Cycling to life cycle assessment

"Should you want to make a difference in the world, do not fear to start over."

UBC MEL student Ezgi Yuruk smiles at the camera. She is centred with trees behind her.

Ezgi Yuruk H.

  • Degree: Master of Engineering Leadership
  • Grad year: 2022
  • Program: High Performance Buildings

Hi, Ezgi here! Since the last years of my undergraduate studies at Istanbul Technical University, I have been working in different fields of architecture to raise an overall understanding of the architectural praxis in diverse international settings, including Turkey, Slovenia, the US, and Algeria. I gained various practical skills in the fields of digital fabrication technologies when I was working for the mockup studio Küçük Atölye in Istanbul, where I had invaluable opportunities to experiment on the interdependency of architecture, its representation, and its communication among the various parties. In 2013 and 2014, I worked on the documentation of the Greek and Roman relics with the aid of photogrammetry for the archaeological excavations of Laodikeia in Denizli, Turkey. I collaborated on-site and among the teams of different disciplines, including archaeology, art history, and architecture for the survey of the relics. In Fall 2014, I assisted Slovenian architect Špela Videcnik of Ofis Arhitekti while she was directing the architectural design studio “Housing in Extreme Environments: Alpine Shelter” at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Then the sirocco blew me to different Saharan cities in Algeria, working on construction sites, building my career from a site architect to design office chief. Just when I decided to take a year off my career and steer it to sustainable architecture and construction, a pandemic hit the world.

Why did you choose to go into your field of study at UBC?

For the past 5-6 years, my work was primarily based in Algeria, building military hospital projects. During my time on several construction sites, I have realized that the construction industry is one of the most contributors to waste and an extremely large source of energy emissions. I want to find ways to improve that and help create sustainable versions of buildings, but I did not want to stay away from my professional career for long. This was when I found the perfect match – a professional degree at UBC in High Performance Buildings that is only a year long. You won’t find anything else of this quality in this short period of time. Make no mistake! It is a short master’s, but it is zipped and extremely demanding. Yet, it takes only one year out of your professional career, and you learn so much in the program.

What has made your time at UBC memorable?

I ran away from the desert, dreaming of developing a career in sustainable buildings and finally living a life that was not surrounded by dunes and going to cafes, restaurants, and concerts. But right after I applied for UBC, the Covid-19 pandemic happened! Then I got accepted to the UBC, but the program had to be delivered online. I still managed to come to Canada. Therefore, the first part of my dream came true. I started learning about waste reduction, energy savings, renewable energy systems, and resilient buildings, but I had to do it all at home. Studying at home, meeting my classmates (on Zoom), delivering group projects, being accepted to the scholar’s program, and working and studying simultaneously was very challenging for sure, but it also made my time at UBC an unforgettable experience.

UBC MEL student Ezgi Yuruk in the desert.

How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?

I was lucky enough to land a job even before starting the third and the last term of my studies in September 2021. I am now working as a sustainability analyst at Integral Group, which provides building system design and energy analysis services to clients in North America, Europe, and Australia. As a junior sustainability analyst with the firm, my work focuses on whole-building life-cycle assessment and calculating the embodied carbon in construction projects to ensure compliance with building certifications and codes. So basically, what I do is advise designers, engineers, and clients on how to build with less carbon-intensive and more sustainable materials.

What advice would you give a student entering your degree program?

My advice to the new students would be to do all the readings in time (be prepared, there is a lot!) and network, network, network.

That one year will fly by without you even noticing it. Make the best of it by getting to know your classmates that are all professionals in their field and keep in touch with the industry contacts that UBC is doing a great job bringing to you.

What are some contributions you would like to make when it comes to the future of work in your field?

As the building technologies evolve and the number of academic studies on Life Cycle Assessments increases, I want to lead the construction industry to build more sustainable and resilient buildings by making deliberate material choices, reducing the embodied and operational carbon, and being prepared for the future. Our climate is changing rapidly, and we – architects, builders, and engineers can make a difference through collaboration and hard work.

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