I spent 10 weeks this summer interning at Crescent Communities, a Charlotte-based land and real estate development firm, under their Director of Stewardship and Innovation. From a sustainability viewpoint, it certainly seemed like I was behind enemy lines, working for a company that makes profit from developing and deforesting untouched lands. There were moments this summer when I couldn’t deny that reality, but above all my experiences this summer at Crescent Communities taught me extremely valuable lessons about sustainability in urban development and living.
Populations are growing and most population growth, especially in developed nations, is happening in urban areas. Thus, we don’t have another option but to redesign or expand our cities to accommodate this population growth. There are a lot of factors and a lot of parties that need to be involved and invested in sustainable growth and development of urban areas. Businesses like Crescent show the positive impacts that the company both gives and receives as a result of making concerted efforts to be responsible and sustainable.
This summer, I assisted my boss with managing Crescent’s sustainability certifications, developed a database of energy rebates that could be available to Crescent’s multifamily and residential development projects, researched and complied exemplary green buildings and schools to use as sustainability references for upcoming projects, and helped develop a partnership with a company that produces and installs solar-powered EV charging stations. Throughout this work, I also got to observe my fellow intern manage existing and forge new relationships with Charlotte-area nonprofits.
All of these experiences evolved my view of urban sustainability, and it was extremely rewarding and heartening to work for a company that does so much to improve their community. I may have been technically working for the ‘bad guy’, but Crescent Communities is the most respectable and dedicated ‘bad guy’ developer out there. Crescent and its employees display not only a good work ethic, but also a general sense of ethics that shines through in the community and environmental investments they’ve undertaken. Sustainability of an urban ecosystem is multi-faceted, and citizens and businesses have a tremendous power to help responsibly transform cities. Working at Crescent made me realize that I can be both a citizen and part of a business that works to create sustainability, a sentiment reflected in my recent decision to make my ES focal area urban sustainability. Urban centers are the future of sustainability across the globe, and it’s vitally important to make sure sustainability is truly achieved, and businesses, citizens, and cities alike are beginning to develop through a sustainable lens.