Communities and Sustainability, with Chris Castro

Mar 20, 2019


Chris is a sustainability and clean energy expert, eco-entrepreneur, and community organizer with a passion to create smart, resilient, and sustainable cities.

Chris is currently the Senior Advisor to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Director of Sustainability & Resilience, and Co-chair of Smart Cities for the City of Orlando. He is responsible for developing policies & programs to advance the sustainability, clean energy, & climate action goals of Mayor Dyer.

Chris is also known as the founder and president of IDEAS For Us, a global UN-accredited 501c3 nonprofit working to incubate and fund innovative solutions that advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In 2012, Chris started a clean-energy consulting firm called Citizen Energy, and in 2013, he co-created “Fleet Farming”, a renowned urban farming social enterprise that is redefining local food systems by building organic farms on homeowner lawns through neighborhoods and communities.

Chris currently sits on more than 10 nonprofit and academic boards, including the Florida Solar Energy Center, US Green Building Council of Florida, Project Greenschools, and Goodwill of Central Florida. He has held positions with University of Central Florida, Orange County Government, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Over the years, Chris has been internationally recognized for his efforts; including being named the 2018 Public Official of the Year by Governing, a ‘Champions of Change’ by President Barack Obama; the ‘Guru of Green’ by the Orlando Business Journal; the Grist 50 Fixer Award; Top 30 Under 30 sustainability professionals by GreenBiz, and formal recognition from President Bill Clinton, President Jimmy Carter, and Vice President Al Gore.

In December 2018, Chris was highlighted in the National Geographic documentary called “Paris to Pittsburgh”.

As a thought leader, Chris has spoken at more than 150+ conferences and events, including the United Nations Summits, Smart Cities Week DC, NASA Innovation Expo, Sustainatopia, TEDx Orlando, and more.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Chris discusses being awarded the “Public Official of the Year Award”, and why he is honored to be the first sustainability professional to receive the award
  • How Chris’s sustainability work involves improving the lives of people, public health and the environment, and overall prosperity
  • Why sustainability is important to the city of Orlando and its mayor, and why its rapid growth is a particular challenge
  • Why one of the most common challenges of cities across the country is sustainability and affordable housing
  • Which organizations Chris and the city of Orlando have been able to partner with to strengthen their efforts
  • Why Chris decided to get into community sustainability work, and what efforts he makes even outside his role with the city of Orlando
  • How Chris struggles to find a balance between the time he spends working and the time he is able to spend with his family
  • Why Chris’s relationship with and concern for his daughter helps drive him to do the work he does
  • Why sustainability is within the control of cities, despite a presidential administration that seems to be focused on other priorities
  • What advice Chris has to offer for anyone looking into focusing their career on community sustainability

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