| March 6, 2024

Celebrating International Women’s Day with Jana Giles

Jana Giles, a Junior Energy Modeler here at Efficiency Nova Scotia.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we sat down with Jana Giles, a Junior Energy Modeler here at Efficiency Nova Scotia, to talk about how her passion for the environment led to a career in engineering and how connecting with like-minded women along the way has shaped her experience.

Q: Tell us about your role here at Efficiency Nova Scotia and how long you’ve been with us.

A: I started as an Energy Management co-op Student in September 2020 and then returned for a second co-op term in 2021. In February 2023 I came on full time as a Program Development Specialist on the Research & Development Engineering team where I contributed to the launch of a new residential demand response pilot and helped develop a framework for an upcoming EV pilot.

This past December I took on a new role as Junior Energy Modeler on the Custom Commercial New Construction team, reviewing both proposed and reference building energy models to ensure the models match program guidelines and that reference buildings are modeled per the National Energy Code for Buildings. My favourite projects so far haven’t been built yet, so you’ll have to keep an eye on Halifax’s skyline!

Q: Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in STEM?

A: Honestly no! In high school I thought I was going to be an author, teacher, or English professor. I loved math but I thought science classes would be very medically focused, so I really wasn’t interested. But then I tried a physics class and was like – wow, this is just applied math! – and I really connected with it. I loved that math didn’t have to be just theoretical numbers on paper but could actually be used to solve problems.

Q: What sparked your interest in environmental science?

A: In high school I was lucky enough to participate in a class trip to the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas where they’re doing incredible things with conservation and research. Being exposed to that was very eye-opening and inspiring, so that was sort of the catalyst. Then in university as I studied engineering, I became interested in renewable energy and wanted to pursue that path. I really didn’t know much about energy efficiency until I started my co-op here and I was blown away that there was this whole other avenue to explore when it comes to clean technology.

Q: How important has mentorship been during your time as a student and young professional?

A: Seeing other women in these fields is really inspiring and it meant a lot to find those role models when I was one of only a few women in my classes at university. I would go on LinkedIn to find women in the kinds of roles I was interested in to see what their first jobs were and how they got started. Since then, I’ve been lucky to have some incredible women in my life who have shared their knowledge and experience with me.

It’s so inspiring and encouraging to see other women succeed, and it means a lot when you can be part of a community that celebrates each other’s wins. As a member of the Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) I get to help organize and participate in webinars and events, and that’s actually how I’ve met some of my mentors. During university I wasn’t really finding mentors within academia, so meeting other women through CWEEL was such a great way to connect with women in the types of roles I was interested in. It meant so much to see them thriving in their careers and gaining respect for their work.

Q: Could you share some words of wisdom for other women in science-related careers?

A: Absolutely. Being a woman in STEM can sometimes be challenging, but it’s important to remember that your voice and perspective are so valuable. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and take up space. Find a support network of mentors, colleagues, and like-minded people who can provide guidance and encouragement along the way. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and take advantage of opportunities for growth. Remember that there’s strength in diversity and that your contributions can make a significant impact.

Q: What’s your dream job and where do you see yourself in 20 years?

A: In 20 years, I’d love to be a leading expert in energy modeling and a master of the National Energy Code for Buildings. I’m deeply fascinated by the intersection of sustainable design and energy efficiency, and I believe that energy modeling is a powerful tool to optimize building performance and reduce environmental impact. My dream is to find innovative solutions that help create greener and more sustainable cities. Whether it’s through working with architectural firms, research institutions, or government bodies, I want to contribute to a future where energy-efficient buildings are the norm.

Q: Before we go, tell us a bit more about yourself. What are some of your hobbies?

A: I’m a big reader and my current favourite is Donna Tartt’s Secret History – which has a cool, dark academia vibe. I’d say I’m pretty crafty since I do a lot of knitting, crocheting, embroidery, cross stitch, and watercolour. I’m very into fibre arts and was so excited when we started a knitting club here at Efficiency Nova Scotia! I’m also very passionate about travel and I love hiking so that motivates a lot of my location choices. I really enjoyed visiting Portugal and now Morocco and New Zealand are high on my list. I’m currently living in Newfoundland, so I’m also really enjoying the beautiful scenery and hikes right here in my backyard.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Jana! To hear more of her story and how she found her niche in energy efficiency, check out our video from last year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science.