Allyson M. Zurawski, PE
Environment & Land Manager
LafargeHolcim US, A Member of Holcim Group
How is your job related to climate and/or sustainability?
LafargeHolcim US is one of the world’s largest producers of cement and concrete, resulting in huge impacts to the environment. Sounds counterintuitive to climate and sustainability, right? Well, the company as a whole is working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by using alternative fuels and renewable energy sources, and has joined The Climate Pledge, committing to net zero carbon emissions across our businesses by transitioning towards low-carbon construction. On a smaller scale, I have been working directly with renewable energy developers to install solar fields at some of our old, exhausted quarries. These solar fields provide a source of renewable energy, help offset the energy used by our local industrial facilities, and contribute to LafargeHolcim US’ sustainability initiatives.
What training was particularly important to enabling your work?
My first job out a college was as an engineering consultant for a small consulting firm where I managed projects for different companies/industrial facilities and coordinated with regulatory agencies on permitting issues. Now, I work for a huge corporation where I am the only environmental manager responsible for the permitting and environmental compliance at 5 to 10 different facilities. Having that small company training enabled me to develop the skills to work independently, and with a sense of confidence, at LafargeHolcim US.
What advice do you have for people looking for careers in climate and/or sustainability?
My favorite thing to say when I see trash on the ground is “job security”. Although I say this jokingly, there is some truth to this statement. With a career in climate and/or sustainability, you are never going to be short of work. As the world aims to “go green” and becomes more environmentally conscious, careers in climate and/or sustainability will always be available and can mean many different things. Whether you are in an industrial setting trying to minimize a company’s impacts on the environment or building wind turbines, careers related to climate and/or sustainability are diverse and dynamic.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Get as much experience as you can during college…and ask a lot of questions. I had several internships during each summer of college including undergraduate research experiences and an internship at an industrial facility. All were extremely valuable and helped me determine my path forward after college (i.e., pursue a master’s degree or jump directly into the “real world”). Looking back, I think it would have been beneficial to gain experience with a state or federal regulatory agency as well, to better understand how government agencies operate.