Deepa Sathiaram is running for the Sustainable Practice Leader: Engineer seat on the 2014 Board of Directors.
Please briefly describe how you, as an individual, have been aligned with the work of USGBC for the last three to five years.
Being a LEED Fellow and a subject expert in sustainability and green buildings in India, I have helped in instituting and applying sustainability practices and procedures not just in my own organization but more importantly in all my projects and in the community at large. For each of the green projects that my firm is working on currently, I direct my efforts towards inspiring and motivating clients and teams to adopt a holistic approach towards sustainability and achieve their LEED goals.
My efforts over the last 10 years has been to reach out to the rapidly growing construction industry in India and help create the awareness that sustainability and LEED are integral to this industry. This I believe will provide the base for a resource efficient and sustainable built environment in a relatively small, densely-populated country like ours, which is seeing exponential growth in its built environment.
I have presented about LEED and green buildings in over 150+ forums, seminars and conferences across India and addressed diverse audience profiles ranging from green forums such as the All-India Green Congress, ASHRAE seminars, Medical Association seminars, hospitality forums, building facility managers association, industrial expositions, women's forums, university symposiums and governmental meetings and in all cases have used the opportunity to propagate green and LEED among new audiences.
By serving on several technical committees for USGBC, Indian Green Building Council and other professional organizations, I have further helped in market transformation through green initiatives. I have been a technical member of USGBC’s Committee for the development of the LEED International ACPs. I am also a LEED International volunteer for LEED v4 and I am working currently on the LEED v4 Regional Priority credit selection process. I'm a member of a technical working panel for the National Building Code of India, EHS Department of the Dubai Ports and Free Zone Authorities, World Bank Group, ASHRAE and several other professional organizations. These efforts I believe have helped me propel LEED forward and help LEED become a reckoning force in India today.
Creating a prosperous and sustainable future is very critical especially for the future generations. In line with this, I have been focusing my efforts on sustainability education and awareness creation. I teach at E4U Academy a specialized academy that focuses on green education for architectural and engineering students. I am also a visiting faculty member at two local architectural and engineering colleges and have been teaching classes for the last eight years on various aspects of sustainability, green buildings and the LEED rating systems. To propel LEED forward as the preeminent global rating system for sustainable design, construction and operations, I have been trying to educate an increasing number of professionals in LEED and green buildings, which is the necessary foundation to have a lasting impact. Especially in India where other local green standards are coming up, I believe that my efforts in instituting LEED and sustainability within the Indian construction industry can go a long way in furthering USGBC's goals and strengthening LEED's presence in this region.
I have conceptualized and spearheaded for the last nine years a green schools initiative called the "Green-I Contest." The aim of the contest is to educate school students and instill environmental responsibility among the future citizens of India. The uniqueness of the contest is that every year the winning school gets a grant of US$ 15,000 to implement the various green ideas in their schools. The initiative has so far reached out to over 500,000 schools students educating them on various issues relating to sustainability. One of the key ways to propel green, sustainability and LEED forward is to educate the future generations in the years to come, I hope to reach out and educate over 2,000,000 school students on various aspects of sustainability including engaging in various green schools initiatives.
Why do you wish to serve on the USGBC Board of Directors?
I come from a country that will have probably one of the highest per capita resource needs in the next couple of decades. A good portion of the economic growth in this region is being fuelled by construction and infrastructure projects. However, unsustainable growth here will affect the entire planet. To ensure a sustainable future, it is more urgent today than ever before to address sustainability in the built environment. I believe USGBC provides an extremely well thought out framework to effectively and efficiently address sustainability in buildings and communities. I understand very well the intricacies and challenges of going green and firmly believe that my knowledge and in-depth understanding of sustainability priorities and concerns of this region will help promote sustainable cities and communities. While my efforts to go green will continue in my zones of influence, being part of the USGBC board can help synergistically reach and impact a much larger audience. I have always been passionate about green education and being part of USGBC will provide me with the reach and resources to further various green education initiatives and help instill environmental responsibility amongst school and college students. I would be delighted to bring my passion, leadership and knowledge to further advance the goals of USGBC in an effort to improve the sustainability quotient in construction materials and buildings. It will indeed be an honor and privilege to serve the USGBC and actively take part in the global green revolution that is in the making.
What resources could you bring to help further participation by diverse sectors in USGBC?
The biggest resource that I could bring to USGBC is my in-depth understanding of sustainability in this part of the world. I have been closely involved in several green initiatives in India, Asia and Middle East for the last 10 years, and can bring that vast knowledge of these markets to USGBC as we strive to make LEED a global rating system. I am a trained expert in laboratory accreditation, product evaluation and certification having led several teams for ISO/IEC 17025, 17020 and Guide 65 accreditations. This experience and understanding of conformity assessment issues and product evaluations could help further conceptualize and evolve need-based certification schemes for USGBC and the industry. I co-developed the Environmental product declaration program (formerly SAVE program) for ICC Evaluation Service Inc., and have a detailed understanding of various issues pertaining to product evaluations and materials and can add tremendous value especially to LEEDv4 and its implementation in this region. My experience of developing technical inputs and training programs for implementation of International Green Construction Code (IgCC) can help USGBC tremendously in advocating high-impact green building policies and codes internationally. It will also help in bridging the space between ratings, codes and standards. My strong professional and client network, which is spread across various sectors and geographies, can be leveraged to reach out, pilot and evolve various region-specific initiatives. My existing schools network can be a tremendous resource for USGBC to reach out and shape innovative young minds that are increasingly concerned about their future.