Buildings Energy & Emissions

Railesha Tiwari, WashU’s Own Green Buildings Expert

Campus Next is a WashU channel intended to inform the community about campus physical changes. A few weeks ago, Campus Next led an exclusive interview with Railesha Tiwari, first Sustainable Design and Construction Project Manager at WashU, about her unique role and impact on new construction and renovation projects.

The article can be found here.

The Office of Sustainability, of which Railesha is a team member, is proud to share some bonus content that wasn’t featured in the Campus Next article. Thanks to Leslie McCarthy, Executive News Editor at the Source, for leading the interview and allowing us to publish this additional content.



What are your primary responsibilities?

They are twofold – one is to evaluate our current sustainability goals and refine or set new goals as deemed necessary in order to deliver better performing facilities, and second is to explore the possibility to bring LEED and other green building certification efforts in-house. When I took on this role, the first thing I did was simply take a step back to first learn how our current processes worked. This involved a lot of one-on-one interviews with Project Managers (PMs) and Directors, learning and understanding what their challenges are. My goal is to define new processes to fill gaps, improve on areas of opportunities, and not to change the systems and processes that are working great.

What are the next main goals for sustainability in campus buildings?

One of the important new steps towards our commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is the goal to pursue LEED Commercial Interiors certification for renovation projects. In addition to pursuing LEED certification for our new construction projects, renovating our existing buildings allows us the ability to reprogram or upgrade spaces for current needs while improving thermal comfort and making them more energy efficient. Since I oversee all the sustainability related efforts on all projects, we have the unique advantage to implement lessons learned across multiple projects and streamline processes.

What’s your role on the East End project?

We are currently in the construction phase of the East End project and as you have noted there is a lot of work going on. While the PMs are there on-site day in and day out overseeing the construction efforts, I manage the sustainability efforts of the project. This involves LEED management and coordination efforts, connecting with all the stakeholders on a regular basis to ensure design and construction efforts are meeting our sustainability goals. My role on the East End is to ensure that the project is on track from a bird’s eye view perspective as well as day-to-day task-oriented deliverables. In addition, I am always looking for opportunities to make processes more efficient.

McKelvey Hall is the latest new addition to the East Campus: Can you tell us more about your involvement with this project?

This project is still in the design phase. One of the new sustainability efforts we have implemented on this project is to conduct a series of sustainability charrettes to set project-specific goals and performance metrics above and beyond meeting the LEED Silver minimum certification. The sustainability charrettes are the venue to question things like, “Why not do this?” “Can we go beyond LEED?” “Is this a Living Building challenge project?” We think about everything, basically – what’s the very best we could do? And then we walk back and look at it all again, and say, “OK, what is really doable?” “Why should or shouldn’t we do this?” It is an all-day effort where all the key stakeholders get together and brainstorm the appropriate goals for the project and define relevant design strategies.

The charrettes have been a great success and we have received positive feedback from all stakeholders. It is an integrated process that brings together the PMs, people from utilities, maintenance, the entire project team, contractors, furniture and design — all the key stakeholders, thinking sustainability from Day 1.