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Ask the Expert: WorldGBC's first female chair Lisa Bate talks about the top issues facing the global green building industry and the benefits of gender parity

The Canada Green Building Council is pleased to congratulate Lisa Bate, B+H Architects’ Regional Managing Principal, North America, and past chair of CaGBC’s board of directors, on her appointment as the first-ever female chair of the World Green Building Council.

Previously having served as vice-chair and treasurer for the WorldGBC, the 2016 Women in Sustainability Leadership Award winner is a passionate ambassador for sustainable design and has played a leading role in advancing the green building movement both in Canada and globally. She has helmed some of the most innovative projects across North America and Asia, including Mohawk College’s Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation, the second project in Canada and the first institutional building to receive a Zero Carbon Building – Design certification under CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building Standard.

We spoke with Lisa about how her new role fits with her advocacy for greater sustainability and diversity in the building sector, and about some of the key green building trends and success stories she is watching over the upcoming year.

1. Tell us briefly about yourself and how you how you came to work on sustainable/green building projects and with WorldGBC.

If you were to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was a child, ironically, it aligns with where I am today. I equally wanted to be either a psychiatrist or an interior designer. A child of a musician/teacher and an obstetrician and gynecologist, I’ve worn many different hats over the years – including a couple of summers walking throughout the City of Markham health-checking all street trees! My career path can be described as anything but linear; for example, I started my family later in life while owning my own architectural practice before subsequently merging it with B+H. I then relocated my husband and two youngest children (still in high school) to Shanghai in 2012 to become B+H’s Managing Principal, China and EVP, Asia, where I supported strategic growth in Asia before relocating back to Toronto in 2016. However, it was this path that shaped my passion for environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable design, in addition to being a voice of change for gender parity within the industry.

In my current role as B+H’s Regional Managing Principal, North America, overseeing our Canadian and American offices, I am committed to being the firm’s global ambassador for sustainable design. Throughout my career, I have built up project management experience spanning across Canada to China, the U.S., the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and India, working on some of the most innovative and high-performance projects in the world. My strengths are in optimizing design solutions to help our clients build and develop their people, culture, and business portfolios, and I have a honed focus on ROI and Return on Human Capital (ROHC) to ensure the best design and technical performance.

My leadership and governance experience – as Past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canada Green Building Council, Past President of the Ontario Association of Architects in Canada, Past Member of the Mainland China Urban Land Institute’s Shanghai Management Committee, and B+H’s past representative to the United Nations Environmental Protection – Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative (UNEP-SBCI) – has informed my global perspective and deep knowledge of international best practices, and corporate organizational culture development.

Current and past projects I’ve worked on include: the CaGBC Zero Carbon/Energy design certified Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation at Mohawk College (Hamilton); Humber College’s Buildings N, Nx and H deep energy retrofits with Building Nx registered to be certified to the Passive House building standard (Toronto); Columbia Asia’s Wuxi New Community Hospital (China); Inter Ikea Shopping Centre (Wuhan, China); AstraZeneca Shanghai Phase III (Pudong, China); the LEED Gold certified (pending Platinum EB:O&M) Markham Aquatics Centre, and 17 other sports venues for the 2015 Toronto Pan Am/Parapan Am Games – including another aquatics centre, a track and field stadium, a soccer and Canadian football facility, one velodrome, and various other renovated facilities; the LEED Silver Bell Canada Creekbank's Phase 3 (Mississauga); the LEED Gold Ottawa Convention Centre Redevelopment; the LEED Silver Markham Stouffville Hospital Redevelopment; and the Bridgetown Carlisle Bay Development Master Plan (Barbados).

In my new role as Chair of the WorldGBC Board of Directors, I am committed to advancing the WolrdGBC’s mission of empowering our communities to drive change and creating green buildings for everyone, everywhere – enabling people to thrive both today and tomorrow.

2. What would you say are the top issues on the global green building agenda for the rest of the year and into 2019?

There is a global awareness amongst almost all countries and continents to implement policy to meet 2030 and 2050 carbon reduction targets. Crucial to achieving this goal is a holistic approach to the design and development of our buildings, communities and cities. When we maximize the inherent benefits of a site’s natural context, providing opportunities to harness and support renewable resources, we can educate and inform operators and users on the responsible operations of our built environments through data and metrics.

