Comfy Life

Profile: Lindsay Baker, President

Posted by Comfy N. Lovinit on May 20, 2016

Lindsay is our President, leading relationship building and serving as our chief evangelist for Comfy. Lindsay was a lead convener and author of the LEED green building rating systems, and has also worked on Google's real estate sustainability team. She did her PhD work in Building Science at UC Berkeley on human interaction with the built environment, and has published broadly on comfort and productivity throughout the green building community.

Little known fact: True to her last name, Lindsay is an amazing baker and can name at least 10 different types of French wheat flour while treating our team to some amazing Southern homestyle dishes.


Tell me about the path that led you to join the Comfy team.

I was very fortunate right out of college to get a job at the USGBC at the beginning of its fastest growth spurt [in 2004]. I was joining all these conversations with all of these experts from all over the world about all the different facets of what we wanted a green building to be. By the time I left, I had more of a management role, looking at the future of LEED, and I was primarily responsible for launching the LEED for Schools program.

LEED was the first thing that was able to manipulate the commercial [real estate] market in a big way. I apply a lot of those lessons about what worked with LEED into our work on Comfy today. It’s why we keep every perspective in mind when we approach clients, because everyone has a different reason to engage. Also, a lot of people shy away from complexity. LEED never did and they were extremely successful and [when we were developing Comfy] we never shied away from complexity either. We really believe that there is a lot that makes a building work well and it's important to get people talking.

[After graduate school] I was working in Google’s real estate group in Mountain View. Again, I had a really awesome job, which was basically to help improve the sustainability of Google’s buildings. They are really one of the most progressive building owners out there in terms of sustainability and health. They take these things very seriously and they’re really holistic about it. What I enjoyed most was quantifying and measuring all these aspects of indoor environmental quality that most people tend to only think of qualitatively—things like quality of light, acoustics, air quality, and thermal comfort.

It was typical that we would hear about some Googlers that were dissatisfied with something—not something that was technically against code, but something they found generally uncomfortable and distracting from their work—something that they didn’t think they had much control over, and it was so satisfying to go in and solve the problem for them.

"I didn’t even really get into Twitter until I was retweeted by Alyssa Milano..."


Facebook or Twitter? Discuss.

To be honest, I haven’t always been the biggest fan of technology! I didn’t even really get into Twitter until I was retweeted by Alyssa, complete. I use Feedly a lot to keep up with things in the world. What’s in my feed? GreenBiz, Greentech Media, Energy Manager Today, G Big Insight. I also have streams for fun stuff like 7x7, Pitchfork, and Hairpin, which isn’t always the most appropriate but that's neither here nor there.


Describe our office culture in 3 words.

Ha! I’m trying to think of evocative words, like how Beyoncé would describe it. I do think we're pretty collaborative, and I have to say, really friendly. Also, encouraging. And, if I can get one more, I would say inspired. It's been delightful for me to watch the company grow, because I think everyone truly believes in and is excited about what we’re doing to impact our industry. There’s a common jab at Silicon Valley, that everyone in tech feels like they’re "changing the world"...which is true...but you can tell that everyone here has a genuine connection to our mission. One of the most rewarding parts about starting a company has been watching a community form around an idea and work hard to bring the product and concept out into the world.


Where do think building technology is headed?

One thing I’m acutely aware of is that there seem to be fewer and fewer reasons for us to have to go to work...and by that I mean going to office buildings to do work. We’re coming upon a scenario where we can pretty much work wherever we feel like, and we usually feel like being in places that make us happy, healthy, and where we can connect with people.

So, I think what's going to happen is that we’re going to design spaces that are much more human-centered, and the buildings we already have are going to become much more pleasant environments. This is going to play a big role in determining where we spend resources, making buildings more dynamic and responsive to individual preferences. What that means for Comfy is that we will continuously work towards being that bridge between people and the buildings they’re in.

I’m also a big believer in biophilia, which is the concept that we’ve all evolved to be responsive to certain types of stimuli and environments. My favorite concept is that of prospect and refuge, which is basically the idea that because we evolved in savanna-like environments—where we were hunting and having to protect ourselves—we prefer places where we have a big expansive view, but our backs and heads are sort of sheltered. We like places where we can feel safe and still enjoy the view. We’re actually thinking of getting goldfish in the office, because the non-rhythmic stimuli in your peripheral vision helps your brain to stay relaxed, but active.


What actor would play you in a biopic?

Probably Lena Dunham, if she could pull it off. But she’d have to really pull it a lot. Take Lena Dunham, add about 10 years and remove all the angst, like in a sequel to Girls, probably called Women.

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