Having spent 20 years in Vancouver, Julie Hardy returned to Quebec 10 years ago. Ever interested in the environment, she fell in love with the sustainable building industry. Today, Julie tells us about her role within the Buildings sector’s sustainable development division at CIMA+.
Why did you choose to work in engineering, and more specifically in sustainability?
I started my career with a degree in biotechnology which included both field and laboratory work. My work was solitary, and I quickly felt that I missed the social side of the workplace. As far back as I can remember, I have always been interested in the environmental protection and the sustainability solutions. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I spent a lot of time in British Columbia, a slice of heaven with its mountains and the Pacific Ocean. I decided to shift my focus towards a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, and began focusing my career on sustainable building.
What were your greatest achievements in engineering and at CIMA+?
Since joining CIMA+, I had the opportunity to participate inthe launch of the Center of Excellence for Sustainability and to create the Sustainable and Responsible Engineering Guide at CIMA+, in collaboration with Luc Jolicoeur. I am extremely proud of these two projects, as they were both impactful, and resourceful for our colleagues. I have found that the need for sustainability has become more naturally prevalent in the last few years, and that both the engineers and our clients have a further willingness to integrate sustainble principles into their projects. It makes me really happy to see that the green shift is truly underway in our industry.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
I believe that the biggest challenge I have experienced in the past is a reality many women in engineering have faced or are still facing. In previous experiences, I got the impression that I was more easily judged or had to work harder to get the same recognition as a man. When I arrived at CIMA+, I realized that it was not the same in all companies. I have always felt respected and listened to at CIMA+.
How would you describe the sustainable development at CIMA+ and what is its biggest asset?
The Center of Excellence for Sustainability, which I lead, is always ready to help and advise others.
We work on diversified and large-scale projects, and I am particularly fond of the multidisciplinary aspect where collaboration is essential in order to conceive high-performance infrastructure while respecting the sustainably criteria.
We have more and more initiatives related to sustainability in our work at CIMA+. This is really encouraging and motivating. In my opinion, it is also an important factor of attraction and retention for us. The projects in sustainability attract a lot of young people.
What is your vision for the Center of Excellence for Sustainability?
I would like to further develop the Center of Excellence for Sustainability to serve all sectors at CIMA+. Making sustainability a major resource at CIMA+ would allow our company to grow even more and to support our clients in their shift towards green processes and initiatives. More specifically, my vision and my hope for the Building sector would be that all our building projects go through a life cycle analysis as well as an energetic simulation in order to understand the GHG emissions linked to our designs and find solutions to reduce them.
What is your dream project?
It would be to develop a project based on a regenerative design, going further than the NetZero as asked by the Living Building Challenge Certification. By generating a surplus of energy and water, the project would have, not only a positive impact on the environment, but it would give back to the community where it is located.
According to you, what is the field with more potential?
The main issue that causes climate change is related to designs that are not adapted and that are very polluting, such as home appliances with scheduled obsolescence, increasingly large cars, and energy-consuming buildings. I think there is a lot of work to be done on decarbonizing our projects and on finding technical and technological solutions based on a circular economy to allow us to meet the goals of carbon neutrality.
Last question, what do you do to relax and change your mind?
I really enjoy outdoor activities. Going for walks, playing tennis or beach volleyball during summer, I love it! I also started karate with my son. So, you can find me practicing with him.