Zahra Teshnizi

Senior Advisor

Zahra is an urban sustainability expert with more than eight years of experience in low embodied and operational-carbon buildings development. Zahra is well-connected to a network of climate change action leaders in the public, private, and academic sectors, especially in the Lower Mainland, British Columbia. She brings in a diverse background in policy advising, sustainable building innovation, multi-stakeholder outreach and engagement, and project management.

Before joining Mantle Developments, Zahra was a Research Manager at UBC Sustainability Initiative and a Planning Assistant at the City of Vancouver’s Sustainability Group. Her past projects include developing the first embodied carbon reporting and reduction policies for the Green Buildings Policy for Rezoning of the City of Vancouver and the 2030 Climate Action Plan of the University of British Columbia. She led the creation of more than 10 case studies and technical primers capturing innovative solutions for building decarbonization, which are available on the Zero Emissions Building Exchange (ZEBx) website. Zahra also managed an in-depth Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Costing study, comparing the Brock Commons Tallwood House – an 18-storey student residence at UBC that was the tallest hybrid mass-timber structure at the time – with a similar concrete residential tower. This study led to a multi-year embodied carbon pilot study at UBC, which is informing local and national embodied carbon policies and guidelines. Zahra was the co-lead of phase one of the study and subject-matter advisor on phase two.

Zahra holds a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering from the University of Tehran, Iran, and a Master’s in Advanced Studies in Architecture from the University of British Columbia. She is a Certified Passive House Designer. Zahra has led and supported various industry events and workshops through volunteering for organizations such as Living Future Vancouver collaborative. She is currently sitting on advisory committees of the Embodied Emissions study of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, the City of Vancouver Climate Emergency Response Big Move #5, and LCA^2 initiative of National Research Council Canada.

Selected Governance

  • Carbon Leadership Forum, Vancouver Hub, Co-chair (2019 – current)
  • City of Vancouver, Climate Change Emergency Big Move #5 (embodied carbon), Advising Committee (2020 – current)
  • National Research Council of Canada, Low Carbon Assets through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA2), Technical Committee member (2019 – current)
  • UBC, Climate Action Plan 2030, Embodied Carbon Working Group, technical lead (2020) 
  • Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), Embodied Carbon Study (2020)
  • City of Vancouver, Mass Timber Policy, Advisory Committee (2019)
  • Living Future Institute, Vancouver Collaborative, Steering Committee Member (2014 – 2018) 

Selected Presentations

  • Accelerating To Zero - Embodied Carbon: Concrete Solutions. Panelist. CaGBC Webinar. May 2021.
  • Beyond Energy Efficiency: How low-embodied-carbon materials are changing the building industry. Co-presenter. Mantle314 Webinar. November 2020.
  • Vancouver pre-1940 houses: A mine for old-growth forest wood. Invited Speaker. Waste Heritage Research Symposium: Deconstruction, Salvage & Reuse. (Carleton University. Ottawa, Ontario). October 2018.
  • Lessons learned from life cycle assessment & life cycle costing of two residential towers at the University of British Columbia. Paper Presentation. 25th CIRP Life Cycle Engineering Conference. (Copenhagen, Denmark). April 2018
  • Brock Commons Tallwood House: Project design, construction, and performance. Guest Lecturer. University of Northern British Columbia. (Prince George, British Columbia). February 2018.
  • Innovations in tall wood: Learning from Brock Commons Tallwood House. BuildEx Vancouver. (Vancouver, British Columbia). February 2018.
  • Brock Commons Tallwood House: Project overview. Invited Presenter. Symposium of National Executive Forum on Public Property. (Vancouver, British Columbia). May 2017
  • Brock Commons Tallwood House: Project overview. Invited Presenter. U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Climate Change. (Vancouver, British Columbia). April 2017.
  • Brock Commons Tallwood House: Project design, construction, and performance overview. Invited Presenter. Civil engineering graduate course – CIVL 597. (The University of British Columbia. Vancouver, British Columbia). March 2017
  • Construction and demolition waste in medium-size renovation projects. Sustainability Recognition Gala. (The University of British Columbia. Vancouver, British Columbia). March 2015.
  • Applying lessons from Net Positive Energy to Net Positive Material flows. Paper Presentation. CaGBC National Conference: Pushing the Boundaries – Net Positive Buildings (SB13). (Vancouver, British Columbia). June 2013.
  • Net Positive Material flow. Paper Presentation. Reclaim and Remake International Symposium. (Washington, DC). April 2013
  • Building deconstruction and material recovery in Iran: An analysis of major determinants. Paper Presentation. International Conference on Green Buildings and Sustainable Cities. (Bologna, Italy). September 2011

Selected Publications

Awards & Recognition

  • UBC: Merrick Architecture Graduating Prize (2015); AMS Sustainability Fund (2013); International Tuition Award (2012 – 2015).
  • University of Tehran: Honored Undergrad Researcher of the Year (2011)
  • IMPACT! Youth Sustainability Leadership Fund (2016)


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