Meet the Common Current Team
Common Current founder and president, has advised the United Nations / the People's Republic of China (Shanghai Manual: Guide to Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century); Global Forum on Human Settlements (Shenzhen, China); Guangzhou Planning Agency (Nansha Ecocity sustainability master planning); the United States government (Eco-Industrial Park planning and Industrial Ecology primer); United Nations Center for Regional Development (Sustainability planning and management training for mayors from 12 Asian nations); the UNCRD/ Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs ("Tohoku Tsunami Region Green Reconstruction Master Planning"); the nation of South Korea ("New Cities Green Metrics"); The European Union ("Green and Connected Cities Initiative"); Eco-city Builders (International Ecocity Framework and Standards); the State of California ("Comprehensive Recycling Communities" and "Sustainable Community Plans"); major cities; and the world's largest corporations in development of policy, strategy, financing and critical operational capacities for 20+ years. Present and recent clients include the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in conjunction with the World Expo Bureau; the US Department of State; the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; a major mixed-use real estate development corporation; an educational sustainability non-profit; and global corporations.
Warren has appeared in media including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, CNBC, Forbes, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
The former Chief Strategy Officer of SustainLane, he devised, planned, designed and directed both the SustainLane US City Rankings and the SustainLane Government knowledge base for sustainability best practices in state and local governments. He also led consulting engagements with the State of California focused on green city performance metrics for a successful pilot program.
As Lead Strategist for Dimension Data/ Proxicom, Warren led executive-level strategy engagements for clients including General Electric and Chevron. His area of expertise included developing corporate knowledge management initiatives directly impacting corporate governance, supported by systems utilizing complex intellectual property information and data management. Warren previously served as editor-in-chief for Knowledge Management magazine. He has been a consultant with clients including the White House Office of Science and Technology, for which he helped plan an eco-industrial park; the US EPA Futures Group and the US Department of Energy. He authored A Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing, the first substantial work on the subject (Global Green USA, 1999) and he co-authored San Francisco's influential Sustainability Plan, which was adopted by the city in 1997. The section he co-authored ("Economy and Economic Development") was directly cited in San Francisco's 1999 and 2003 green building ordinances.
How Green is Your City?, which Warren authored, was published in 2007 by New Society Publishers, and he contributed sections to The Post Carbon Reader (University of California Press, 2010) and Growing Greener Cities: Urban Sustainability in the 21st Century published in 2008 by the University of Pennsylvania Press and the Wharton School of Business. Warren is on the Boards of The Climate Change Center and the Korea Green Foundation. He has an MFA from Naropa University and a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a Fellow with The Post Carbon Institute.
What People are Saying About Common Current:
"It's great to know that green cities leadership is right at our doorstep."
--Gene Schnair, Partner: Skidmore,
Owings + Merrill urban planners
"Warren Karlenzig of Common Current is a great resource for sustainable urbanization trends and solutions. He was a productive collaborator with the United Nations in the development of the Shanghai Manual on sustainable urban development, and serves as a valuable trainer in capacity building workshops. His considerable experience in indicators for sustainable cities can help ensure accountability in urban planning and projects. He is insightful, pragmatic and media savvy."
--Mohan Peck, Focal Point for Sustainable Cities
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
United Nations, New York
"(The Shanghai Manual on Sustainable Cities co-authored by Common Current's Warren Karlenzig) details the experience and practices of cities across the world in addressing common challenges and achieving harmonious development ... and is therefore of great theoretical and practical value."
-- Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng (at the publication's
"(The Shanghai Manual) is the most precious legacy of the 2010 Shanghai Expo."
-- Vicente Loscertales, Secretary
General, World Expo Bureau
"Common Current has its finger on the pulse of complex urban sustainability issues worldwide. Warren Karlenzig is able to both access and assess this rapidly evolving field with clarity and confidence. His analysis and recommendations for Ecocity Builders' International Ecocity Framework and Standards Initiative helped us quickly analyze the full range of options and opportunities available to us and enabled us to chart the best course forward."
Kirstin Miller, Executive Director, Ecocity Builders
"NRDC has chosen sustainable communities as one of its strategic priorities for the next five years. Karlenzig’s advice seems right on target as we further refine that agenda."
