High Performance Buildings – Mounica Parimi
Success Story — Mounica Parimi
Hiring managers in the building industry face an ongoing challenge – finding professionals who combine wide-ranging knowledge of energy use and green building design with the project management, communication and leadership skills to successfully guide teams and oversee projects.
The UBC Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in High Performance Buildings addresses this need by combining graduate courses in architecture and engineering taught by leading researchers from the UBC Faculty of Applied Science and the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture with courses on business and leadership through UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School.
This unique hybrid education attracted Mounica Parimi, who graduated in 2019 and is currently a technical team manager at EnerSaver Solutions, an energy advisory company that helps homeowners and multifamily building owners reduce their energy consumption.
Mounica applied to the 12-month MEL as a way to learn more about energy modelling and green building design. “My professional background is as a mechanical engineer working for a power generation company in India,” she says.
“I know how hard it is to generate power, which is why I was interested in strategies to reduce power consumption. The MEL in High Performance Buildings offered the background in energy modelling that I wanted. It also had the advantage over other graduate programs because it also covers business and financial knowledge.”
Comprehensive green building design knowledge
Students take a range of courses to deepen their understanding of the design decisions and engineering strategies needed to ensure buildings meet or exceed energy performance standards. Courses include green building design, energy systems and the indoor environment, whole building energy modelling and simulation, and regenerative development.
Students also complete two capstone projects, with the first focusing on building an energy model of an existing building and the second requiring them to develop a high-performance energy system for a new build.
“I didn’t have any experience in energy modelling before this program,” says Mounica. “I loved it, and learning the tools and techniques made me want to make a career in this field. I started at EnerSaver as an energy modeller and obtained my certification as an energy advisor, looking for practical strategies to optimize a building’s energy performance. In one year, I was able to take on more responsibilities as a team manager. Working in energy optimization lets me use my skills to reduce a building’s greenhouse gas emissions and optimize its energy use.”
Strong leadership and project management skills
Leading complex projects and managing interdisciplinary teams requires skills in project management, communication and leadership.
They take classes on organizational leadership, strategy and innovation, data analytics and data visualization, and strategy and leadership. An intense four-week business boot camp introduces students to six core business competencies, from accounting and contract management to business case development, and students can also take an additional business course of their choosing.
Mounica says the business classes have enabled her to act as a conduit between groups at her company. “In my role, I often have to review the technical and financial reports. The MEL has provided me with tools to understand the overview of the business.”
Collaborative team players and leaders
One of the defining features of the MEL in High Performance Buildings is that it replicates the industry’s integrated design process by bringing together multidisciplinary teams of engineers and architects.
As Ron Kellett, co-director of the program, says, “We run the projects like design studios that simulate a team-based practice. Students work collaboratively, guided by a professional instructor, to define the problem, research alternative approaches and consult external experts to develop and propose innovative solutions.”
The knowledge and skills that come from working in these interdisciplinary teams enable graduates to be more effective team players and leaders.
“Before joining the MEL I hadn’t worked with architects or electrical engineers,” says Mounica.
“The program included a mix of mechanical, structural and electrical engineers, as well as architects, and when we worked on team projects or the capstone projects, everyone was able to contribute their professional knowledge and we learned from each other. I really got to understand many different technical perspectives, and it’s now become like a common language when I work with people outside of my specific field.”