Joe Karten, a Cal Poly construction management graduate, was recently given an award and a cash prize for his research on the construction of sustainable buildings in foreign countries.

According to a press release, Karten was awarded the Victor L. Regnier Traveling Fellowship and $20,000 for his proposal to research sustainable buildings in foreign countries and create a Web-based database of case studies of the buildings he visits.

“This being a one-in-the-nation award, I thought it was a total shot in the dark. Since I was working as a carpenter, I had evenings to myself, so I put together my dream study trip, got the recommendation letters I needed, and sent the application off,” Karten said. “When Victor Regnier called me a week after the deadline, I thought he was calling personally to confirm that he received my application – which I thought was a little strange. When he told me I won it, I was ridiculously excited. I had been saving up to look for work in Spain and start an international career, and this provided that opportunity for me. So it really is a dream come true.”

The American Council of Construction Education and The Regnier Family Foundation are sponsoring Karten’s research. The money will be used to pay for his traveling and living expenses during his nine-month independent study program.

“I will meet with the architects, builders and planners that worked on the projects and write case studies about them,” he said. “I will then compile the case studies into a database which will be located at Although it isn’t up yet, a starter page should be up and running by the end of June.”

He said the goal for this project is to increase awareness of cost-effective methods being used to reduce energy and water-use in buildings, so that more developers decide to go green.

Karten is currently residing in Monterrey, Mexico and will travel to project sites in Baja California as well as Puebla and Mexico City. After three months in Mexico, he will meet up with architects, contractors and planners in Europe for the remainder of his trip where he will visit Spain, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Holland.

“The coolest thing about this fellowship is that it gives me the freedom to zero in on exactly what I want to pursue professionally: creating a more sustainable construction industry worldwide,” Karten said. “There is so much to learn from what is going on in different countries, as far as making the industry more environmentally sustainable, and having the chance to explore it firsthand is incredible.”

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