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Meet Samantha Varela of SEQUIL Systems in Delray Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Varela.

Samantha, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was part of the first graduating class of Miami-Dade County’s first “green” school (as many know it as). TERRA Environmental Research Institute is a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified building at the GOLD level. I’ll talk more about LEED later. TERRA was the first school to achieve this certification and implemented it into its curriculum. I was part of the Environmental Research & Field Studies magnet program which is where my interest was first peaked.

I later attended the University of Florida (UF) and found a new major “Sustainability and the Built Environment” under the college of Design Planning and Construction. That is where my passion for architecture and sustainability collided.

My junior year, I interned at Miami-Dade County’s Office of Resilience. During my tenure at the Office of Resilience, I was exposed to many issues this small office is tasked with. Issues such as: sea level rise, king tides, repetitive loss homes due to inundation, new “green” policies, public awareness… the list goes on. I was invited to participate in a Design team for the Southeast FL Climate Compact Charrette to help solve some of these issues. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the multidisciplinary teams.

After that, I graduated from UF and began working at SEQUIL Systems as a LEED Consultant out of Delray Beach, FL.

Has it been a smooth road?
Job hunting was difficult since I was not a licensed architect and did not have years of experience for a consulting job. To date, there are approximately 130 others who graduated in the same program from UF. During interviews, I had to constantly explain my major and prove my worth. It was a nice challenge for me as an emerging professional to learn how to market myself.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the SEQUIL Systems story. Tell us more about it.
At SEQUIL, I am a Sustainability Consultant. This role has given me the ability to work on many green building rating systems like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

LEED was started in the 90s by the U.S. Green Building Council with a mission to promote sustainability-focused practices in the building industry. It is a green building certification program that recognizes best in class building strategies and practices. In order to achieve the certification projects, pursue credits that earn points and meet prerequisites.

Some of the other green building rating systems I work on focus on wellness and health of the building occupants while others focus more on energy efficiency.

Outside of work, I serve on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) South FL Chapter. As the Emerging Professionals Chair, I create networking opportunities between students and green building professionals. In this role, I have also had the opportunity to host events such as LEED tours. I have made connections with others working on sustainability in the automobile industry, corporate sustainability, real estate, and many more.

In addition to USGBC, I serve on the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Palm Beach Center on the Environment (COTE) Committee. We focus on local climate change issues using the best resource we have…Architects! Our most recent event was a workshop focused on resilience where we found innovative climate change solutions for problem areas in Palm Beach County.

Do you feel like there are certain traits that increase the likelihood of success?
My perseverance, positive attitude, and resourcefulness have helped me advance my career. My interpersonal skills have helped me connect with people and expand my knowledge. My belief that “people do not care about what you know until they know how much you care” has pushed me thus far in my career in sustainability.

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