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Fourteen people making Orlando a better place 

People we love

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
  • Photo by Rob Bartlett

Chris Castro

Sustainability Director, City of Orlando

Growing up on a palm tree farm in Miami, Chris Castro quickly developed an appreciation for the natural world. His passion for the environment followed him throughout every part of his life, from being a surfer chasing waves along the coast to a college student looking to make a difference. It even led him to co-found the international nonprofit IDEAS for Us, a United Nations-accredited organization that creates global environmental solutions and works to provide local action groups with guidance and mentorship.

Now, as the director of sustainability for the city of Orlando, Castro is helping to ensure that the City Beautiful stays that way. He works with Mayor Buddy Dyer to coordinate the city's climate and energy policies.

"I think that Orlando is primed to essentially be a hub for clean energy innovation," he says. "Orlando is unprecedented in its opportunity: It has all of the pieces of the puzzle."

In addition to his work in city government, he also co-founded the Florida Green Chamber of Commerce, the clean energy consulting firm Citizen Energy, and Fleet Farming, an urban farming program turning front lawns into crop-producing "farmlettes" across the city.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
  • Photo by Rob Bartlett

For Castro, whether it's getting down and dirty in potting soil or drafting new energy initiatives, work and play seem to go hand-in-hand. He works over 50 hours a week on his various environmental projects, but he says all the effort only drives his passion.

"I think it's important to find that alignment, that grit, and the combination of passion, patience and persistence," he says.

Orlando was the only place he could realize that passion. Here, he says, we can create a "smart city," a combination of sustainability and tech that will lead to a safer, more environmentally friendly community. To Castro, Orlando is a visionary city, a hub for art, food and culture that will pioneer a more efficient future for us all.

"We have the ability to make the world what we want, a better place and a more sustainable future," he says. "Not just here in Orlando, but around the world."

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