Deep Dive, Energy, ESG, Sustainability, Sustainable Legacies

Our Deep Dive series features our technical experts who give you an inside look at how we are solving complex infrastructure challenges for our clients from across the world.

This week, we are highlighting Garima Kaushal, sustainability consultant from our Buildings + Places business line in the New York Metro region, and how she and her team are using their skills to help Siemens Energy achieve their sustainability, decarbonization and ESG goals.

The project is in its execution phase that is divided into three stages with over a hundred sites across North America and Latin America, covering about two hundred buildings with over 10 million square feet of built area.

Currently, the project is in Stage 1, which includes one-fourth of the project site locations comprising of about one hundred buildings with over 6 million square feet of built area across Canada, U.S., Mexico and Brazil.

The project is divided into four phases: property condition assessments, a decarbonization roadmap, a sustainability certification assessment of portfolio, and lastly, a digital dashboard for data management. As we work through our process, we’re providing input, measuring, and driving this plan and our client’s success in achieving their carbon neutrality goals.

Tell us about a project that has impacted or been a major highlight of your career. How is it delivering a better world?

One of my recent projects is shaping how Siemens Energy—a global leader in energy technology—will achieve its environmental goals. Siemens Energy has an immense scope, delivering renewable energy, grid technology, and other energy services across several continents. By guiding a company already leading the energy transition toward decarbonization, this work is making a significant impact.

We proposed an approach that meets Siemens Energy’s need for clear and actionable pathways to energy efficiency, GHG emissions reductions and climate neutrality. We approached their identified phases to organize our team and our response, by assigning a lead for each phase of the project.

The first phase, the property condition assessment (PCA), was led by Scott Dunbar from AECOM Energy. This phase carries out condition assessments of the facilities of Siemens Energy’s real property assets and provides recommendations for return of those assets to states of good repair.

Phase two delivered a decarbonization roadmap, and was led by Chris Bibby, also from AECOM Energy. It includes an energy assessment, in tandem with the PCA to determine opportunities to save energy, reduce utility costs, decarbonize operations and develop a living model to meet changing demands and conditions over life cycle of the assets such as solar PVs, LED lighting, variable frequency drivers on hydronic pumps, etc.

I was responsible for the third phase, where I led a high-level review of different sustainability rating systems such as LEED, BREEAM, WELL, and Fitwel to establish the most relevant rating system for each facility based on building typology, facility location, and alignment with Siemens Energy’s sustainability commitments while focusing on their employee health and well-being.

This work includes recommendations to reduce toxic emissions, environmental pollution, and natural resource conservation measures with focus particularly on energy use reduction, healthy materials selection, indoor environmental quality, and water conservation.

It also involves identification of potential improvement opportunities and solutions focused on employee well-being for Siemens Energy’s office locations at the organizational HR policy level; as well as a building type and location level such as providing subsidized health club memberships, mental health services, promoting vaccines, providing subsidized public transit options, green purchasing policy, implementation of an emergency preparedness plan and developing a plan for healthy re-entry after COVID.

The occupant health and wellbeing review is undertaken using the WELL Health Safety Standard and Fitwel, which are performance-based sustainability rating systems focused on human health and well-being and the built environment.

The final phase of the plan, digitalization, will provide a software output that includes an internet-accessible facility condition database and sustainability dashboard. This dashboard-based reporting output allows readily accessible visualization of the data and recommendations for further action to manage, plan and budget for real property assets, decarbonization, and examine options for sustainability certifications.

The project has expanded since initiation to include the design of roof top, ground mount and covered parking photovoltaic cells for manufacturing plants, offices, and warehouse facilities. 

What was a key challenge you/your team faced while working on this project? How did you solve it?

We are providing proprietary software tools and resources for the project, including PlanSpend—Digital AECOM’s funding allocation tool—to gather facility data along with Rosetta and Ocean for carbon calculation and reduction, greatly speeding up the reporting process and accuracy.

One of the challenges we faced in the project was how to most efficiently design the dashboard to utilize the three purpose-built software systems to collect, evaluate and report asset conditions, energy management, and serve as a tool for ESG planning and identify projects most suitable for sustainability certifications. This project required extensive data research due to the limited availability of the existing site condition documents.

Another challenge was the extremely condensed review periods and tight deadlines with loads of data to process for sustainability reviews. Our Enterprise Capabilities (EC) team was extremely helpful here to support me to process the data much more efficiently and provide quality deliverables at the designated milestones.

Working with the offshore EC team across time zones has its own challenges but we were able to accomplish all tasks by making our daily schedule more flexible and having daily team check-ins.

How has AECOM enabled you and your teams to cultivate the expertise needed to deliver the project—and future work like it?

This project has provided a great opportunity for me to develop project management skills and generate efficiencies while assessing the breadth of projects. Due to its scale, I was also able to source the best talent across AECOM Building + Places business in the U.S. and work with the offshore Enterprise Capabilities team to provide mentorship to architects, sustainability consultants and engineers to enhance their sustainable design assessment skills and present the collected data in a visual format for our dashboard. The project has also been transformative for the business, developing our expertise and bolstering our leadership in the growing spaces of sustainability, decarbonization, digitalization and ESG goals.

Deploying a collaborative team comprising of building construction, architecture, energy use and IT subject matter experts to gather and present the outcomes of the studies has further empowered Siemens Energy’s decision makers and managers now, and into the future.

This project is a 2022 winner of Environmental Business Journal’s Information Technology Award for Carbon Emission Reduction.

Want to learn more about the project? Follow the links below to dive deeper:

  1. 2022 EBJ Business Achievement Awards (
Originally published Apr 13, 2023

Author: Garima Kaushal