By Emily Andrews at AHA Engineers

Arriving at the USGBCMA Green Building Showcase, I had a sense of crossing a real threshold into a world of design and engineering that had previously inspired me, but I had not truly participated in. Entering the recently completed Northeastern Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, I understood how exemplary design and performance could make a building something special.

I’ve always been interested in the environment, and recently changed my path of study to mechanical engineering with a minor in sustainability engineering to reflect this. Growing up near Boston, I remembered how each time I went into the city with my father, he would point out with pride the buildings he had worked on with AHA Engineers, as well as others that were significant. I learned about the engineering innovations on new buildings in Boston and how environmentally friendly they were.

As an intern new to the field of sustainability, the opportunity to meet so many of the important people in this field was incredible, and walking around and looking at the buildings on display was inspiring. I’ve always been impressed with the innovative ways the industry has developed to conserve materials and reduce energy and water consumption. The display boards featured buildings with rooftop gardens, net-zero buildings, heat recovery, building reuse, and passive solar design.

The actual design teams were present, discussing innovations and upcoming projects with the confidence and experience of professionals taking the field of Architecture and Engineering to new levels. I had the opportunity to speak with many of the people who are responsible for pushing the green building industry forward, such as Mark Stafford from National Grid, Steve Burke from Consigli Construction, and Judy Nitsch from Nitsch Engineering. Everyone was friendly and eager to share ideas, and made a newcomer like myself feel welcome. The layout of tables and project information along with healthy food and beverages made for a party atmosphere until the speakers began.

The presentations by Elkus Manfredi and Lendlease were memorable as well. The idea of creating an entire smart city is revolutionary, and more within our grasp than I had previously known. I also appreciate Lendlease’s perspective on collaboration. I attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which places a large focus on collaboration within its project-based curriculum, and is something that has struck me as the difference between an average and award-winning building.

I’m incredibly grateful to my mentor at AHA, Dan Whittet, for the chance to attend this event, as well as my coworkers, Tim Spencer and Allison Gaiko, for their support and investment in my future career in sustainability. I am also grateful to Celis Brisbin and Emily Kingston, for their work to make my first Green Building Showcase memorable and meaningful. I can’t wait to come back next year.   

Emily Andrews

Sustainability Intern, AHA Engineers.

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