13 December 2019
By Marietta Gontikaki
Another newbie! KLH welcomes Marietta to the team!
Tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in the Mediterranean, Greece and three of its largest cities being my home for the first 20+ years of my life. Despite my childhood aspirations of becoming a journalist, explorer or a photographer, I studied civil engineering instead, always knowing that I wanted to pursue an environment-focused specialisation thereafter.
As my interest grew towards building physics and the environmental impacts of the built environment, I moved to The Netherlands for my Master’s degree to develop my knowledge in this field. The two years I spent there gave me solid foundations in terms of technical knowledge and a love for bespoke, research-based projects.
Since then, I have worked predominantly in London as a sustainability consultant in the built environment. I enjoy working as part of a wider design team on new developments, striving for optimum environmental performance, high quality placemaking and end-user experience.
Where did you first hear about KLH Sustainability?
It was through a close friend who also happens to work in the sustainability field in London as a carbon specialist; she knew Kirsten and was familiar with the work of the team, and knowing me as well she thankfully put two and two together and figured this could be a good match.
What made KLH Sustainability stand out for you to work for?
Even before meeting the team, whilst going through the website material I was really impressed by the rigorous, research-driven approach embodied by KLH, and the emphasis placed on ongoing engagement with the project stakeholders as a key enabling process for change. I was equally fascinated by the diversity of the work which encompasses some of the most intriguing fields of the times including circular economy and life-cycle carbon neutrality The passion, creativity, and commitment that characterise the team also stood out, together with the focus on collective work and close collaboration.
What is your current role at KLH Sustainability?
I am joining as a senior sustainability advisor, bringing my expertise of energy, building physics and environmental modelling to the team, but really getting my hands on a wide range of projects and scopes, using my past diverse experience and flexible set of skills. I am also hoping to pass on knowledge and help more junior members in developing skills in their areas of interest, whilst looking forward to being taught and learning from the other KLHers!
How do you see yourself going forward within KLH Sustainability?
I see KLH Sustainability as a place offering me the opportunity to grow in whole new ways and pursue my interests which are as diverse as the team’s undertakings. I would like to play an active role in developing services and in-house skills that are only just emerging in the sector and moving towards the right direction (e.g. parametric analysis to inform the design at concept stages). I am also looking forward to gaining an in-depth understanding in areas that the team is already working on such as materiality, circular economy, climate resilience and whole life cycle analysis.
Beyond the everyday practice, I am hoping that together as a team we can find ways to steer engagement and collaboration with other construction professionals and stakeholders, to drive change at the pace that is needed to respond to the climate emergency.
What does sustainability mean to you?
‘Sustainability’ is a word trying to capture one of the possible visions for our future, one that we can decide (urgently now) to pursue, or not. For me it means a future where all people live with social freedoms and with their human rights protected, having their true (as opposed to ‘basic’) needs met on the basis of equality; and one where humans and nature co-evolve and co-develop in a mutually supportive relationship.
Now, it is crucial to consider ‘sustainability’ as that transformational process that will get us to that future. I believe communities must come together collectively to re-imagine and re-build our existing structures and systems. Starting with a critical review of our value system and perceptions around ‘development’, re-working our modes of production and consumption, and re-evaluating our relationship with and responsibility towards one another and the natural world.