On April 14, 2015, Resham “Rae” Shirsat observed her one-year anniversary as director of sustainability. Since her hire, she has undertaken the compilation of data and organized the College’s resource use and current practices in her department, a process that was necessary before developing solutions and initiatives, which she hopes to begin working more on in year two.
Resham shared that one of the most significant accomplishments to date is the year-long Chevy Motors Carbon Reduction Initiative project, which entails a data and time-intensive validation, verification and monitoring process that will earn the College approximately $250,000. Having students become interested in sustainability practices has also been a high mark.
“I am proud that presentations I’ve provided to students over this past year have attracted three student interns who are hungry for sustainability management experience,” Resham said. “Those students will go on to work in their different fields and be able to implement sustainable practices specific to their industry throughout their careers.”
Before retiring, her predecessor, Deborah Green, laid a firm foundation for sustainability awareness collegewide. Continuing that work, just last month Resham began to write a monthly column for The Juice titled, “Talking Trash with Resham,” after urging by a colleague to share more about the field and how it impacts each of us daily.
“It is encouraging to see that the Valencia community wants to do the right thing and is interested in gaining knowledge about how sustainability practices are incorporated into their work environment and home life,” she said.
After all, sustainability is all about community and relationships, she believes, and views the College’s connection to the community as most essential to this work.
“I’m inspired by the fact that partnering with the community is one of the Valencia’s strategic goals. The community looks to Valencia to be a strong partner and leader in the sustainability movement,” Resham said, explaining that while the cities of Orlando and Winter Park and Orange County all have teams of full-time, fully dedicated sustainability employees who are working aggressively to move the needle on sustainability, each entity views Valencia as a major stakeholder.
“We are a particularly valuable partner since we are an educational institution capable of promoting sustainable living practices through our curriculum and operations. I think the community views Valencia as a critical role model for action and best practices during these ever changing and uncertain times.”
Resham’s expertise as a highly-valued team member is duly noted by Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Sustainability Allen Bottorff, to whom she reports, who offered that to her credit, Resham is continually looking for what can make Valencia better.
“Rae epitomizes Valencia sustainability,” said Allen. “Her commitment to incrementally advancing our sustainability is one of the many gifts that she brings to our team — day in, day out. Without a doubt, she provides a new and welcome dimension to our facilities and sustainability leadership team and to the College.”
Resham’s colleague, Patti Riva, operations manager, energy education, adds, “Rae brings a wealth of knowledge about sustainability to Valencia … While I had always thought of myself as a sustainable-focused individual, I quickly realized there is so much more to learn. With Rae’s background and experience in this field, I have appreciated learning about more sustainable ideas and actions both for myself and for the College.”
Resham holds a Bachelor of Science in biology, a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and a Master of Science in environmental management, all from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook. In addition, she has certifications as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Building Design + Construction accredited professional (LEED AP BD+C) and is also a certified permaculture designer.
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.