Jean Marie Moore, recently retired from construction management, is the co-founder of Anasa Yoga Studio in Oakland’s Laurel District, where she currently teaches as a certified yoga instructor and continues to grow through social justice and leadership trainings.
Jean Marie has a degree in architecture UC Berkeley Architecture and is LEED AP certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) in the green building industry. She is also a 2013 graduate of Oakland Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Oakland program. Jean Marie used her green building skills to assist in the design and certification of Anasa Yoga as Alameda County’s only green-certified yoga studio. She retired her construction management business in late 2015 after building K-12 schools for 17 years and now works fulltime at the studio.
What is the educational and career path that led to your current and past careers?
My career started in 1979 at Caltrans in San Diego. I entered Caltrans as an Account Clerk and shortly afterwards was introduced to a Junior Engineer rotation program that guided enlistees through each of the departments, including land surveying and construction. I was the first woman of color in many of those departments! As a State worker, it was simple to climb the ladder and advance my position every few years. But I didn’t have a college degree, and hit the glass ceiling in 1989.
I moved back to the Bay Area, newly married, to start school at Cal [UC Berkeley] and to start a new family. Soon I was juggling architecture school with a toddler, which was intense. I was a “re-entry student”, a decade older than my peers and instilled with a heavy work ethic by my Caltrans mentors. During my senior year at Cal I attended a seminar entitled “Alternative Careers in Architecture Day” and knew from that day that I would follow the path of construction management (CM). After graduating in 1994, I worked for EBALDC (East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation), a non-profit community development organization, and several CM corporations that managed K-12 school projects, which became my niche. In 2005 I left the corporate world and formed my own CM company, and worked as a subconsultant managing K-12 schools, until retiring in 2015.
About five years ago I started thinking about pursuing my passion for yoga when I retired. In 2011, I met two other women who shared the vision of opening a yoga studio and partnered with them to form Anasa Yoga. We worked on a business plan and searched for a location for two years while I continued working part time in CM. In 2015 I took the leap and shuttered the CM business to work fulltime at the studio. I am grateful to every person who inspired me in reaching the goal of creating and managing my dream job!
How did you become interested in applying an environmental aspect to your work?
In the early 2000’s, I worked for a construction management corporation that encouraged all employees to pursue LEED Accreditation. Green building was gaining popularity and they were motivated to stay competitive. I was fascinated by USGBC’s (US Green Building Council’s) guidelines with their clear and conscientious measures for designing, building, and living sustainably, and I committed to participating in this new “movement”. I became a LEED AP in 2004, and was further inspired by talks given at the USGBC Greenbuild Expos I attended. Most of my later career was in K-12 schools and they have their own green building standards that are similar to LEED.
So as a LEED AP, construction manager, and architecture grad with an interest in community engagement, I had always wanted to design a green community center in Oakland. I had a long-term vision of incorporating specific LEED elements into a real building and make it sustainable, functional, and beautiful at the same time. That vision finally came to fruition with Anasa Yoga.
Asana Yoga is the first green yoga studio in Alameda County. Could you talk a little bit about your yoga studio?
The decision to go green at the yoga studio was a component of our business plan from the beginning, and was driven by the fact that people of color and underserved communities suffer disproportionately from asthma and other environmental-related illnesses due to poor indoor and outdoor air quality. We were convinced that a green yoga studio would protect the environment, our teachers, and our students, especially the most vulnerable.
Construction at Anasa Yoga included a complete gut and remodel of an empty 2,500 square foot building. It was a great opportunity to incorporate as many green features as possible. We included bamboo floor materials, with bamboo being a rapidly renewable resource; low- and no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints; low-wattage LED dimmable lighting; low-flow sinks and toilets; a water filtration system to refill water bottles; R-31 ceiling and wall insulation; formaldehyde-free, reused, and reclaimed windows and furnishings; Energy Star kitchenette appliance and printers; exterior signage made from corn products; and a bike rack at the front entry. We also note the nearby AC Transit bus routes on our website flyers. Our paper products are made from recycled content. Our cleaning products are eco-friendly, we use only non-aerosol containers, and we sort all studio waste for recycling.
We also partner with other wellness-conscious local vendors and do business with local contractors to support the economy of our community. We reach out to other women-owned, minority-owned businesses as often as possible. That’s part of the social justice component of being green that I love.
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
I’m concerned about air quality on a local and global level. The Bay Area is gorgeous after the rain, but shortly after a few clear days we see pollutants linger in our skies and it seems to increase as traffic is increasing on our roadways. I’d like to see better awareness about airborne pollution that we experience from across the Pacific.
When I worked for K-12 facilities, our demo and construction work followed strict Hazmat regulations and was monitored. I’d like to see those standards followed globally. I recently watched a demo for a tenant improvement at a local business, and cringed at the thought of the amount of asbestos and lead that was handled without precaution and oversight while the workers and public were exposed.