosted by George Washington University. Even though Dr. Anna Jones-Crabtree did not get the chance to meet the president and the vice president, they signed her award.

It has been the goal of the past three administrations to push federal agencies to decrease their carbon footprint consumption as well as costs, and these efforts have heightened. President Obama has signed an executive order instructing all agencies to meet a range of water, energy and waste reduction objectives. The awards and symposiums that were held primarily targeted that directive. The purpose of the Sustainability Hero Award is to recognize individuals who are champions in sustainability and have become agents of change within their workplaces or agencies.

Dr. Anna Jones-Crabtree really wanted to work in her area of interest upon graduating from engineering in college and then pursuing a master’s degree in environmental construction. In 1992, she was hired for a job at the Forest Service in Delta, Colorodo. It was a job she so adored yet she still felt that she had so much to get done to improve operations to be more in line with the environmental-sustainability objectives of the agency. Small actions such as letting employees drive more fuel-efficient vehicles and prohibiting them from drinking bottled water was a starter. Years later while managing to get a degree in sustainable systems, Dr. Jones-Crabtree squeezed in part-time hours  and began working to ramp up efforts to reduce the agency’s carbon footprint.

Her small sustainability efforts led to a big change in the agency and showed that a commmitment to change is the catalyst to creating sustainable workplaces, even in big government bureaucracies.

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