Meet a Southfacer: Chandra Farley

Chandra on landingAs project manager for Southface events, Chandra manages the upcoming Greenprints conference, the annual Visionary Dinner and other events including the bi-annual Solstice parties and EarthCraft Awards.

How did you come to work at Southface?

My introduction to Southface was through Laura Capps, director of residential green building services. I was transitioning from a career in interior design back into the meeting and events industry and she invited me to attend the 2008 Winter Solstice. Southface was preparing to officially open the Eco Office and three months later I was hired to develop the
facility rental and tours program as well as manage trainings, meetings and events.

What do you like most about your job here?

It is constantly changing. Since starting in April 2009, each year has brought with it new responsibilities, bigger challenges and more opportunities for professional advancement. With the support of Southface, I have been able to grow as a leader in the community and, more specifically, the local meetings and events industry. Most recently that has manifested in a position as board member for the Atlanta chapter of the Green Meetings Industry Council.

Can you explain the process of “greening” an event?

The first step to greening an event is a commitment to lessen your impact. Meetings and events can be very resource intensive, so the initial commitment guides each decision towards reducing those resources. From venue to food and beverage, to supplies and transportation, you begin by identifying the areas where you can make sustainable decisions. Here at Southface, I developed a guide for sustainable practices in meetings and events. It offers a framework to help clients meet their green meeting goals. Deciding what to have for lunch? Skip the bottled water and select caterers committed to sourcing from local farms. Deciding on a venue? Start with those that have implemented energy efficient practices and are within walking distance to local transit.You won’t be able to implement everything all of the time, but there will always be one or two things you can do.

What drives your passion for sustainability and the built environment?

As someone who likes to solve problems, sustainability appeals to me on a variety of levels – most prominently, the interconnectivity, understanding how one thing impacts another. Whether building an energy efficient house or planning a green event, I believe the sustainable principals that inform those processes can become a roadmap for uncovering solutions to some of our most pressing global challenges.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I really enjoy volunteering my time to causes I am passionate about. It’s a great way to meet new people and engage my interests, such as design and mentoring. Currently, I’m able to appreciate all of those as director of communications for Architecture for Humanity Atlanta. We provide pro bono design and construction guidance to organizations that might not otherwise be able to afford those services. Locally our projects have ranged from hosting a design competition for new MARTA bus shelters and adopting a section of the Atlanta Beltline to developing an off-the-grid, co-working space for a youth environmental nonprofit. It’s great work that’s full of surprises and reward.

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