Aurora Sharrard

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Aurora Sharrard

Vice President of Innovation at Green Building Alliance

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Was there a particular person or event that influenced your career choice? After my junior year in high school, I attended a week-long paid (!) engineering program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that moved me from just considering math into engineering.

Also, after working on a lot of construction sites at my first job, I was drawn to sustainability because I knew there had to be a better way to create buildings and infrastructure.

What are your favorite aspects of your job? I like the variety of what we do at GBA, from hosting engaging educational events, scoping interesting building tours, quantifying building performance, evolving organizations’ culture through sustainability decisions, and just answering questions about everything green!

It is also very rewarding to work on something locally and see it come to fruition in the tangible reality of a building.

What are the most difficult challenges of your work? It is very frustrating when people only want to consider how much a building or renovation costs and what the financial payback of that decision is — instead of more broadly incorporating function, quality, people, sustainability, and resiliency.

What career did you imagine yourself in as a young girl? I was always good at math, so I started off wanting to be a math teacher, then an economist, then an engineer.

When I finished my undergraduate degree, I thought I would always be a professional engineer. I don’t practice engineering anymore like a typical civil or environmental engineer does, but I find the role I’m in to be tremendously rewarding.

Read more about her career! Civil EngineerEnvironmental Engineer

400climateBio: Aurora works at Green Building Alliance which she describes as “a community benefit organization headquartered in PIttsburgh, Pennsylvania, Green Building Alliance (GBA) inspires the creation of healthy, high performing places for everyone by providing leadership that connects knowledge, transformative ideas, and collaborative action.” She personally works with two main GPA projects, Pittsburgh 2030 District and DASH. Pittsburgh 2030 hopes to create a 50% reduction in energy, water, and transportation emissions by the year 2030; DASH is the Database for Analyzing Sustainable and High Performance Buildings, where they help industry professionals make their buildings more eco-friendly. Skills that are important for this career would be the ability to multitask, being able to collaborate with others and to be a good communicator.

To train for her career, Aurora received her B.S in civil engineering at Tulane University, and her Master of Science and PhD in civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. She is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED). She would say that the most interesting experience she has had in her career was “I’ve had several opportunities to be involved in a building project from the very beginning all the way through to daily operations and maintenance, which can be tremendously fulfilling.” She works with many types of people from architects to academic faculty and students!

In her free time, Aurora likes to spend time with her family, run, read and relax in her hammock, and renovate her 100+ year old house to make it more green! She and her husband also used to lawn bowl in Frick Park. Her role models include her parents, many of her elementary teachers, and working parents in general!