Hello, my name is Lexie Bright, I’m a 23-year-old recent graduate from Western Washington University. I majored in Energy Policy and Management with a minor in Economics. I’m currently a Technical Services Intern with the Energy Management and Technical Services team at McKinstry based in Seattle, WA.
I was raised in the beautiful foothills of Issaquah, WA. Growing up, I had no awareness of conservation, where my water came from, what electricity was or why it mattered to know. As I became more educated about Climate Change and the reality of how our modern lives are made possible through exploiting the Earth, I couldn’t believe it. I began focusing on how I could educate and influence as many people as possible about environmental realities, hoping to inform and even convert them into environmental activists.
However, as I grow and learn I’m beginning to realize that it is a privilege to be concerned with the environment, and my conception of Climate Change lacks a key understanding. I grew up in a White family where my basic needs were met, I was safe, and I was lucky enough to have time to study subjects that interested me. These privileges are not the reality for many people in marginalized or disadvantaged communities, even though these communities are often the hardest hit by Climate Change. How can I expect people to attend a speech on climate activism or to spend extra money on local and organic foods when they are struggling to meet their basic needs?
Environmentalism to me represents acknowledging that we are all connected. It means trying to understand different perspectives, having empathy, and taking action. I believe we must find a way to increase access to and knowledge of technological advancements that propel us toward a zero-carbon future. What good does it do if only the wealthy are able to afford electric vehicles and solar panels while the majority is just barely getting by? If we want to have hope for the future of humankind, the question is not “how can we make this accessible?”, but rather, “how can we make this accessible for everyone?”. If we work to respect and understand one another better, I believe that our relationship with the planet will reflect these changes and prosper as a result.
I’m fascinated by several topics; however, my interest in energy systems has remained a constant. I love learning about how electricity is produced, how it is transported, how our lives depend on it, and how to conserve it. It is essential for energy conservation technology to be accessible for all regardless of privilege. The more people able to afford high R-value insulation, for example, the less overall energy needed to heat and cool homes. Including more people in this dialogue by increasing access will utilize efficiency and its ability to dramatically lighten our footprint as a human race. I’m seeking a deeper understanding of how we can quickly move toward a net-zero future. I’d also like to learn more about how the built environment can interact with its climate, terrain, and electrical grid with more reciprocity, such as acting as a battery for excess renewable energy or allowing rain to pass through structures into groundwater. I find value in sharing this knowledge with my community. That brings me to why I’m here, sitting in my home office due to COVID-19, typing this blog on a laptop shipped to me by McKinstry. McKinstry is involved in the exact work that I’m interested in.
I feel incredibly lucky to have encountered a company that treats their employees with the utmost respect. This company has a genuine mission to build a thriving planet for all. Few corporations have a culture like McKinstry’s. I’m pleased to know that “people first” is a core, fundamental value at McKinstry, along with eliminating waste within the built environment. In my first four weeks here, I can tell this is a mantra that the company not only preaches but practices daily. After listening to the CEO and other top executives welcome us interns, I’m excited to see what it feels like to be a member of the McKinstry family over the course of this summer. Great people and energy are in the air, and I’m very thankful to be a part of it.