People Profiles

Rebecca Holt, MUrb, Urban Studies

December 04, 2015
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Rebecca Holt helps cities see the big picture.

Holt is a Senior Sustainable Building Advisor and Researcher at Perkins+Will, a leading-edge global design firm. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies from SFU in 2007.

Working in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team, Holt applies a holistic approach to examine how our buildings, systems and ultimately our cities work. This approach involves examining everything from energy usage to public transit access patterns in order to identify synergies and opportunities for higher performance within any given building project. 

“In order to understand the social, environmental and economic impacts of the built environment, we need to be able to quantify and be accountable for our designs. My job is to do that in a way that incorporates a multitude of perspectives,” she says.  

As well, Holt helps to foster innovation in design and construction by leading industry studies, such as the Tall Wood Buildings Surveying the Innovaters. The study was dedicated to consolidating lessons and performance advantages of using wood as a building material for tall structures, drawing from leading examples and stakeholder groups around the world.  

“Wood used as structure not only sequesters carbon, reducing a building’s ecological footprint, but also reflects the local vernacular of BC’s built environment and is an important part of our local economy,” she says.

Holt credits her SFU graduate degree for helping her develop the dynamic, cross-disciplinary approach that is central to her practice in sustainable design.

“In this field, we are always interested in how things work together and in the opportunities to be leveraged at the intersections. My degree gave me the freedom to explore the questions that help me find those cross-over points: Who are the stakeholders? What is the social system at play? What are the cultural values?”  

Just as valuable as the course work for her degree, explains Holt, were the other students she earned it alongside. “My program attracted diverse people—artists, political scientists, engineers, and many others. The ability to recognize and highlight value through multiple perspectives is a key part in the work I do now,” she says.

Author: Jackie Amsden

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