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Hear from AECOM senior architect Maia Kumari Bree Chowdhury

Hear from AECOM senior architect Maia Kumari Bree Chowdhury

 May 23, 2023

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Meet Maia Kumari Bree Chowdhury, a senior architect at AECOM.

Through her career, Maia wants to enable more people to experience more of the harmony of the natural world through clean air, soils and water, views of and integration with nature, healthy construction materials, systems, and a thriving built environment, with more ease of access and balance with environmental well-being. 

Maia is featured in an article by U.S. Green Building Council, a group that aims to amplify voices in the green building community who identify as Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Hear Maia's thoughts on how the industry should embrace cultural diversity, and what green projects most inspire her.

Creating a more inclusive and equitable industry

AECOM architect

When asked about how the industry could become more inclusive for Asian American and Pacific Islander professionals in green roles, Maia comments: "This is a great question that I would break down into smaller parts. How could the industry become more equitable and inclusive generally? I think this starts with K–12 education and extending a vision of opportunity to everyone. How could the industry become more equitable and inclusive for Asian American and Pacific Islander professionals? By shining a spotlight like this here, on more of the accomplishments and achievements. By offering more opportunities for advancement. By appreciating work already in progress by those professionals, engaged and moving upward in the industry."

"How could the industry become more equitable and inclusive for Asian American and Pacific Islanders in green roles, specifically? Allow heritage, and an understanding of what it means to be from a place, in the diaspora, and synthesizing with a larger, dominant community, to influence design and engineering solutions. There is much to be learned from the rich heritage of Asian American and Pacific Islander design and construction, both in a traditional sense, and also in a contemporary interpretation. For example, we can build on -or deviate from, having learned from - traditions of Feng Shui and Vaastu, with contemporary approaches like biophilic design. Let these inspirations and cultural approaches be part of the weave going forward," adds Maia.

Discussing her favorite sustainability activity

Maia also shares her favorite sustainability activity: "Hands down, my favorite sustainability activity has been the immersive carbon modeling training at AECOM. This was a global training involving staff from our company that allowed me to advance my work in providing sustainable solutions to clients, while also synthesizing all of my previous knowledge of sustainability in adaptive reuse and historic restoration. This carbon modeling upskilling is part of our global decarbonization approach, ScopeX, which aims to reduce the carbon impact of major projects across our planning, design and construction projects by 50% compared to industry norms."

Maia continues: "I am eager to see more of this work both within my company and also in the industry as a whole. Carbon modeling and carbon calculations should be considered as part of the budget on any project. As a senior architect with the company, I am in a position to advocate for the integration of carbon modeling on all of our projects, and this is certainly the way forward in the industry. As a woman of mixed Asian and European heritage, I feel the resonance of being at the helm of both environmentalism and of representing BIPOC women in sustainable architecture and engineering, in this mode of work."

Read the full article to hear from further voices in the Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander community.

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