Take Action: How Everyone Can Help Advance Gender Equity in the Building Industry – Roundtable, Part 1

To mark Women’s History Month, we wanted to get firsthand perspectives from women in the building industry. We invited Michelle DeCarlo of JB&B and Saeideh Kirby of JLL to join SWA’s Erin McElwee and Kelly Westby for a two-part episode tackling different topics—starting with gender equity.

In part one of their discussion, the group explores gender equity in male-dominated fields such as construction, HVAC, and engineering. They cover a range of topics, including microaggressions, implicit bias, authenticity in the workplace, and mentorship and sponsorship, and offer actionable takeaways for people of all gender identities to help advance gender equity across our industry.

We thank our guests for sharing their personal experiences!

Look out for part two of their discussion on balancing cost, conservation, and comfort in sustainable buildings.

Episode Guests

Photo of Michelle DeCarlo.Michelle DeCarlo

Michelle M. DeCarlo, PE, LEED AP BD+C, serves as an Associate Partner at Jaros, Baum & Bolles (JB&B). Since joining the firm in 2007, she has led the HVAC design for JB&B on a variety of projects, including the new core and shell office design for 30 Hudson Yards, the commercial office redevelopment of the landmarked Moynihan Train Hall, and The New Terminal One at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Michelle is also committed to the advancement of women in the industry. In 2018, she launched the JB&B Women’s Initiative, an in-house membership group whose mission is the empowerment of women to position them as leaders inside and outside the firm, and to promote the retention of women through leadership and professional development. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Commercial Real Estate for Women (CREW) of New York, currently serving as the President. She recently completed four years of service on the ASHRAE New York Board of Governors, serving as chairperson of its Women in ASHRAE Committee.

Photo of Saeideh Kirby.Saeideh Kirby

Saeideh Kirby is the Senior Director leading Energy and Sustainability Services for multiple industry verticals within the Americas at JLL. In this role, she is responsible for the service delivery in the region and assisting more than 50 sustainability professionals in executing energy and sustainability programs for various clients to meet their sustainability goals. These programs include support in providing roadmaps and implementation towards carbon, energy, water, and waste goals through carbon and energy forecasting, benchmarking, energy conservation projects, energy procurement, alternative energy evaluation, investigation into new technologies, sustainable supply chain, and incorporating sustainability into the full lifecycle of facility management. Prior to joining JLL, Saeideh was senior energy project engineer at SourceOne and was responsible for conducting Cogen feasibility studies and design reviews for multiple clients based in New York.

Photo of Erin McElwee.Erin McElwee

As a Building Systems Consultant at SWA, Erin McElwee provides commissioning (Cx) services for NYC ECC code compliance, LEED Fundamental and Enhanced Cx, and Passive House projects. Erin assists teams with reviews of design drawings and project submittals, conducts commissioning tests on-site, verifies equipment specifications, and provides recommended corrective actions.


Image of Kelly WestbyHost: Kelly Westby

Kelly Westby leads the Building Operations, Decarbonization, and Efficiency (BODE) team at SWA. She has a wide range of experience in building science, commissioning, and energy efficiency retrofitting. The BODE team is focused on optimizing performance and reducing energy use and carbon emissions of building systems for new construction and existing buildings across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. The team offers benchmarking, capital planning, energy management, implementation, commissioning, research, program management, and policy advisory services. Kelly’s commissioning, energy code, and efficiency projects cover millions of square feet of commercial buildings along the East Coast. She also speaks at events and conferences, sharing her expertise on industry best practices.

Episode Information & Resources

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About Buildings and Beyond

Buildings and Beyond is the podcast that explores how we can create a more sustainable built environment by focusing on efficiency, accessibility, and health.

Buildings and Beyond is a production of Steven Winter Associates. We provide energy, green building, and accessibility consulting services to improve the built environment. For more information, visit

Hosts: Robb Aldrich | Kelly Westby

Production Team: Heather Breslin | Alex Mirabile | Dylan Martello | Tricia Carr

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