Each year, Corporate Knights recognizes the top 30 individuals under 30 years old who are showcasing great leadership on sustainability issues. These fearless leaders are tackling some of the toughest issues related to climate change, making waves in renewable energy, creating solutions for more sustainable agriculture, and making cities more efficient and habitable.
On this last front, TAF’s Kaitlin Carroll is making her mark as one of this year’s recipients. As our building energy and environmental researcher, Kaitlin works with the TowerWise energy retrofit team to examine indoor air quality and energy use within the built environment. Kaitlin is also the co-chair of the Emerging Green Professionals (EGP) Committee at the Canada Green Building Council – Greater Toronto Chapter, advocating for students and young professionals in the sustainable building industry. We asked Kaitlin to share her insights about key energy efficiency technologies and the integrated design process she is testing for developing low-carbon urban neighbourhoods.
What do you think is one of the most promising green building technologies or solutions, and why?
I really like air source heat pumps! I think it’s great that they are a low-energy way to introduce both heating and cooling into buildings, especially since with climate change we’re now looking at more cooling loads in Toronto than ever before.
What is a typical day for you working on energy efficiency retrofits at TAF?
We have this saying, there is no ‘typical day’ at TAF, and I think that’s a great thing. A lot of my work centres around understanding the impacts that energy efficiency retrofits have had on buildings and their residents. I also get to do site visits and speak with the people involved with our retrofit programs, that’s one of my favourite aspects of the job because it’s always very refreshing.
Why is an integrated design approach important for developing sustainable urban neighbourhoods? How have you tested this approach?
An integrated design approach is really important to the success of any project, especially when it comes to sustainability. Having all stakeholders at the table from the start of the design process helps project teams understand the goals and challenges of the project, and ensures that vital parts of the design are not simply value engineered out.
For the past two years I’ve organized a design charrette for the Emerging Green Professionals to encourage integrated design amongst young people who might not have had much exposure to working with people from other fields. Working with diverse teams can be challenging, but many participants really enjoyed the opportunity to play to their own strengths and learn from others.
What were some of the novel ideas that emerged from the design charrette?
For this year’s competition we included community involvement as a key goal. I found it interesting that for most teams, active transportation was closely aligned with a sense of community, safety, and enjoyment of space. Of course, it also tied in with a lot of other benefits, such as reduced carbon emissions from vehicles, increasing green spaces, better storm water management, and improved human health.
From a building energy perspective, the designs challenged traditional building energy systems, by introducing renewable energy sources and district energy. Teams also focused on improving the building envelope to reduce energy losses and introducing beauty through culturally responsive architecture. The top three team’s posters are being showcased at the Vertical Neighbourhoods Summit on November 19, if you’d like to see more!
What motivates you? Why did you pursue a career in the climate and energy efficiency sector?
I first got inspired by a course on environmental design that I took during my undergrad. The course showcased different passive strategies for buildings, many of which have existed for thousands of years. It really made me think about the buildings we work or live in now, and I felt like we had started to move away from buildings as healthy, functional places to live. I would really like to help us get back on track.
TAF wishes a big congratulations to Kaitlin and the other winners of the top 30 under 30 for their leadership in climate action! The future is hopeful.