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Q&A with sustainability champion, Michelle Xuereb

Michelle is a highly skilled architect with over 25 years of experience designing buildings, leading teams, and seeing projects through to construction completion. Michelle is a passionate environmentalist and her dedication to sustainability informs every aspect of her work including setting and implementing BDP Quadrangle’s sustainability strategy. Michelle established and leads our in-house green team which works directly with project teams to set and monitor project-specific sustainability goals aligned with client corporate ambitions.


What is your approach to sustainability when embarking on a new project?

My approach is to start with an overarching discussion that starts with the stakeholders’ why – why does sustainability matter to the client, to the regulators, to the neighbourhood, to the people who will live/work/play in the build environment, to the people on the design team? I think it’s extremely important to be very clear on the why in order to propose solutions that align with a client’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals for their company and how the project will fit into this framework as well as to understand the trajectory of regulatory and market change. Setting clear and measurable targets that can be revisited over the lifespan of the project is key to ensuring that the project meets its stated goals.

What do you see as the biggest challenge to delivering sustainable design within your role? How do you overcome challenges faced?

The biggest challenge is working with clients to push the boundaries of the work we are doing together beyond current regulatory standards, while working with them to manage future risk. We are at a tipping point where business as usual is no longer the safer choice. Regulation is changing quickly. The carbon tax (Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act) will see the price of GHG emissions go from $40/ton today to $170/ton by 2030. Communities that are built in anticipation of a low carbon future will be more resilient. The only way to overcome these challenges is to trust one another to work through the challenges of trying new technologies or processes together.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities for BDP as a practice to drive the sustainability agenda?

Our biggest opportunity at BDP is our people. People drive passion. People drive change. By investing in their education, supporting their advocacy efforts, and leading by example, we build confidence, commitment and momentum to drive the sustainability agenda.

What does living sustainably mean to you personally? Have you made any significant changes in your personal / home life?

Living sustainably means riding my bike, walking in my community, taking transit wherever possible. supporting local businesses, and getting to know my neighbours.

What good examples of sustainable innovations or initiatives from projects, on site or in offices have you seen?

We are exploring panelised high performance building envelope systems, clip on balconies, thermal break technology, geo-exchange thermal loops, data monitoring systems and quality assurance pathways such as air infiltration testing.

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