We spoke with Sustainable Design Architect, Farah about her job and what inspired her into sustainable innovation.
What is your ethnic, academic and professional background?
Ethnic: Pakistani American born and raised in New York City
- Bachelor of Architecture from The Spitzer School of Architecture
- Certificate in Sustainable Design, Construction, and Development from NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate
- LEED AP BD+C (LEED Accredited Professional in Building Design and Construction)
- RA (Registered Architect)
- City Government Worker in Architecture and Sustainability in the built environment
What does your current job in sustainable architecture entail?
I am a Sustainable Design Architect. Essentially, I review projects for compliance with green building standards and assist in the development of technical standards based on building code, local laws and green third party certifications that exist.
What inspired you to act as a catalyst for sustainable practice? Is there a particular story you can share?
Competing in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon as a student gave me my first look inside the evolving technology of energy and water efficiency and my interest has only evolved as our design standards become more stringent and high building performance has become the forefront of design.
I loved the approach of interdisciplinary collaboration that design and construction entail – the number of specialty consultants/sub-consultants at any one project and working together to create a solution from the project onset is incredibly dynamic.
Being South Asian, did you face any backlash about this career choice from family, friends or society at large? How did you overcome it?
Quite the contrary! My father encouraged it because he is an Engineer who worked frequently with Architects- I came to appreciate the technical and creative side of this profession. Although, I will say that there are very few South Asians in Architecture. I do believe that diverse STEM fields aren’t as widely recognised in our culture, which is a shame because Architecture needs as many diverse points of view as it can get!
How have you actively changed your daily practice to be more sustainable?
I’m the green police around family and friends sometimes- water conservation, turning off lights, minimising my heat/cooling usage, etc. are all basics that I preach regularly. I also believe in raising awareness and use my social media platforms and website to talk about building sustainability trends that everyone can practice in their own homes!
I also lead a sustainable office group where I work, where we share sustainable office practices with our colleagues to drive down material (paper and plastic), food, water and energy waste.
Do you feel there is a stigma or lack of understanding of the climate crisis among South Asian communities? What do you believe the blockers to be and how would you go about solving the issues?
I’m not sure if the climate crisis is a culturally-related issue, but I do have family and friends in the South Asian community who are totally unaware and unwilling to change their habits! We take our resources for granted here in the U.S. I think we need to create more social media groups and social clubs that evolve around this theme.
Congregations, events and celebrations are a huge part of our culture, so maybe we simply need to change the format of how we share our information and make it more interactive and engaging.
What have been your greatest successes and learnings?
My greatest success has been obtaining my professional license three years ago! It gives my voice more credibility in all of my publication ventures – I frequently write about sustainability in the built environment.
What advice would you give to younger generations in relation to sustainability and the environment? Why is it important for them and their future?
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