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A day in the life of…
Graduate Sustainability and Carbon Consultant at GHD
Lauren Harrington studied a Bachelor of Science (Adv) (Hons I) majoring in Geology and Geophysics, and is now a Graduate Sustainability and Carbon Consultant at GHD.
Rise and shine – living an hour away from the city means an early start to the day! But a good morning routine consisting of a pre-selected work outfit, take-away tea and a pre-downloaded Netflix episode makes the train trip fly by.
A good start to the day is never complete without breakfast, and by the time I get to my desk I’m starving! Whilst waiting for my toast to pop I enjoy morning chats with co-workers, exchanging weekend stories or plans for the next.
I ease myself into the working day by checking emails and writing a detailed to-do list. Nothing is better than the feeling of progress throughout the day, so I always make sure to consolidate my list on a daily basis with defined and achievable tasks.
As a Graduate Sustainability and Carbon Consultant my work is varied and interesting. I work across two main fields assisting my Senior Consultants in Infrastructure Sustainability projects as well as in Energy and Carbon accounting and reporting. I like to start my day with the latter, as this work is highly quantitative involving energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions calculations which my brain is more equipped for in the morning.
Before I start, the job manager and I typically sit down to ensure we are on the same wavelength. After a kick-off workshop for the project the day before, we both know the key steps forward involve data validation and analysis, usually of fuel consumption or electricity usage data. At GHD, we are fortunate to have the perfect combination of guidance and independence, so after a brief discussion on the steps forward, I am confident in my ability to perform the required analysis.
Before my 11 am meeting, I consolidate my work by sending a summary email to my job manager. At GHD we place a high value on quality control so all the work we do is checked and double checked to ensure we are on track to deliver exactly what the client asked for.
Graduates at GHD are given many opportunities to develop their professional network, none better than through the Young Professional (YP) group. As a YP committee member, attendance at committee meetings allows me to be involved in planning a range of events and activities, including networking nights with our clients, internal debates between YPs, and senior management to community engagement initiatives.
Lunchtime! I enjoy nothing more than to give my mind a mid-day reprieve by going for a city jog with the GHD Running Club. One of the many benefits of working in the city is the unbeatable scenery, including the Botanical Gardens and Sydney Harbour. Even on stressful days, a jog like this with like-minded colleagues is always sure to perk me up!
Rejuvenated after an active lunch break, I like to switch to our team’s other main field of work – infrastructure sustainability. This line of work involves helping infrastructure projects achieve the best environmental, economic and social outcomes across the design, construction or operation of the asset. We work on a diverse range of infrastructure projects including transport, energy and water facilities and evaluate the assets against sustainability ratings such as Green Star and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s rating tool, which reward performance against benchmarks.
This line of work requires a good understanding of both the design side of a project as well as the environmental assessment side. Reading through design reports and environmental studies provides me with a good overview, but I find the best way to understand the project is through face-to-face discussions with design leads and environmental technical specialists.
Time to stretch my legs and head to the project office for a meeting with the design team. One of the benefits of working on large infrastructure projects is that I get to be a part of joint ventures where multiple engineering and consulting firms work together to complete a job. This provides me with more opportunities to network and learn from others in my field.
I have been looking forward to the meeting with the design team all day! This is where my sustainability colleagues and I get to have a real influence on design, which is undoubtedly the best part of my job.
The meeting usually begins with a briefing on infrastructure sustainability, which because of the responsibility GHD graduates are entrusted with, I often get to deliver. The rest of the meeting involves discussions on where the asset can achieve sustainable outcomes whether that be by choosing an environmentally friendly concrete mix, installing solar panels and rain tanks on site facilities or by allowing community involvement on negotiable design decisions. The sustainability opportunities are endless and our job is to maximise those wherever we can.
By this time of the afternoon, I am craving a caffeine hit! On my way back to the office I stop by the local and pick up my usual skim flat white. With my trusty coffee and a cheeky chocolate bar (it’s fine right – I went for a run!) my productivity for the afternoon is sure to be high.
Back in the office, I like to consolidate my notes from my meeting and send out a few summary emails to ensure I am on the same page as my colleagues and the client. I usually archive these to ensure a record is kept of findings and decisions.
My discussion with the design team has allowed me to update my ongoing sustainability assessment of the project, so I spend the rest of the afternoon documenting evidence for the rating and drafting the relevant sections of our report.
Before leaving the office for the day, I always make sure to track my billable work. This is a key aspect to consulting that encourages efficiency, transparency and a happy client. With fewer people in the office at this time, I also use this time to reflect on the tasks achieved for the day before heading off to catch up with friends or family for an evening drink or dinner in the city.
After prepping for the next day, I relax for the evening by sitting on the couch with my family and laughing at the latest reality TV show or winding down with a good book and a cup of tea.
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