--F. Kaid Benfield, NRDC Smart Growth Director
"Warren is the creator and lead author of SustainLane's US City Rankings. I've been in the sustainability business for 15 or 20 years now. And these types of rankings have been tried dozens and dozens of times and this in my opinion is the best one in terms of its rigor and how much care they've given to apples-to-apples comparisons. A lot of that comes from Warren's commitment."
--Steve Nicholas, Vice President of Climate and
Institute for Sustainable
Communities; former Seattle
"How Green is Your City? is the first systematic report card measuring city quality of life combined with resource impacts....I believe the methodology will become international, and none too soon."
--Paul Hawken, author of Ecology of Commerce
and Blessed Unrest
"How Green is Your City? provides the first benchmark quantifying and qualifying management innovation and the performance of American cities as they seek to define what sustainability is."
--Hunter Lovins, Founder, Natural Capitalism, Inc.;
co-author of Natural Capitalism
"Warren is one of the country's leading experts on sustainable planning. He has been instrumental in helping the California Department of Conservation choose our recycling communities using sustainability criteria. I have found his work to be really helpful, thoughtful and thorough."
--Bridgett Luther, Director, California Dept. of Conservation
Allison Quaid (Senior Associate) has spent the last ten years greening the operations of more than 500 local governments, non-profits and businesses across the nation. Issue areas include transportation, waste reduction and recycling, energy efficiency and conservation, sustainable economic development, smart growth, green buildings and climate protection plans. Allison has a depth of experience facilitating public, private and non-governmental organizational partnerships which advance sustainability.
She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Communities. Most recently, Allison was a Project Manager for Flex Your Power, leading regional outreach efforts for energy efficiency and conservation in Southern California and the Central Valley. Prior to that, Allison was Project Director for Strategic Energy Innovations, assisting communities in the use of clean energy technologies while strengthening community relations. Allison co-led the Clean Air/Clean Energy Working Group of the San Joaquin Federal Interagency Task Force, which is composed of federal agencies, research and non-profit organizations striving to improve the air quality in California's Central Valley.
Allison spent four years working with local governments to advance their sustainability efforts, while employed as the Project Director of Communities 21 for ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. Allison wrote a manual for developing local sustainability plans, and piloted a process called the Sustainability Inventory with fifteen local governments.
Allison has consulted to the World Bank and USAID on international environmental projects. She is a LEED Accredited Professional and a board member of the International Sustainability Indicators Network. Allison is an Advisory Board member for the Business Council on Climate Change. Allison holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Rutgers University and Masters in Urban and Environmental Public Policy from Tufts University.
Kenneth Ott (Associate) is a sustainability metrics and trends researcher.
Originally a suburbanite, he learned about sustainability firsthand while working in Asia, seeing how people in other countries managed their far less abundant resources -- primarily fossil fuel energy but also metal, wood, food and so on.
Throughout the region -- in Japan, China, Thailand and Cambodia -- Ken discovered the joys and perils of bicycling and taking the ferry, bus and train as socially ordinary transportation options for the majority of the populace. Walking of course, and water transport, proved the most sustainable of all transport modes. Elephants were novel, though not scalable, mass transit options. These experiences coupled with travel in Europe and South America have provided insight into how the US should improve its historically wasteful management of energy, water and other key resources to "set a better example for other countries" and strengthen its own economy.
Upon returning stateside Ken set out to start a restaurant grease collection company to produce biodiesel. Instead, he joined Bay Area Biofuel, an existing startup of like-minded entrepreneurs. Later, he sold his last remaining car in 2006. (At one point, Ken owned three cars and a moped.) Additional sustainability work has included stints as a consultant to the California Department of Conservation, consulting for a large real estate developer; and, US city sustainability research, project management, and reporting on sustainability trends for SustainLane by working with the largest US city mayors and their staff. Current and past side projects include: selling organic ice cream at farmers markets and forageSF, blogging about urban planning and suburban sustainability retrofitting efforts, operating a cycle rickshaw business in downtown Oakland and organic farming.
Ken earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California at Berkeley. He has been a Board Member for Urban Releaf, an urban forestry research and tree planting organization based in Oakland, California, since 2008.
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