2020 40 Under 40: Shona O’Dea, LEED AP, WELL AP, 31

High Performance Design Leader - Senior Associate, DLR Group, Chicago; BS Building Services Engineering, MS Sustainability, Innovation and Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology; MS Technology, Purdue University

By Chris Vavra and Amara Rozgus May 14, 2020

O’Dea leads the high-performance design team at DLR Group to help design better buildings. Throughout her career, O’Dea has been dedicated to energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality, providing innovation and technical excellence in sustainable building design and operation. Her side-by-side mentorship-style leadership has a way of challenging people to think differently about the way they design and operate buildings. O’Dea advises clients about sustainable goal-setting and uses building simulation to help designers quantify energy savings and understand the interactions of building design with the mechanical systems and with the environment. Beyond building simulation, O’Dea brings her passion to holistic building performance master planning with a focus on reducing the carbon footprint and water use of building portfolios, while also ensuring occupants can thrive in healthy spaces. This process involves an integrated three-pronged approach to data collection: field measurements, sensor technology and occupant engagements. While sensors are her expertise, by combining all three data types, O’Dea and her team provide holistic building performance grades to help owners make business decision focused on ongoing building performance with the operational big picture in mind. O’Dea has been involved in many STEM outreach projects in the Chicago area and has been the junior vice chair of Young Engineers in ASHRAE. She also was a past president of the Chicago chapter of the IBPSA from 2017-18 and remains a board member. Outside of work, O’Dea is an avid rider of mopeds and bicycles and rides anything with more than two wheels. She is also an advocate for dog rescue and ownership and also spends her time doing DIY renovations in her condo.

Author Bio: Chris Vavra, Associate Editor, and Amara Rozgus, Editor-in-Chief