What It Means to Be a Responsible Steward of the Earth: Alec Kelly-Jones '19 BS SBE '22 M Arch
“Not only have I grown exponentially in terms of my knowledge, skills and understanding of architecture and its social impacts, but also in my understanding of what it means to be a responsible steward of the Earth.”
Alec Kelly-Jones ’19 BS SBE ’22 M Arch was born in Sydney, Australia, though he relocated a number of times as a child with his family, providing the opportunity to experience several different countries—including Indonesia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
Kelly-Jones came to the University of Arizona to play rugby but “quickly discovered my passion for green building and sustainable design here in the Sonoran Desert, where extreme weather conditions and mitigating passive design are a way of life,” he says.
As a student in CAPLA’s BS Sustainable Built Environments program, he learned “how to achieve sustainability through social, environmental and economic means” in addition to forming a “wonderful and supportive network of colleagues and mentors in the CAPLA community,” he says.
“After graduation, I knew I wanted to continue furthering my education and apply the knowledge and skills I had gained in my undergraduate studies to enact greater societal change,” he says. So with “the unwavering support and expertise of CAPLA faculty,” he decided to return to CAPLA and pursue the Master of Architecture.
One of Kelly-Jones’s goals in the M Arch is to apply his background “on the means and methods of green building and sustainable design to the wider practices of architecture.” One important strategy he’s learned in the program, for example, is energy modeling, which allows him to accurately quantify the impacts of strategies identified on projects to generate a reliable cost-benefit analysis.
Thinking globally, he says, “I see the shift to green building practices as a necessity, given that the built environment accounts for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions our world sees today.”
As an M Arch student, Kelly-Jones also serves as president of UArizona’s U.S. Green Building Council student organization, a club he joined as an undergraduate. Participation in the group is “hugely rewarding,” he says, in part because of the scholarships the organization provides to members to become LEED-certified.
“I am a strong proponent of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Engineering Design (LEED) principles, as they provide a framework for the design of healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings,” he explains. “Not only do these principles reduce humans’ negative impact on the Earth, they also promote a greater quality of life for occupants through improved air quality, access to natural light and reduced or eliminated energy bills.”
As both undergraduate and graduate at CAPLA, Kelly-Jones has a unique perspective: “For me, the CAPLA experience has been characterized by diversity and cooperation. There are so many talented people both within the faculty and student body, each with differing knowledge and skills, who are willing to help. Being able to tap into those skill sets has pushed my interests and abilities to evolve dramatically during my time in CAPLA.”
This support network has been especially useful when overcoming the many challenges of being a student of architecture and learning the conventions associated with this profession, he notes. “It has been important for me to come to terms with the fact that frustration is a part of the learning process, and with the guidance of CAPLA mentors, each of these experiences has led to growth,” he says.
For those considering the M Arch, he encourages them to take the leap: “I have gained so much valuable experience in UArizona’s M Arch—which has ultimately given me the depth and refinement needed to forge a career developing large-scale green building projects.”
Additionally, Kelly-Jones appreciates CAPLA’s support network. “You can genuinely feel that each and every person in the CAPLA community wants to see you succeed and will take the time to nurture and develop your specific interests.”
Even with his in-depth knowledge of sustainability acquired in the Sustainable Built Environments undergraduate program, pursuing the M Arch at CAPLA “has truly been an eye-opening experience” for Kelly-Jones: “Not only have I grown exponentially in terms of my knowledge, skills and understanding of architecture and its social impacts, but also in my understanding of what it means to be a responsible steward of the Earth.”