In addition to continuing to innovate through design and construction practices, there is an increasing focus on rating and certification tools to deliver low carbon (energy, waste and water), net zero or net positive carbon, and regenerative buildings. These new and advanced tools offer us a full view of the entire lifecycle of a building and provide important data points on its users. Building monitoring allows for predicting and disclosing operational consumptive costs (both in dollars and in GHG emissions), measuring indoor air quality levels as they affect the health and well-being of occupants, regulating temperature and humidity, and the education of occupants to achieve a truly sustainable “green” building – a living lab.

Monitoring building and occupant performance now sits alongside the long-standing financial and real estate value comparators and operations analytics. Predictive tools that offer data comparisons from design, through occupancy and operation are gaining traction globally.

At B+H, we use Building Information Modelling (BIM) to support our Integrated Design Process and collect information about a building as it is being designed and built, calculating energy loads as the design is changed, and allowing a mutual platform for all consultants. This helps us to create a living document which looks at a building over time, tracking the lifecycle and components of the building.

For example, by analyzing data that helps us understand the innate energy flows of the unique situation of the building project site, designers are able to tap into the most immediate sources of “free energy.” In addition to understanding the external energy flow of the building, sustainable designers must gather data that will help us understand how energy is moved around within the building. Every building is unique, and the way energy flows is partly determined by what the building is used for. Air and water and people move around in a hospital in a radically different way than in a school, for example. Coming to terms with the differences – and hence the opportunities – of various building types makes for another layer of information to mine for optimizing energy flows and building performance.

Once the project is constructed, the true life of the building begins. Monitoring this emergent life and verifying its performance is the ultimate layer of information that sustainable designers must understand. Buildings and building systems that manage this layer of information well offer us the greatest opportunity for optimized performance. Finally, all the knowledge that formulated the design is now empirical and can be readily measured, tested and analyzed.

The feedback and information can now help users to understand and modify their behaviour towards more sustainable practices, which is the ultimate goal. Buildings that measure and return feedback to allow users to see the results of their behaviour, and how their consumption compares to others, help to create a culture of sustainability.

Data not Diva

Building and occupant comfort, satisfaction and frankly, measurable, verifiable performance outcomes of both the “bricks and mortar” and the “human capital” are current drivers in sustainability. No longer do buildings get to be Divas, they have to be Smart Buildings and Data Collectors. From data informing the design to lifecycle monitoring, collecting, possibly disclosing, calibrating and recalibrating infrastructure and systems operations, they have to be both smart and resilient. Led equally by leaders in the commercial development world and the more socially focused health and education sectors, buildings and their occupants as well as portfolios of buildings and their occupants are being monitored, measured and analyzed for highest ROI as machines for working, living, learning, playing, healing, buying and the list goes on.

There are now global benchmarking tools and databases where there is collected, parsed and shared data allowing institutions and investors alike to assess where they sit in the scale of meeting sustainable development goals, their own or comparatively on a global scale. The ability to make evidence-based design decisions is what is going to drive future innovation in our fight to limit climate change. Any technology that enables informative, accurate and reliable access to information is going to help drive energy and health performance in the future.

Sustainability has broadened from predominantly an environmental definition to include social and governance (ESG) objectives. This has helped accelerate the focus on users and on business practices giving rise to the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Both Smart Buildings and Artificial Intelligence seek to predict or replace actions that are repetitive and predictable, so the agitator or the "unpredictability" of it, is more-so the human element even as our data is collected. One person’s “too warm” is another person’s “too cold.” The ROI of a building is no longer relevant when you look at the ROHC.

3. What are some key green building success stories you have seen globally, and how can Canada’s industry best learn from and incorporate these?

From the reaction of the WorldGBC attendees at the CaGBC Building Lasting Change 2018 Conference in Toronto in June, I think one of our biggest green building success stories is right here in Canada, earning a Zero Carbon Building – Design certification under CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building Program. Mohawk College’s Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation, designed by McCallumSather and B+H and located in Hamilton will be one of the first net zero institutional buildings to be complete and operational this September under the CaGBC’s two-year Zero Carbon Building Standard Pilot Project. The 92,000 sq. ft. facility for engineering learning and sustainable performance will perform to a net zero waste, water and energy target, generating all energy consumption via on-site renewables. The project is one of our industry’s best case studies in how to navigate the challenges of net zero and zero carbon construction within an accelerated project schedule through a unique owner/consultant solutions-based collaboration.

