Net-Zero Hero: August Martin, Jr.
I’m helping make Austin Net-Zero by: spreading the message of sustainability at home, at work, and in the community.
Austin is green and we all want to keep it that way! As a community, we’re committed to reaching the target of Net-Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which will ensure a safe, healthy, vibrant Austin for many years to come. Here’s the story of how one person can make a difference.
Meet August Martin, Jr., Project Manager for Integrated Planning Services at HNTB Corporation. He contributes to Austin's Net-Zero goal in several ways at home, work and in the community. August implemented several initiatives for HNTB, including collaborating with the Clean Air Force of Central Texas to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and he manages their gold member status as a Austin Green Business Leader. We spoke with August about his inspiration for taking action, the toughest challenges, and advice he has for others looking to live Net-Zero. Read more below.
What inspired you to take action?
I’m a New Orleans native. Growing up, my friends and I would walk to the French Quarter to hang out in Jackson Square, and we would pool our money to buy beignets at Café Du Monde. We’d also play and skip rocks along the Mississippi River which runs right behind our favorite beignet place. I was always struck by how dirty the water looked, and it seemed so ironic that one of the most beautiful cities in the world would have one of the dirtiest water bodies. Several years later, I took an environmental engineering course at Tulane University that focused on water quality management, and I’ve been hooked on environmental stewardship and sustainability ever since.
How did you do it?
At home, we’re avid recyclers. My wife and I talk to our kids regularly about the importance of recycling and reuse, and we discuss the harmful impacts to wildlife and the environment if certain materials are disposed of irresponsibly.
At work, I’m a sustainability advocate. I support my company’s sustainability efforts by collaborating with the Clean Air Force of Central Texas to reduce our company’s carbon footprint. I also manage and maintain our membership as a gold member of the City of Austin’s Green Business Leaders initiative. We have had several successful workplace initiatives to help our staff play an active part in making Austin more eco-friendly, such as: 1) Commuter surveys and challenges to inform employees of available transit options in an effort to reduce the number of daily driving trips to our downtown office. 2) Coordinating a sustainable mug campaign, where we gave employees a company coffee mug. 3) Completing a successful printing education campaign to reduce the amount of paper we use.
In the community, I’ve been actively involved in sustainability education and environmental literacy by serving as a board member of EcoRise Youth Innovations. Being a part of this amazing organization has given me the opportunity to effect positive environmental change through influencing students which not only has an immediate local impact, but it also has the potential for a global impact as students become green leaders.
What's been the toughest part?
To get people to care. Most people think that sustainable living practices are just a “nice to have.” Doing our individual part to positively affect the environment is now a necessity if we want to preserve the natural world for generations to come.
Have there been any unexpected benefits?
Two things stick out to me. First, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the positive impact that my work has on children (my own and the students I serve). Kids honestly want to make huge positive changes on the natural world, and it has been awesome and inspiring to see that in action. Second, the humility that comes with knowing that so much more has to be done to effect positive environmental change has been both challenging and rewarding. We have a long way to go, but I’m hopeful.
What advice do you have for others?
Think global, act local. Anyone (even one person) has the potential to make a difference. Small acts like telecommuting one day a week, taking shorter showers, or composting can have a significant impact on preserving the natural environment and reducing carbon emissions. Also, figure out the facts about climate change and sustainability for yourself. Don’t believe everything you see in the media. You’d be surprised at what you can learn from taking just a few minutes a day to stay informed about global activities and trends that impact our planet in positive and negative ways.
To learn more about Austin's Net-Zero Goal, learn more about the Community Climate Plan.
Share your Net-Zero contributions with us on Twitter or Facebook and use #NetZeroHero. If you know a Net-Zero Hero who should be recognized for their efforts, send your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org.