Episode #
7
Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Veni Mittal: Establishing an EcoDistrict, Being a Good Neighbor

In this Episode
Veni Mittal
she/her
Former Energy Audits & Assessment Coordinator
Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh
Matt Scott
he/him
Manager, Storytelling & Engagement
“Just don’t doubt yourself. Even if you have to explore multiple areas, just explore, don’t think that you are wasting your time. It’s not wasting your time. It’s about exploring your skill set, exploring your interest, and you never know where you’ll land eventually.”
In this Episode
Veni Mittal
she/her
Former Energy Audits & Assessment Coordinator
Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh
Matt Scott
he/him
Manager, Storytelling & Engagement

Veni’s Story

In 2019, Pittsburgh’s Etna borough was named the world’s first certified EcoDistrict community. Etna is also a special place for Veni Mittal who is the former energy audits associate at Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh. Veni has spent countless hours volunteering in Etna, supporting community-driven sustainability projects, and conducting energy audits. Her work has empowered Etna residents to be more energy-efficient while also saving money on their energy bills. For Veni, encouraging a more sustainable lifestyle is about more than a climate solution; it is building community power, caring for the well-being of people. Veni came to Pittsburgh from India, and despite her background in environmental engineering she never dreamed that she would find a community like Etna. The heart of Veni’s motivation to address climate change comes from the love and respect that people showed her at Etna, which helped Veni realize what a community could be and accomplish together, to feel a sense of belonging. 

Discussion Questions

One of the most important things you can do when it comes to climate change is talk about it.

  • An EcoDistrict is a community that encourages social justice and community-based climate solutions. What makes a strong community? Etna EcoDistrict residents share similar values and priorities for protecting the environment. How can we work with people in our communities who may share different values or perspectives, who may not want to be part of climate change solutions?

  • Through her work at Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, Veni has helped people by educating them about energy audits, energy efficiency, and how to use natural resources more sustainably. The efforts at Etna have helped residents save money on their energy bills, learn how to grow food, harvest rainwater, and more. What is the importance of educating community members on how to live a more sustainable, climate-friendly lifestyle? What are ideas that you have for how to invite people in your community to learn more about climate change and solutions?

  • Etna was certified as the world’s first EcoDistrict community in the world, and it was achieved by everyday people who wanted to make a difference and have better lives. If you could design your ideal community in the future, what would it entail, what would it look like, and who would be part of it?

  • As a professional in a green career, Veni shares that sometimes it can feel intimidating to speak up when you are in a room full of people, but that it is important to challenge and encourage yourself with affirmations like, “You can do this.” Are there times when you feel intimidated to speak up, even when you feel strongly that you have something to contribute? How can you challenge yourself to speak up during times like this?

Learn More

Learn about the solutions in this story.

Explore Climate Solutions 101, the world's first major educational effort focused solely on solutions. This video series combines Project Drawdown’s trusted resources with the expertise of inspiring voices from around the world: drawdown.org/climate-solutions-101.

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