Engineering a Circular Economy in the Built Environment

The construction industry is highly extractive and uses enormous volumes of natural resources. The sector accounts for 40 percent global raw material use and 25 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, estimates suggest climate change could push an additional 100 million people into poverty by 2030. This requires proactive thinking on the design and delivery of housing products and services, especially to people in low- and middle-income countries.

Our homes and businesses offer vast potential for reducing the impact of the built environment. Through creative engineering and design, organizations around the world can drive circular economies for a more sustainable future.

Join us as we present a round table with experts in sustainable engineering and design. Up for discussion, circular economies and the built environment in the Global South. This work advances the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda in the run-up to 2030.

On the agenda:

  • The need for a systems perspective on sustainability in housing and other infrastructure
  • An introduction to the concept of circularity to vulnerable populations, and how they can benefit
  • The unique role engineers take in the development of a circular economy
  • How engineering professions are converging toward interdisciplinary collaboration to achieve the SDGs, exemplified by World Engineering Day
  • Insight into innovation in mechanical, materials and structural engineering, Internet and communications technology and 3D design tools improving the sustainability of construction and the places where we live.


Cristina Contreras is a Research Associate at the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University. Her research focuses on promoting sustainable practices in infrastructure projects on a global scale, and examining the challenges and opportunities that sustainability can provide to countries and companies. During the last six years at Harvard, she has worked in research projects ranging from the coordination and supervision of the Infrastructure 360º Awards to identification of the economic implications of sustainability practice in infrastructure projects. As part of the Infrastructure 360 awards team, an initiative sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank, Cristina has worked in quantifying infrastructure sustainability in more than 40 projects (water and sanitation, transportation and energy) in 12 countries. She also works as an independent consultant for International Financial Institutions to help define a common framework for sustainable infrastructures. Before working with Harvard, Ms. Contreras served as Technical Architect practitioner in the construction of large-scale projects with a Spanish construction company, and as a freelance quantity surveyor. She has presented her work on assessing sustainable infrastructure at several international conferences and was a lecturer in the School of Civil Engineers at Polytechnic University of Madrid and instructor on the Harvard Executive Education. Ms. Contreras is an accredited Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP), and a certified Envision trainer as well as CEEQUAL Project Assessor.

Nzambi Matee is the Founder and CEO of Gjenge Makers Ltd, a social enterprise that upcycles plastic waste into paving and building blocks. Gjenge collects recyclables from households and institutions and converts plastic bottles into construction materials. Before launching the venture, Ms. Matee worked as a data analyst for the National Oil Corporation of Kenya, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Juja (Kenya).

Patrick Kelley leads Habitat for Humanity International’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. The Terwilliger Center works to develop market-based solutions for improved and affordable housing by strengthening affordable housing value chains, stimulating innovation and enterprise solutions for shelter, mobilizing investment capital to move housing solutions to scale, and leading research and thought leadership that influence more vibrant and resilient housing markets. The Terwilliger Center’s initiatives include the MicroBuild Fund – a (USD) $100 million impact capital fund for innovative housing finance, the ShelterTech accelerator to nurture early-stage companies bringing innovation to affordable housing and the Shelter Venture Capital Fund. Mr. Kelley is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and has a master’s degree from Princeton University in Economic Public Policy and International Development. He is on the board of directors for the SEEP network, EarthEnable, MicroBuild India, and teaches a course Inclusive Markets at Emory University’s Laney Graduate School. He is based in Atlanta with his wife Melissa and their two children.

Rick Bohan is Senior Vice President, Sustainability for the Portland Cement Association and coordinates all of PCA’s sustainability related activities including the development and delivery of PCA’s Roadmap to carbon neutrality and its ongoing implementation. He was previously Senior Director of Research and Technology at PCA. He’s an editor and chapter author of PCA’s 2-volume book, Innovations in Portland Cement Manufacturing along with many other publications. Rick has nearly thirty years of experience in research and technology in both cement manufacturing and concrete materials. He is a Fellow of the American Concrete Institute, and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc. Before his tenure at PCA, Rick worked in consulting engineering and served on active duty as both an enlisted Marine and a commissioned Marine officer. He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from Olivet Nazarene University. Rick is also a registered professional engineer.

Karen Ohland has been selected to become the 141st president of ASME and will serve during the 2022-2023 term of office. She is a Fellow of ASME and has been an active member of the Society since 1983. Karen is the Associate Director for Finance and Operations at the Princeton University Art Museum where she provides strategic leadership, strengthening and sustaining the process for planning and management. Prior to her career in museum administration, Karen worked as a biomedical engineer in industry, academia, and government; most recently as research manager for Howmedica Inc., an orthopedic implant manufacturer. She has held several positions at ASME including service on the ASME Board of Governors. Karen is a recipient of the ASME Dedicated Service Award. She is a member of the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, the American Society of Engineering Education, the Orthopedic Research Society, and the American Society of Biomechanics. She received a bachelor’s degree in engineering and biology from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in anatomy from the University of Chicago.

Martín Ignacio del Pino is an Industrial Engineer of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since its early stage he has focused his career in Project Management for Sustainable Development with specific interest in sustainable cities and sustainable energy in developing countries. He has worked in multidisciplinary and multicultural projects in the fields of housing, urbanism, energy, water, and education. He completed a MSc in Sustainability Technologies and dreams to work in high social impact projects in Latinamerica and Africa in 2021. And currently works as Senior Associate en


Iana Aranda is the Director of the Engineering for Global Development at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). At ASME, Iana sets the business strategy of a portfolio of programs and platforms that advance knowledge, workforce and hardware-led social innovation to improve the quality of life of underserved communities. Iana also serves as the President of Engineering for Change – a knowledge organization and global community of over 1 million individuals dedicated to design and delivery of essential technologies advancing sustainable development.

Carolina Rojas is pursuing her B.Sc in Mechanical Engineering and works as a Research and Administrative Assistant at the Fab Lab in Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá and as Program Coordinator at Engineering for Change. She has three years of experience working and volunteering in the global development sector for Engineering for Change and Panama Flying Labs. Carolina contributes to sustainable development efforts both through engineering and science policy, she is an advocate for the democratization of fabrication technologies and the use of robotics for social good and participates in science policy efforts in Latin America. She is currently involved in projects that aim to create bridges between people and manufacturing technologies to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable communities in Panama to develop local solutions to waste challenges by creating eco-products and green entrepreneurship initiatives. Carolina also serves as Technology Focal Point for the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, Public Policy Liaison for IEEE Entrepreneurship and as a member of the board of directors of Bridges for Science, a Latin-American initiative focused on bridging policy and science with the goal of promoting evidence-based policymaking. Her ultimate goal as a professional is to develop projects where access to appropriate technology is considered a catalyst for the socio-economic growth of communities and specifically of people living in poverty. Carolina is currently a coordinator for the E4C Fellowship program.

Comments from the Community


  1. gene3674 says:

    I want to join the activity

  2. pacesetter says:

    Community development

  3. natalie says:

    Will this be available to view afterwards?

  4. Rob Goodier says:

    Yes, please check back here a couple of days after the webinar and there should be a video available.

  5. arnab.roy.ext says:

    I am interested to attend the webinar

  6. d.rodriguez.ortiz09 says:

    Will the recording be on YouTube?

  7. Rob Goodier says:

    Hi, it is on youtube and it should also be embedded at the top of this page.

  8. ephraimziktana35 says:

    Will it be on YouTube? I’m interested to attend

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