Tatiana Schonhobel is a finalist in the Women in Sustainability category of the Sustainability Awards. Siniat is once again sponsoring this category. The winner will be announced during a digital event on 11 November 2021 (tonight).
Tatiana has experience in the implementation of sustainability strategies for the built environment: delivering advisory, analytics and certification services globally. Her current role is Sustainability Consultant at Integral Group.
Where and how did your sustainability journey start?
My sustainability journey started during my Bachelor of Design, when I decided to take a gap year to be part of a volunteering program in the UK. I had the opportunity to live for a year in a sustainable rural community working with people with learning disabilities. My duties there were; to assist them in their daily activities including maintaining the biodynamic garden where most of the community’s food was produced, and fabrication in the woodwork and pottery shops for sale in seasonal markets. I was fascinated by the sense of community and how things were shared and produced locally. This was a pivotal moment, a decade ago, which drove me to start working on several projects related to sustainability in the built environment. After this experience I started my professional career in a research role to develop facade systems to improve energy efficiency for social housing.
Can you tell us about a sustainability project that you have worked on that is very close to your heart?
One of the most significant projects in my career was being part of a contestant team for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon®. I collaborated with a large multidisciplinary team to design and build a prefabricated sustainable house. It was very meaningful to participate in a project from its inception and have the opportunity to help build it with your own hands. Through this experience I realised how crucial is to have a diverse team where creative thinking can thrive.
What are the biggest challenges facing architects and other professionals working in the sustainability space today?
It is crucial for sustainability professionals to operate from a positive mindset and be able to tell stories of possible futures beyond the darkness that comes with climate change and social issues. For leaders, the challenge is to elevate the level of sustainability ambition in every decision they are part of.
What will winning this award mean for your career?
Winning this award will be an opportunity to connect with professionals and like-minded people with whom I can collaborate for new initiatives. I would love to use this space to engage with coalition-based initiatives where I can participate and strengthen skills to advocate. As a young professional coming from a developing country, I also think these types of platforms can help to inspire young people to pursue a career, regardless of cultural background or gender.
What is needed to move the mainstream toward sustainable buildings?
Sustainability should not be seen as an add on for projects, but rather be integrated into the design process. In this sense, we have a tremendous task to upskill the upcoming professionals.