Meet a Southfacer: Kavin Manickaraj

Kavin provides resource efficiency assessments and technical assistance services for commercial buildings and participants in the Grants to Green programs. He also provides design/construction review support for ECLC and conducts building science research related to photovoltaics and resource efficiency.

How did you end up working at Southface?

I first heard of Southface as an officer of the Energy Club at Georgia Tech. As part of our annual headline event, we wanted to bring energy-related companies in Atlanta together with students to highlight the city’s unprecedented growth in the renewable and sustainability sectors. Our hope was to inspire students to pursue a career in the field and take advantage of the Southeast’s evolving energy landscape. As it turned out, I was inspired by Southface.

What is your role at Southface?

I am a project engineer with the Commercial Sustainability Services team. It feels like I get to do something different every day, but my duties range between performing energy assessments, conducting research and data analysis and optimizing our calculation methods. I’m glad I have had the chance to get my hands dirty in the field as well as delve into theory and calculations. It’s both refreshing and familiar to dive into new topics by collecting empirical data and weighing them against analytical models. It channels my inner college student.

What drives your interest in sustainability and the built environment?

My graduate research was centered on developing thin-film photovoltaics using common elements as an alternative to conventional solar cells. My approach consisted of detailed material science research to fabricate the cells, but I become equally interested in the effect of high-efficiency, low-cost cells on the energy market. That spiraled very quickly into investigations of the current grid infrastructure, domestic and international energy policies, and the cultural forces behind successful technologies. In essence, I grew just as curious about the factors and bottlenecks outside of fundamental research as I was about the science itself. It’s easy to lose track of one side and concentrate on the other, but I believe the best decisions moving forward will come from individuals well-informed on both internal and external governing factors rather than those rooted solely in technology, policy or business.

Kavin has been skydiving so many times that he has graduated to winguits.

Kavin has been skydiving so many times that he has graduated to wingsuits.

What do you like most about your job here?

I’m happy there’s always a different quirk to solve every day. There’s freedom for me to dive into topics using my own methods, so it’s been a natural evolution to my previous research experiences. Most of all, the knowledge base my coworkers bring to the table is extremely impressive and I’ve learned quite a lot picking their brains about the current state of energy and sustainability.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I love to cook. It’s my catharsis. I’m also a heavy subscriber of nerd culture so you can find me reading in the comic book store, playing board and card games with friends, and getting into heated video game matches. There’s always a project being built in my household so the hardware store is a frequent stop. I play music whenever I can and enjoy seeing live shows for any decent band. Outside of the house, I enjoy spending time with my dogs, hiking, skydiving, and finding delicious places to eat and impress friends with when they visit me from out of town.

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