A self-described “intrapraneur” and “data geek,” Amir Rezaei-Bazkiaei finds joy in problem-solving and pushing for change inside an organization. With a Ph.D. in environmental engineering and renewable energy, Amir’s passion is using computational design methods to influence the design of net-zero and positive-energy buildings. As CannonDesign’s high-performance building analyst, he raises the performance bar daily by advocating for better energy efficiency, output and utilization through analysis.

“Globally, 40 to 60 percent of all energy consumption is via buildings. They are the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions. If we could change that, it would make a big difference,” Amir says. “If it was up to me, I’d mandate all new buildings be designed net-zero.”

Though he doesn’t have that kind of power (yet), Amir is committed to doing what he can to ensure CannonDesign commits to building net-zero and positive-energy buildings when possible.

“There’s a shift in the way that designers are working,” he says. “We want to know how our buildings are going to perform once built. It’s about designing buildings that will be energy efficient – maybe even net-zero – while also being comfortable to live in. This is a priority for the company and it’s great for our clients.”

Born and raised in Iran, Amir immigrated to the U.S. eight years ago, something he credits with shaping him into a natural problem-solver.

I have a different lens because of past experiences. I’ve lived without enough money and within an education system that was lacking, so when there is a challenge or problem I instantly think of different ways to attack it because I’ve had to be resourceful.

Amir’s work as an analyst provides him with constant challenges.

“In real estate, they say it’s all about location, location, location,” he says. “In high-performance building, it’s all about analysis. You need to analyze where you are, what the climate is, how much temperatures fluctuate, how much sunlight you get or don’t get. And then it’s about integration and working with the architecture and engineering departments to incorporate energy models and concepts into the design.”

Once strategies and systems have been decided upon, the other half of the work begins, thinking about what happens when people actually occupy the building.

“There’s always the question of whether or not people will use the building as you had expected and accounted for,” he says. “You can assume the lights are out at night, but if that’s not the case then you’ve got some reconfiguring to do. It’s an ongoing process.”

When he’s not at work, Amir enjoys being with his two young daughters and influencing them to think about design in their daily lives.

“I want to teach them to believe in data and to be curious about how they can make a better living environment for themselves,” he says. And though he misses family (and the food!) in Iran, Amir has found a new home for himself and his family in Buffalo.

“Being an immigrant can sometimes affect the way people treat you in the work environment,” he says.

“When I met the CannonDesign team, I could tell that they valued me for the expertise that I brought to the table and that it didn’t matter where I came from. It’s been a true blessing to be in an environment that fosters diversity.”