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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Amy Xu

 

My passion for environmental sustainability has taken me through an unconventional but very exciting journey. At 16 years old, speaking about climate change in front of 20,000 people who also cared about protecting the planet solidified my belief early on that sustainability was undeniably an important issue. From there, it catalyzed my decision to study sustainable urban design at UNSW and Harvard. I hope that by being able to think about sustainability through both a design and business lens, I’ll be able to generate real impact in the world alongside others who believe in change.

 

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

Sustainability to me means refusing to turn a blind eye towards environmental, social and political issues regardless of how uncomfortable it may be. Issues of sustainability can pertain to many areas in society, but for me, the cause which I am most passionate towards is environmental sustainability within urban centres. The sustainable development of cities, as a way to cope with a growing population and consumption needs is at the heart of what I personally believe deserves attention and collective effort.

 

What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?

I hope to work within the built environment industry in an effort to champion sustainable practices throughout the lifecycles of infrastructure projects and assets. Regardless of whether I become a landscape architect, project manager or analyst within the field, I see sustainability as a driving force and motivating factor throughout my career. As a long-term career goal, I hope to work from within an urban design firm to improve the infrastructure of cities, through advocating for environmental sustainability and indigenous rights. Infrastructure projects pose large potential to either drain or support environmental resources– by taking part in urban development, I see myself highlighting a sustainability as a priority wherever possible. 

 

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

The very first large-scale initiative I took on was a city-wide E-Waste Drive in high school- the issue sparked deep concern in my community, while garnering the attention of We Day Toronto organizers. I was fortunate to be invited to speak on behalf of Unilever at We Day, delivering a speech on the importance of youth in driving climate action. This early opportunity gave me the confidence to pursue my passion for environmental protection. In first year of university, I studied landscape architecture at UNSW in Sydney, Australia to learn about sustainable city design. While there, I volunteered at a food co-op which collected and sold otherwise wasted food. Building on my experiences at UNSW, I spent my last summer at Harvard studying urban design, with a focus on sustainable hydrology. My final project analyzed Boston for 22 potential green space sites, in order to redesign the ground water recharge system and reduce wastewater run-off. My involvement with sustainability through organizing, speaking, volunteering, and designing has been the highlight of my academic career and I truly hope to continue my engagement throughout my professional career. 

Amy Xu

Amy Xu