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Hidden Gems: Meet Erin McDannald of Environments and Lighting Environments

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin McDannald. 

Hi Erin, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I attended the University of Wisconsin where I received my interior design degree. However, when I graduated, I realized that path didn’t quite fit me, so I pivoted more to the business side of the industry. 

For many years, I worked with architecture and interior design firms across the country to sell lighting solutions. Throughout this journey, I became passionate about learning how to communicate with electronics and lighting and tailor them to any circumstance and environment. I eventually realized that once you can do that, you can apply it to other aspects of design. 

The pandemic caused a widespread disconnect among classrooms and businesses who were suddenly working from home for the first time. This brought about the need to connect to coworkers and schoolmates as seamlessly as if they were sitting right next to them, for the sake of both productivity and happiness. This, coupled with the experiences with my daughter, whose illness left her isolated from her friends and classmates, inspired the creation of Environments. 

With Environments, I’ve made it my mission to create healthy and human-centric spaces that operate with intuitive compassion to keep people well, and I’m excited about the potential next-gen technology can offer to achieve that. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career is being a female leader in a male-dominated industry – a struggle that far too many have to face. When I first began my career in the lighting industry, I was only one of a few female salespeople in the DMV area. I ultimately became one of, if not the first, women CEOs in the field. 

I think back to a time at industry conferences where there were very few women represented. Fast forward a few years to when there were women in attendance, but would constantly walk behind their male counterparts. I look forward to the day when women are fully front and center at these events. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Environments was founded in June 2020 in response to the pandemic and the increasing need for customizable, human-centric, and healthy office systems. Environments’ parent company, Lighting Environments, has been a leader in the lighting industry for nearly 50 years, serving DC, Maryland and Virginia. The two companies work seamlessly together to provide the end-user with an amazing digital experience that focuses on health, wellness, communication, and building controls. 

Using intelligent internet of things (IoT) endpoints, Environments offers a powerful yet simple interface for complete access and control over your business environment’s features and assets. When a client wants to reach the next level and expand beyond the digital twin, Environments recreates the workspace in the metaverse allowing users to not only see what’s happening in their offices but communicate with those there or working from home.

This fall, we launched Elevated Environments, which originated from a desire to build healthy spaces that can improve both our work and personal lives. It creates a simple way to access the information that our office sensors generate and use that data to the absolute best of our ability to ensure that employees are healthy and happy. 

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
My father was an architect, which sparked my interest in the architecture and design space from an early age. He was a creative and inventive person, qualities that I admired and that he luckily passed along to me. 

Growing up, I was never a big fan of the structures of school, but my inquisitive nature led me to seek knowledge all around me. This made me realize that the world is small enough that anyone can make an impact as long as you ask questions and you’re not afraid to break the mold. 

I’ve always had a “sky’s the limit” mentality, which helped me when I was faced with the possibility of starting my own business – something that I never expected to do, but am so happy I was open to the possibility! 


  • If you’re going to add a technology layer to your space, you should plan to spend between $3 – $5 per square foot.

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