Jaz Rabadia MBE is the energy, sustainability and social impact director at WeWork. A Chartered Energy Manager, Jaz is a degree qualified mechanical engineer with over ten years’ experience in retail energy and sustainability management. In 2015, Jaz was awarded an MBE for services to the energy industry and promoting diversity in STEM.
“Diversity of thought is critical when addressing today’s energy and sustainability challenges, and also helping to provide solutions for the future. As sustainability is something that impacts us all, the more representation, diversity and inclusion there is within the sustainability world, the stronger the progress is likely to be.”
Over a decade helping energy saving
I have worked in energy and sustainability management roles for over a decade and, in 2015, was awarded a Royal Honours, an MBE, for encouraging more young people to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and for my services to the energy sector.
In the past ten years, I’ve helped some huge brands such as Sainsbury’s, Debenhams, Starbucks, and most recently WeWork to help them save energy and reduce their environmental footprint.
Driving energy efficiency and delivering social value
WeWork creates environments where people and companies come together and do their best work. It is a global workplace provider committed to delivering flexible solutions, inspiring, safety-focused spaces, and unmatched community experiences.
In my role at WeWork, I’m responsible for driving energy efficiency and optimisation, minimising the impact our building operations have on the environment, and delivering social value through our impact programme.
With such a varied scope, every day is different and that is what is so enjoyable about the role.
There’s no such thing as a typical day, but a typical week could involve visiting some of our incredible buildings to help identify areas of energy efficiency opportunities, engaging with other department heads such as supply chain, operations and finance to integrate sustainable thinking across the business and working with charity partners to support underserved communities with workspace and mentoring opportunities.
Impact of COVID-19 on sustainability
COVID-19 has had wide-reaching impacts on businesses and people across the globe. It has forced many organisations to review all aspects of their strategy and operations and re-evaluate their risks, sustainability being one of these.
It has accelerated interest in environmental issues and has demonstrated how quickly the world can change overnight as a result of an environmental crisis.
What will be interesting to see in the coming year is how organisations will respond and recover from the pandemic and the impact COVID-19 will have on their appetite for sustainability.
We could see environmental social governance (ESG) rocket to the top of corporate agendas to help build business resilience or we could see sustainability be put on the back burner as organisations are forced to think shorter term whilst trying to navigate through the economic impact COVID-19 has left them in.
A little closer to home though, people have felt the benefits of emission and air pollution reduction with fewer cars on the roads and planes in the sky, but contrastingly there has been a visible increase in demand for single-use plastic items such as face masks, plastics for takeaways and increasing personal protective equipment (PPE).
We can all contribute to a more sustainable society
Often thinking of the challenges the world is currently facing with regards to climate change and sustainability can feel overwhelming. There is so much to do, and we are often reminded of how little time we have to get this right.
However, more and more people are waking up to the need to take action to preserve our planet. In today’s world, thanks to the likes of David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg and movements such as Extinction Rebellion, issues surrounding sustainability, energy and the environment have a much higher public profile and so engaging people is easier than it’s ever been.
The biggest challenge we are facing is that we consume more resources than the planet has to offer! But, if each of us as individuals takes accountability for our actions and pledges to make small changes to our day-to-day lives, we can help to make such a difference.
Whether that is eating less meat, switching off devices when not in use, reducing our plastic use, opting to walk, cycle or use public transport, switching to renewable energy or simply sourcing food more locally, we can contribute to a more sustainable society.
Diversity equals strength when it comes to energy and sustainability
Diversity of thought is critical when addressing today’s energy and sustainability challenges, and also helping to provide solutions for the future. As sustainability is something that impacts us all, the more representation, diversity and inclusion there is within the sustainability world, the stronger the progress is likely to be.
The beauty of the sustainability sector is that it attracts people from all walks of life – there is no defined route to sustainability, it is a collective of professionals from various backgrounds including compliance, engineering, marketing and technology to name a few. This allows practitioners to come together to solve some of the most complex environmental issues facing the world.
Energy is all around us
Virtually every single thing we do is only possible because of the energy that’s powering it. The food we buy, the buildings that house us, the Wi-Fi that connects us … we take energy for granted and the more people we can encourage into the energy sector, the safer, healthier, smarter and more sustainable the world will hopefully become.
My advice to those interested in the sector would be to understand and keep up to date with the latest energy news (I love reading Energy Live News). This will give those thinking about joining the industry a good understanding of what the industry is working on and what new innovations are coming down the line.
I’m most looking forward to continuing my work in supporting companies to implement long term sustainability strategies and helping them to thrive in a post-pandemic world.