Students join Next Gen cohort to learn about getting to zero in the built environment

This blog was originally published on on July 9, 2021. NBI is excited to welcome 20 students from college campuses across the United States and Canada to the inaugural cohort of the Next Gen program. Next Gen was designed to foster the next generation of leadership in the Getting to Zero buildings movement while bolstering better diversity in our industry. Participants in the program benefit from advanced practice educational opportunities, mentorship, professional development support, and participation in the 2021 Getting to Zero Forum. Next Gen is funded through sponsorships and is completely free to students.

Diversity in the buildings industry

According to a recent survey by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), 65% of respondents indicated that it was important or very important to increase diversity in the buildings industry. The Next Gen program is working to ensure that students, especially women and students of color, have the access to the knowledge, resources, and relationships needed to succeed, join leadership ranks, and make high-level decisions that will make buildings both an asset to the climate and a healthy place for people to live, work, and learn.

Our inaugural cohort includes students with a broad spectrum of professional interests and aspirations from architecture, real estate development, policymaking, HVAC design, and renewable energy technologies. 80% of Next Gen participants are students of color and 80% are women. Sena Sugiono, an environmental studies student at Yale University, shared his hopes for joining:

“I wanted to learn more about net-zero buildings and tie the ideas, principles, concepts, and innovations to the development of frontline and marginalized communities (including the presently-unhoused population demographic). My hope is that by gaining an understanding of net-zero principles in building design and efficiency improvements to help reduce the energy burden on these communities and provide affordable housing for everyone while protecting our planet and reducing the harmful social costs on said communities.”

The 2021 Next Gen cohort. Two students not pictured.

Mentors from leading businesses and firms have volunteered to guide the students over the course of the six-month program.

A word about our sponsors

The Next Gen program would not be possible without generous sponsor support. For companies intent on growing diversity in their ranks, sponsoring a student in the Next Gen program is an immediate way to get started.

Companies like Legrand, North and Central America have already made this investment because they believe it’s good business:

“As a manufacturer that focuses on sustainability in the built environment, we believe it is important to support the development of the new generation of building processionals well attuned to today’s social and environmental imperatives. We also recognize the importance of engaging fresh perspectives in the transition to net-zero building, including those of students and young professionals. By sponsoring and mentoring students of color of this year’s Getting to Zero Next Gen cohort, we seek to bring these diverse voices to the national dialogue on the future of the buildings industry,” said Alyssa Adnani, Legrand Better Communities Leaders.

Currently supporting Next Gen are these companies as well as individual contributors.

If you or your company are interested in supporting students in this cohort or the 2022 group, please email Meghan Humphreys at [email protected].

If you are interested in learning more about the program, please email Leada Fuller-Marashi at [email protected].

by Leada Fuller-Marashi, Events and Partnerships Manager




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