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CIBSE ASHRAE Graduate of the Year 2022 Winner - Sana Hafsa

Hi, I'm Sana Hafsa, the CIBSE ASHRAE Graduate of the Year 2022.

Why did you enter the awards?

I entered the awards primarily in the hopes that this experience would allow me to become a more significant part of conversations shaping the industry, beyond just building services but for the overall sustainability in construction. Additionally, it was to motivate myself to reflect on my experiences during university. It is easy to fall into the fast-paced life of constantly looking forward and immersing oneself in achieving the next goal, the more difficult one, for me at least, is to take a breather and actually reflect on everything to make sure I have taken away the most I can from those experiences.

What new and exciting projects are you working on?

With my team at AESG, we are working on sustainability guidelines and certifications for a new city in Saudi Arabia called Diriyah Gate. This is particularly exciting as it is a huge master plan with multiple districts at different design or construction stages. It makes implementation of our sustainability recommendations challenging as we start at the masterplan scale and need to ensure these are fed all the way down to the asset level. Another one, is a project called MC2 in Masdar, an incredible project that we are currently supervising construction for following the design stages. It contains 7 buildings out of which one aims to be the first net-zero office in Abu Dhabi! The other 6 buildings are also targeting LEED, WELL and Estidama certifications.

What exciting opportunities have you received since winning the YEAs?

After attending the event especially, it feels like fast track ticket for being recognized by and connecting with significant individuals in the industry that can truly boost any career aspirations one might have. This has definitely happened for me in the UK as well as back in UAE too!

Why you should enter?

The process of the application itself can feel quite validating regardless of what happens after. The main driver however is taking the chance to meet inspiring individuals if you are shortlisted.

Do you have any building services icons that you would like to celebrate? This could be a person, building, or technology

It absolutely has to be BIM! As much as this has been in the spotlight recently, I don’t think we can talk about what it means for the built environment enough simply due to the wide scope of implementation that it has throughout all the stages. The one talked about most is efficiency in design which of course helps by creating that platform for all designers and contractors to ensure the best design decisions prior to construction. But BIM also allows on on-siterk to become more streamlined and collaborative. When linked with mobile devices we can have field workers communicating with designers in the office at all times looking at the same plans and same physical area, significantly minimizing negative impacts on the quality and ensuring that any changes on site are immediately documented and shared across the team. Finally, we come to operations where the incorporation of data and analytics heightens capabilities further, allowing a Facilities Management team to ensure that all systems are working at optimal performance, therefore, minimizing energy consumption and maximizing user comfort and satisfaction.

What inspires you as an early career engineer? Is it problem-solving? The impact that you can have on the world around you? Getting to work on exciting projects? Learning from other engineers?

I have always loved maths, physics and logic in general, but since I wanted to be able to apply that knowledge for managing real world issues, engineering was the ideal choice. I fell into construction for now as I believe this is an industry with a significant impact on the world, which is my key inspiration as a professional, whether this impact is through people or the environment.

How do you engage others, friends or family in the work that you do?

If it is with those in same industry, we like to discuss the common issues we face and why, to conclude on how things can be done better, this happens on an everyday basis with my colleagues, and quite often with my peers in other companies as well. If it is with those outside the industry, I enjoy discussing misconceptions that others have about construction, or even just some interesting scenarios that have come up in certain projects. I find that the biggest influence you can have on people is simply through sharing your stories, and it is through people that we can create change where needed.

What would you like to do to inspire the next years applicants?
By continuing to challenge myself and sharing that journey with everyone.

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