Gensler Sustainability Discussion with Maria Perez

Maria Perez is a Senior Associate and Director of Sustainable Design for Gensler, an integrated architecture, design, planning and consulting firm of 5,000+ professionals networked across 46 global offices. In this role, she serves as one of the firm’s leading sustainability ambassadors and promoters, engaging staff, clients, and the public on innovative and sustainable design, construction, and operational thinking.

A recognized expert in LEED standards and sustainability rating systems, Maria is a leading advocate for performance-based design. Maria is a licensed architect in Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from ITESM, Monterrey, Mexico and a Master of Science in Architecture from the University of Houston. In 2015, she was named a LEED Fellow for her exemplary leadership, impactful commitment, service, and advocacy in green building and sustainability. She is an Accredited Professional in multiple credentials including Building Design(BD+C), Interior Design(ID+C), Operations and Maintenance(O&M), Neighborhood Development(ND) and WELL. Maria is currently serving in the GBCI Credentialing Steering Committee and USGBC Texas Chapter Board of Directors.

Maria Perez – Cultural Impact on Future

Maria was born in Mexico City and grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico.  She was influenced at a young age by the three, distinct people groups within her hometown –  the Tarahumara Indians, the Mennonites and the Mexicans.  Each different in their own culture and lifestyle, the Indians lived without electricity in their homes made of stone or adobe, the Mennonites produced their own energy, made their own clothes, and did not use anything civilized and lastly, the Mexican culture seemed more wasteful, taking many of their natural resources for granted. As a child, Maria began questioning these varying lifestyles and knew she wanted to help find a balance.

“I decided in high school I wanted to be an architect to design buildings that reduce environmental impact.” – Maria Perez

Influenced in Sustainability

A few years into her career in Monterrey, Mexico, Maria and her husband applied to several Masters programs across the United States. Upon both her and her husband’s acceptance to the University of Houston, they relocated their family and she began her Masters of Architecture with a focus on historic buildings and adaptive reuse. Following graduation, Maria accepted a job in Gensler’s Houston office, where has worked on everything related to sustainable design for the last 18 years.

We need buildings that do more and use less” – Maria Perez

The 3 B’s

Maria strongly believes that three design principals could help solve our biggest challenges related to sustainability and climate change:  1) Biomimicry, which deals with nature. 2) Biophilia, human connection with nature and 3) Bioclimatic Design, where all buildings in their local environment look the same.  Focusing on these three B’s could satisfy the pressing need for resilient communities and to build them with limited resources in the face of shrinking materials, energy and water supplies.

“If I ever write a book, I will write about the 3 principles of  sustainable design “biomimicry, biophilia and bioclimatic design”– Maria Perez

Greatest Skill

Maria embraces change and would argue it is one of her greatest skills.  Once she is comfortable with a certain task, she tends to find another to learn. Being passionate about learning and exploring change allows her to pursue just about anything in her professional and personal life.

Change always brings new opportunities.” – Maria Perez

Book Suggestions:

Drawdown by Paul Hawken

Advice

Maria’s favorite quote is “Everything we imagine is real.”  Pabla Picasso

Never say no, keep pushing if you think it is for the greater good.

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