Engineering Sustainable Change
By: Tyler Cain
As the newest member of the Brendle Group team I have finally taken my first steps into the professional world. Being a strong sustainability enthusiast, I could not have asked for a better company environment to be a part of. Brendle Group fosters an environment of creativity and innovation for sustainability focused engineering and planning, while supporting a small close-knit group of employees who actually practice what they preach.
Every week we take the time to meet as a one big team and discuss how the company is doing, who needs support, and give credit to those who went the extra mile. We regularly meet to discuss the progress of our internal operations and future plans to achieve our own sustainability goals. Personal passions and professional development goals are encouraged and celebrated.
Since Brendle Group is currently hiring interns, I am using this opportunity to reflect on my recent experiences and offer some advice to aspiring young sustainability professionals out there. If you are like me, selecting and starting a career path in college can feel overwhelming and/or confusing. There are seemingly endless options to choose from when selecting a college degree. In order to get a better sense of where you want to end up and to benefit the most from your college experience, take some time to research specific sustainability jobs you could see yourself enjoying and find out what the requirements are. For example, Brendle Group employees have a combination of sustainable engineering, planning, and project management skills needed to complete the type of consulting work we take on. Additional commonly found skills in sustainability related fields are natural resource management, architecture, and economics to name a few.
When in school you may be wondering what is really important and what skills will best apply to a future job? Speaking from my engineering background, I found aspects of sustainability in every class I had, even if they weren’t directly focused on sustainability. Whether it was a class in traffic engineering, concrete, robotics, or my senior capstone building design class, I tried to always see a sustainability perspective and consider the environmental, economic, and social impacts of what I was working on. If you look at the big picture you will see that the important takeaways are learning how to problem solve, pay attention to details, cooperate and lead in a team environment, and organize your life so you can get work done on time. If you want to be ahead of the game, take as many classes as possible related to sustainability and practical professional skills. Also, get involved with sustainability clubs at your school, such as solar car and house design teams, Engineers for a Sustainable World, or something similar. If no clubs appeal to you, don’t be afraid to start your own. Sustainable development requires changing the way we live and do business, which is why sustainability companies are always looking for individuals who are passionate about supporting that change.
When it comes time to start applying for your first job, look for a company that specializes in sustainability in terms of how they market themselves and what services they provide. One of the main reasons I chose Brendle Group was because we exclusively offer sustainability services in five focus areas – energy, water, climate, planning, and buildings. As global attention and government support for sustainable development continues to increase, opportunities for sustainability focused careers will become more numerous. For example, just this past year all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which highlighted 17 updated Sustainable Development Goals. And, at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, also known as COP21, participating nations were able to negotiate a global agreement for the reduction of climate change. Momentous efforts such as these make it an exciting time for leading edge and innovative companies such as Brendle Group to continue to play an important role in the evolving world of sustainability.
About the Author — Tyler helps assess opportunities for building energy, water, and material efficiency. His research experience in sustainable building systems design, operation, and material performance enables him to help implement leading-edge sustainable design strategies. Additionally, his background working with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the Method of Maximizing Exergy (MAXergy), and the Embodied Land Tool support Brendle Group’s growing capabilities in sustainability analysis systems and tools.
Tyler holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Iowa State University and a Master of Science degree in Engineering Sustainable Built Environments from the University of Minho in Portugal. While obtaining his master’s degree, Tyler studied the technical performance, aesthetic, and cultural aspects of sustainable building design and focused on the benefits of using bio-based building materials.