Meet Ilka Cassidy, she is a Certified Passive House Consultant. Her company is Holzraum System, specializes in high performance, low carbon buildings which not only address operational but also embodied carbon by using natural building materials. She is a modern day inventor in construction with a different approach to building with an impact.
What attracted you to your role/position?
Starting a business that specializes in high performance, low carbon buildings which not only address operational but also embodied carbon by using natural building materials was very exciting and exactly what I wanted to do. Reaching this goal by interconnecting prefabrication, virtual modeling and software development is a path that promised forward thinking and innovative work that could actually have an impact on sustainable building practices. Each of us three (Holzraum) partners has a role/ position that is based on our unique backgrounds and skills. I like that our company could not be what it is without either one of us.
What are your goals for the next 24 months?
Lots of hiking and camping. Being excited about our work which includes amazing Passive House projects across the country and continued software development that promotes visual communication to make sustainable projects more successful. I like my involvement with the Passive House Accelerator Podcast where we get to highlight and talk to amazing women in the Passive House Community. I hope to inspire more women to take charge in the AEC industry this way.
How will this company impact others?
We all have to think about how to scale up sustainable building practices and how to make it more accessible. We (Holzraum) believe that by incorporating new building technologies and bridging the gap between the design/ build team and the offsite manufacturer, we are getting closer to this goal. From our perspective, a successful low carbon building project requires working as a strong team across disciplines which contradicts the traditional siloed approach. The AEC community needs to shift their mindset to be more fluid and our integrated coordination and visual communication process facilitates that conversation.
What would you say to other women in construction about breaking the glass ceiling?
Support each other, work as a team, not competitors. Draw on your strengths even, or especially if they are different from your male coworkers’. Women/ diversity in general, bring a fresh perspective and approach to the table that lead to innovation and a different way of problem solving. To see, respect and encourage new ways of thinking, there must be more women/ diversity in the industry, particularly in leading roles and as mentors. Setting up a safe, equal, and inclusive environment in the AEC industry needs to start in elementary school.
What motivates you?
I like what I do, I feel like an inventor every day. What motivates me is to be representing women in a male dominated industry and creating awareness in my three teenage daughters that lack of diversity has to be challenged. It is important that women show up and move the needle towards teams that are inclusive and balanced. Sometimes I join meetings or presentations just to fill at least one zoom window with a female participant. I feel that this is an important contribution.
Do you have a quote, spiritual practice or inspiration that guides you forward?
A bad attitude is like a flat tire. (Coach Katie/ audio running program)
Tell us about one of your wins or victories.
Apparently, I am cool enough to be my 26-year-old niece’s role model.