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Seema Bhangar

Principal, Healthy Buildings and Communities
US Green Building Council (USGBC)
Oakland, CA, USA
LinkedIn Profile
Areas of Expertise
Device Layer: IAQ

What kinds of projects are you working on?

I will start working at the US Green Building Council in April. In the meantime, while between jobs, I have continued to serve on a National Academies expert committee that is reviewing the state of science on health risks of indoor exposures to fine particulate matter and practical mitigation solutions; and helping to organize ISIAQ’s Indoor Air 2024 conference through my position on the board of the Indoor Air Institute, an independent nonprofit.

What are you excited about in the industry?

I’m happy to see the industry starting to take seriously a few things that have been at the forefront of my mind for some time. One is the importance of humans. We are finally talking about who needs to act and how, and why they would or should act, and this is critical for a shift from theoretical to actual implementation. A second is the attention to the level of integration and coordination among systems that is needed for uptake - and ongoing maintenance and use - to be viable at scale in commercial real estate. Finally, thrilled to see health and wellbeing starting to achieve the status of table-stakes within real estate management and sustainability.

What do you think needs to change in the industry?

In the Healthy Buildings world, too much is said and done for show. Brand and marketing, competitiveness, and responsiveness to consumer desires and fears, are legitimate drivers. But I want the sustainability industry to leverage these drivers strategically, instead of letting them run the show, to avoid issues that impede progress toward our shared climate and health goals, such as: Building owners and managers less likely to share negative results, or to honestly disclose roadblocks and concerns; Less effective technologies selected because they are more visible, or perceived as more sexy; Delays implementing measures that are foundational but not an immediate pain or opportunity point.

What do you wish we all discussed more?

The conversations I find most interesting are the ones that happen less formally, or off the record; when networks of trust or reciprocity enable a temporary bypass of the imperative to hold up an image, represent an initiative within strictly prescribed constraints, or to avoid saying something wrong by expressing thoughts-in-progress. This is true of discussions with scientists, consultants, building owner and operator groups, and technology developers and vendors.

What’s your hot take?  

🔥 I want us to address smart buildings in an intersectional context. The whole person, team, or organization engaged in acquiring, designing, operating, or using a building has priorities and concerns beyond building tech. I know the value of advocating for and within the boundaries of a single issue. I know that smart buildings as the container is already heterogeneous and complex. And I appreciate that opening the conversation to other problems or opportunities can become a path through which nothing happens. So I know this is tricky. But my favorite forums are, nevertheless, the ones where there is willingness to consider the priorities of a population or stakeholder group in the widest context.  🔥

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