Eera Babtiwale, LEED AP BD+C, Associate Principal, has joined the ranks of Building Design + Construction magazine’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2016. The annual competition is open to AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) professionals from around the world. Chosen from 225 candidates, Eera joins other winners for the 6th Annual Under 40 Leadership Summit in Chicago, IL October 26-28.
Eera’s got the resume of an architectural wunderkind. She started her career as a designer with a passion for sustainability. That passion developed into a skillset that HMC Architects noticed. Realizing we had a sustainable leader in our midst, we supported her every move and she has been on the fast track ever since. Today, she spearheads sustainable design efforts for projects firm wide.
However, she by no means thinks that sustainability belongs in the hands of a few. Eera is quick to recognize that she wouldn’t be where she is today without her mentor, Pablo La Roche, and colleagues, especially Eric Carbonnier. Together they have accomplished great feats for projects, people, and for HMC. And that’s why she’s giving her coworkers the tools and motivation they need so that everybody at HMC can become sustainable leaders. She sees every project as an opportunity to make a positive impact in terms of energy, water, and waste use, but also in terms of educating and inspiring building users through the sustainable features of the built environment.
She pushes the envelope on all of her projects when it comes to sustainability. When LEED Silver Certification was the only expectation from her client—she has attained LEED Gold or LEED Platinum. She now sets her sights on how net zero energy can redefine the way we think about architectural design.
She led the sustainable analysis and LEED certification of the Pierce College Library project in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley—setting out to smash the mold of a conventional library being purely an academic facility by transforming it into a high-performance social destination. With stats including 95 percent natural daylighting, 50 percent energy cost savings, and 100 percent recycled water for irrigation, her strategies resulted in a LEED Platinum building that upholds and celebrates the college’s high-performance learning culture.
Together with Pablo La Roche, Eera designed the active green roof project at Irvine Unified School District’s Portola High School Student Union. The forward-thinking design conserves energy by up to 50 percent. The roof also reduces the use of potable irrigation water by 100 percent using condensate water collected from the air conditioning system to irrigate the green roof. All of the energy and water conservation data is relayed to an interactive computer kiosk inside the building so that students can learn more about sustainable design. Eera is now working with manufacturers to see how this system can become a prototype for other school buildings.
As a regular speaker at sustainability conferences, she is charting a path for HMC to become a recognized leader in high-performance design. That path includes developing the HMC Eco Charrette—a high-performance workshop—as a tool for designers to use in order to achieve integrated sustainable design. Because designers have the power to make sustainability a reality, she helped develop HMC’s sustainable design retreat where earth-friendly design concepts and tools are introduced to HMC designers. Alongside colleague Eric Carbonnier, she is also in the process of developing the sustainability component of HMC’s CSR program, so that their sustainable design approach can extend to and support employee well being and lifestyles.
Eera’s efforts are making a difference in demonstrating how sustainable building design translates into tangible savings. With California Mandating Net Zero by 2030, she is poised as a reliable expert for her clients. She utilizes a four-part mantra: 1. Start with passive design, 2. Right-size the mechanical system, 3. Supplement with renewables, 4. Use the building to inspire and teach. The result not only promises a lower utility bill, but a change in human behavior, and a reverence for resource conservation.
To Eera, sustainability transcends high-performance building and design methods. That’s why she is leading HMC employees to change their everyday behaviors by empowering them to adopt a sustainable lifestyle in and outside the office. According to Eera, we can design the most sustainable buildings, but if we don’t know how to use them properly and become agents of change, then we haven’t fully succeeded.
Vice Chair of the Board, Chair of Green Schools
U.S. Green Building Council Inland Empire (USGBC-IE)
Eera has been a USGBC Inland Empire Chapter board member for three years and vice chair for the last two. Here, she facilitates sustainability workshops for schools. She started a series in which she trained 30 high school students—teaching them to deliver the workshops to other students. With common core and STEM education becoming the norm, her program is resonating with teachers and principals. In fact, it’s been so successful, that more and more school districts are adopting the program. In the classroom, she teaches a hands-on approach to water cycle, drought response, renewal energy, waste reduction, the components of smog, and how to recycle.
Board Member, HMC Designing Futures Foundation (DFF)
Through her work with both these boards, Eera has delivered several sustainability workshops for kids throughout Southern California. She co-developed several air quality workshops for STEM schools in the Inland Empire as well as HMC’s first on-site office run garden. The produce harvested from the garden raises funding for a local food bank in the Inland Empire. Proceeds are then matched by DFF. Eera also organized HMC’s first on-site yoga class in support of HMC employee’s health and wellness program.
Child, Family Health Institute (CFHI)
As a community leader, Eera volunteers her service to help transform perspectives about self, global health, and healing. Her many hours of dedication have assisted in the building of a walk-in clinic for Quito, Ecuador’s indigenous population.
OFF THE CLOCK
Eera is a dedicated wife and mother of two girls ages 6 and 8. Her daughters were her source of inspiration to become the sustainable lead for HMC’s projects because she wants them to inherit a healthier, more positive world.
Always seeking universal peace, Eera volunteers regularly at Dharma and Yoga Fest in Los Angeles and has her mind set on becoming a certified yoga instructor in the next year. But that’s not all. She also plays the piano and sitar, loves to sing, and does Indian classical and folk dance.