News & Events

Spotlight: Program Series with Steve Rogak – Moving beyond professional silos

March 5, 2019
UBC MEL in HPB Program Spotlight Series

Moving beyond professional silos

By Steve Rogak, Co-director of UBC’s Master of Engineering Leadership in High Performance Buildings

Think of the building industry as a large ship that needs kilometres to stop – and irreversible climate change is a kilometre away on the horizon.

The choices we make when retrofitting and designing buildings are long-term decisions locked into concrete and steel for at least 50 years. Those choices need to be made carefully.

Engineers and architects often face competing pressures. Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – of which the building industry is a significant contributor – are leading some jurisdictions to introduce aggressive energy-reduction targets. There may be pressure from the client to build as inexpensively as possible. And then there are the building codes and regulations – often based on engineering and science that could be decades old – that constrain choices.

Traditional approaches in this industry were linear, moving from client to architect to engineers to builders. However, leading firms now recognize the value of bringing architects, designers and engineers together from the very beginning of the design process. It allows for a more holistic approach. It means, for example, that you can identify the mechanical systems that will best suit the characteristics of the building early on, and you can design the building with a view to minimizing heating loads. This approach also makes it easier to take advantage of new technology that can increase energy efficiency, building comfort or environmental performance. When you have engineers and architects working together from the beginning, you are more likely to see new opportunities than you would in a traditional workflow.

Practising in this way requires professionals who have a broad perspective and understanding beyond their own discipline.

Engineers and architects need to understand the issues and constraints that each face. When you can bridge the traditional silos between the professions, you’re able to find solutions that skillfully navigate the trade-offs and complexities.

The Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in High Performance Buildings offers architects and engineers the opportunity to expand the scope of their knowledge and consider new perspectives. Our students build their knowledge across the disciplines, and they work together in interdisciplinary teams on real-world projects. Over the 12 months of the program, they learn to appreciate the complex and competing pressures inherent in the building industry, putting them in a better position to advocate to – and collaborate with – regulators, clients, consultants and others when they return to professional practice.

Students explore data analytics, strategy and innovation, and sustainability in the business classes that make up 40 percent of the program. This gives them the broader perspective and skills needed to help make the building industry more nimble – to see the value of certain advances and have the communication and leadership skills to get things moving in the right direction, and to identify value and opportunities within the sector.

Learn more about how the MEL in High Performance Buildings can help you lead change in your industry, giving you the technical knowledge, foundational business skills and leadership confidence to excel in your career. UBC also offers the MEL in other sector-specific programs, including advanced materials manufacturing, clean energy engineering, dependable software systems, integrated water management, naval architecture and marine engineering and urban systems.

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