Sustainability Podcast Part 3: Higher Education Targets Net Zero

February 8, 2023  | Robert Nieminen | Interiors + Sources Magazine

In this third and final episode in our three-part series on sustainable design, we hone in on the higher education market to learn how colleges and universities, both public and private, are setting (and achieving) aggressive sustainability targets on their journey to reach net zero. Guests Martha Larson, director of Sustainability for RMF Engineering, Jennifer Cordes, principal at Hord Coplan Macht, and Darrah Jakab, associate principal, sustainable design, at MHTN, join chief content director Robert Nieminen for a conversation about the successes and strides this industry is making in the field of sustainability.

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Meet Our Guests

Martha Larson, director of sustainability, RMF Engineering

Working alongside leadership at each of RMF’s eleven offices, Larson focuses on climate-driven and carbon reduction efforts across the firm’s utility and energy planning portfolio. Larson works with cross-disciplinary teams of energy master planners, building systems engineers, underground utility distribution engineers, and utility generation engineers to strengthen decarbonization strategies and implementation plans for clients across the country. She is also responsible for deepening RMF’s commitment to sustainability and identifying opportunities to further ingrain carbon reduction practices into the organization’s culture. Larson is professionally and personally dedicated to fighting the climate crisis on all fronts and working to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible. She loves the problem-solving aspects of engineering combined with its ability to create a more resilient, clean energy future.

Larson comes to RMF following more than a decade as the Manager of Campus Energy and Sustainability at Carleton College, where she championed campus-wide climate action initiatives. At Carleton, she oversaw the installation of the institution’s second commercial-size wind turbine, development of the campus climate action plan and a campuswide transition from district steam heating to low temperature hot water tied to a geothermal heat pump system. Larson’s role was directly responsible for reducing the college’s carbon footprint by nearly 70% since 2008. Prior to Carleton, she worked in Chicago as an acoustical consultant with Kirkegaard Associates and an owner’s representative with the Rise Group where her project portfolio featured many prominent cultural and performing arts projects.

 Jennifer Cordes, principal at Hord Coplan Macht

Darrah Jakab, associate principal, sustainable design, MHTN

As an architect, Darrah has experience guiding project teams through various certification processes such as LEED, WELL, and Zero Energy. Her background in environmental science, geology, and architecture helped pave the way for her exploration in sustainable design. Throughout her career, she has been championing the impact of sustainability and climate-responsive









About the Author: Robert Nieminen is the Chief Content Director of Architectural Products, BUILDINGS and i+s, sister publications of Smart Buildings Technology. He is an award-winning writer with more than 20 years of experience reporting on the architecture and design industry.
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Written by Anne Holden