FED FACES

EPA's Van Gendt wants to stop waste at origins

Environmental Protection Agency scientist Saskia van Gendt looks at the connections between climate change and raw materials.
Environmental Protection Agency scientist Saskia van Gendt looks at the connections between climate change and raw materials. (Sam Kittner/)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Saskia van Gendt

Life Scientist, Environmental Protection Agency

Best known for: As a young scientist, van Gendt is leading innovative efforts to help foster green building construction and promote the design and development of reusable packaging to significantly reduce waste. Her work focuses on a new field that she calls "Climaterials" - the connection between climate change and materials.

Government service: Four years at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Biggest challenge: There is so much that can be done, van Gendt says. Each stage of the life cycle of a product from extraction of raw materials through disposal can release toxins, consume energy and release greenhouse gas emissions. Van Gendt says greener products are not only about the final product. The challenge is to identify and figure out how to make environmentally friendly improvements each step of the way.

Quote: "Within my office, I'm continually inspired by the innovative thinking being applied towards traditionally difficult environmental issues. Instead of just focusing on tail pipe solutions, we are working to prevent pollution before it happens. Environmental protection is evolving towards a biological model or a life cycle thinking approach where there is no waste."

- From the Partnership for Public Service

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