Erika works in New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) as the Sustainability Section Chief for the Bureau of Engineering, Design & Construction. NYC DEP is the largest combined water/wastewater agency in the United States, and Erika’s role is to incorporate sustainability into all of the department’s capital projects. She started working for NYC DEP in 2015. Prior to her current role, Erika worked in Pennsylvania as an environmental consultant. She has a degree in Environmental Science from Franklin & Marshall College.
We had an opportunity to connect with Erika to learn more about her work, and how she puts her Envision Sustainability Professional credential to good use.
Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI): What drew you to your field of work?
Erika Jozwiak (EJ): Water and wastewater are critical services to everyone. The opportunity to work in this high-impact sector to incorporate the triple bottom line was, and continues to be, really exciting to me. I love the opportunities and challenges that each unique project brings. Working for the city is great because NYC is making big strides towards City-wide sustainability and it’s incredible to be a part of the solution.
ISI: What has been your biggest career challenge?
EJ: My previous company was 5 people total. Making the transition from a small company to an agency with 6,000 people serving a population of 8 million (and growing) was a major and exciting shift!
ISI: What has been your proudest career moment?
EJ: The example I’d like to use is less of a moment, and more of an observation. Sustainability has become a major driver for NYC DEP’s work. NYC DEP has always invested in the long-term sustainability of our critical infrastructure and has taken this commitment a step further. Now, we analyze greenhouse gas emissions, and consider climate resiliency, waste reduction, and material selection among other aspects. It has been a true honor to be a part of this shift towards a greater commitment to sustainability.
On a personal level, I also had the honor of representing NYC DEP at the International Conference for Sustainable Infrastructurein Shenzhen, China where we showcased our sustainability program’s approach and impact. The presentation received an award, and the whole experience was incredible.
ISI: How did you learn about Envision?
EJ: When I started at NYC DEP in 2015, the agency had begun to incorporate Envision analysis into our capital projects. As I joined the team I learned of its value and have since worked to expand the use and implementation of Envision.
ISI: Why did you decide to pursue an Envision credential?
EJ: The perspective Envision offers to infrastructure projects are unique in the sustainability field and fits well with our water/wastewater work. I pursued the credential to make sure I was an expert in applying Envision to projects and was able to best take advantage of the opportunities the system provides.
ISI: How are you using Envision?
EJ: NYC DEP uses Envision as a tool on all of our capital projects to ensure opportunities to incorporate the triple bottom line are pursued, whether or not the project goes through full third-party verification. This process takes place in the early design phase to maximize the impact. Additionally, using Envision helps the agency meet certain regulatory criteria for third-party sustainability rating systems, and is a good fit for our industrial projects.
ISI: Can you share some highlights from an Envision project?
EJ: NYC DEP’s Bowery Bay Electrical Upgrade project recently became the first electrical project to receive recognition for sustainability from ISI. The project earned Envision Silver and the agency is so proud of the team for the work they performed to attain this achievement!
ISI: We’d like readers to get to know you outside of work a bit better. Could you share with us some of your favorite hobbies and interests?
EJ: I love to hike, bike, and volunteer in my neighborhood.
ISI: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
EJ: Maybe it’s not a ‘surprise’ given my line of work, but I’m extremely interested in how different countries manage waste – it’s something I genuinely look forward to learning about when I travel to new places.