The building itself will be a teaching tool for students. Its responsive design provides continuous performance feedback and allows users to monitor the energy they are consuming in real time. Energy consumption is no longer abstract, which establishes a culture of awareness. Engineering and trade students will engage with the net zero lab and renewable energy lab and will learn how to operate the building. They will be able to monitor the building’s energy usage via an app, a website, and other data measurement tools. The project underscores that the act of designing and building sustainable facilities is only part of the equation. The strategic role designers play in optimizing how these buildings are used and operated is exponential once they are built.

4. You are WorldGBC’s first female chair – what are your thoughts on the state of diversity in the green building industry, both in Canada and globally?

As an advocate for gender parity and diversity both within the field of architecture and in the green building industry, I am committed to fostering the next generation of women at B+H and through my professional networks and associations. I’m a firm believer that diversity increases innovation, productivity, and profitability, and I strive to ensure that diverse points of view, at all levels, are integrated into project teams at B+H to maintain what I like to call an “architecture of inclusiveness.”

I challenge and encourage the women I work with to think boldly, push boundaries, and make their perspectives heard. I think it’s incredibly important as a woman in my position to make the time to mentor other women to help guide their career and develop their talents. I never had a female mentor as I was building my career, so I hope to be a role model for tomorrow’s green leaders.

Where I have been most successful is in my ability to push myself outside of my comfort zone – not an easy task in what is considered a male-dominated field at management levels – and that is where I like to start whenever I am mentoring someone. It’s only when you step outside your comfort zone that you are able to seize the opportunities you would have otherwise missed.

In my new role as Chair I hope to inspire tomorrow’s women leaders to be bold, take chances and recognize that there is a seat at the table for them. The data shows us that diversity in leadership is positively linked to performance, workplace culture, thought leadership, good governance, brand, and professional development. It’s up to us to continue to that voice of change in the industry and make inclusiveness a top priority in our industries.

5. What are your priorities / what opportunities do you hope to tackle in your new role?

In my new role as Chair I hope to build on and optimize governance practices the Board has spent much of the past two years addressing at the WorldGBC. I will achieve this by driving robust meaningful board meetings and retreats to create effective, influential three-year strategic plans, annual business plans and, equally importantly, support the CEO to ensure the plans are put into action. My experience in optimizing governance practices is evidenced by my in-depth experience at CaGBC, my elected role on my own company Board and my post-graduate Institute of Corporate Directors Directorship (ICD.D) education and accreditation at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business.

Furthermore, I plan to leverage existing connections and pursue new relationships with foundations and corporate leaders to raise money from multinational sources to help create new sources of funding for the organization, the Corporate Advisory Board, our Regional Networks, and to fund our existing campaigns, events, and projects – such as Advancing Net Zero, Better Places for People and other initiatives to come.

I will also continue to supply data and resources on WorldGBC R&D projects such as has occurred with the Healthy & Productive Workplaces and Advancing Net Zero initiatives that I support with data from my company’s offices and client projects across B+H’s nine global studios.

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Also in this issue:
Green Building Programs
Join the new CaGBC ZCB Accelerator Program by October 15 and make the switch to zero carbon
Ask the Expert: WorldGBC's first female chair Lisa Bate talks about the top issues facing the global green building industry and the benefits of gender parity
LEED Spotlight: SAQ's Saint-Apollinaire store is its first v4 certification and 35th LEED certified project
Showcase your LEED project by sharing your photos with CaGBC
LEED certified Projects – June 2018
Member News and Updates
National Media Partner news from REMI Network
New Members – June 2018
CaGBC's summer education sale extended to August 31 – save up to 25 per cent on On Demand courses & bundles
Everything you need to know about the LEED Strategic Practices (LSP) Program – limited spots available for Fall 2018 delivery
This month's featured On Demand courses focus on sustainability in commercial real estate
Course Calendar – August/September 2018
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