Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 In Sustainability Leadership

After being named to a national list of trailblazing youth sustainability leaders, I was asked what motivated me to make change

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Youth rising: Meet 2019’s top 30 under 30 sustainability leaders — Corporate Knights

 

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I was recently named to Corporate Knights’ 2019’s Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leaders for my work towards helping achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals #11, Sustainable Cities & Communities, and #12, Responsible Consumption & Production. Then I was asked how I came up with the ideas and what motivated me to pursue them.


Here’s what I have to say.


I've always been passionate about sustainability and making a positive difference as a child — I owe it to my grandmother who was the sustainability champion of her time! I’ve grown up with the idea that sustainability — ranging from climate change and global warming to social justice and gender equality — are the biggest environmental and societal challenges of our time, respectively. Given that the United Nations has repeatedly been ringing the warning bell on climate change for years, as a global citizen, I’m extremely concerned. And as a Canadian, given that Canada is experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, with Northern Canada heating up at almost three times the global average, according to Canada’s Changing Climate Report (CCCR), commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada, I’m even more concerned. Canada is in a vulnerable state. Clearly, it’s a huge issue, whether people choose to believe it or not — it’s happening anyway, as we speak.

On the other hand, Belnor Engineering was already in the green and sustainable building industry for decades. Their motto and mission have continuously been to build green cities, one green building at a time. Through their work to create and maintain energy-efficient conditions for improving building occupant health and safety and indoor air quality through innovative building & laboratory controls systems, and HVAC & automation systems, they’ve been able to help “greenify” North America’s built environment. This includes applications in regular tall commercial office towers to niche, critical airflow spaces, such as high-tech hospitals, research institutions, and large-scale laboratories, spanning industry, academia, and government.

According to the International Energy Agency, the buildings and construction industries consume 40% of the world’s energy and contribute 40% of the world’s carbon emissions as well. Running a building itself is extremely energy-intensive. If not properly maintained, buildings develop conditions such as the “Sick Building Syndrome”, which produces dire consequences for the occupants of the building, the organizations to whom the occupants belong, and of course, the building itself. It was an instant realization for me — this is an excellent starting point to help reduce Canada’s carbon emissions and help combat the effects of global warming and climate change in our country, the United States, and around the world.

I realized business has a lot of power to make positive change. This power could be used as a tool to not only fight climate change but to also come up with all kinds of sustainable solutions for the betterment of our society. That’s exactly what happened here — when I realized the potential of the power businesses have to make positive social and environmental impact, and given that Belnor Engineering was already in the green building industry, providing sustainable, green, and energy-efficient solutions to North America’s top brands and institutions, I set out to literally “be the change I wanted to see”. We already had a lot on our plate, but I figured we could be leveraging our potential to do so much more for the world and be making a positive difference of an even larger magnitude than previously before.

 

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That’s when I started my research and came across transparent building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) glass. Also called “transparent solar glass”, this is standard architectural glass that generates clean, free energy from the sun thanks to invisible photovoltaic modules intelligently incorporated inside. The element of transparency allows it to be used by architects the same way any standard building glass would be used, but with the added benefit of solar energy generation that would dramatically help the building offset its energy costs. The flexibility in customization allows for the glass to be installed in various applications (photovoltaic canopies, skylights, carports, walkable roofs, walkable floors, windows, facades, curtain walls — you name it) in various colours, shapes, textures, effects, transparencies, and sizes, thereby, allowing the architects to design even more creative and beautiful spaces without having to compromise on any aesthetic elements for any form of infrastructure ranging from city skyscrapers to international research centers to national transit systems.

Given that the material also eventually pays for itself within 1–2 years, and its hallmark benefits of solar energy generation, UV and IR filtration, thermal and acoustic insulation, natural illumination, innovative design, and a significant reduction in carbon emissions, thereby significant shrinking of the structure’s carbon footprint, I couldn’t resist suggesting this to the team at Belnor. And they were absolutely ecstatic! We had come across a revolutionary technology that has the potential to change how buildings are eventually built globally! We immediately and exclusively procured the technology, and Belnor Engineering’s renewable energy arm was born.


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Canada’s first BIPV installation: CITE Facility, Seneca College, Toronto, ON.

From there began the massive campaigns, promotions, conferences, and presentations to architects, developers, engineers, consultants, and construction companies all over North America, ranging from boutique, luxury groups to massive, international giants. The number of positive responses that started pouring in, and even more today, were absolutely astounding! The technology was embraced with much appreciation to drive positive change in the green building industry.

Canada Science and Technology Museum, Museum, BIPV, Photovoltaic, Building Materials, Renewable Energy, Belnor Engineering
Another major Canadian BIPV installation: Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa, ON.
Belnor Engineering’s new renewable energy arm has significantly helped enhance the North American infrastructure landscape, preparing buildings for the climate change and sustainability challenges to come with photovoltaic solar glass, preventing the consumption of thousands of barrels of oil per year, naturally powering thousands of lights year-round.

As a result, today, we have transformed buildings, both old and new, into green buildings, preventing the consumption of thousands of barrels of oil per year, naturally powering thousands of lights year-round, and reducing total operational and HVAC energy demands by significant percentages (50% and upwards, depending on the facility’s application), annually. Thanks to our work, we’ve led all these buildings to achieve internationally recognized LEED and WELL building standards, essentially recognizing the buildings as “green” and “healthy”, respectively. And the celebration still continues. It’s even more exciting because everyone we come across is even more excited — and that excitement is contagious. We currently have several projects underway ranging from high-profile commercial and residential towers, and large-scale urban development public spaces across North America, to high-level top-secret Federal buildings.

Together, we see a more sustainable future for our world through green buildings. Belnor Engineering’s renewable energy arm has significantly helped enhance the North American infrastructure landscape so far, particularly that of Canada, effectively preparing buildings for the climate change and sustainability challenges to come. For decades, Belnor Engineering has been making buildings green through exclusive, sustainable technologies. Together, we see a more sustainable future for our world through green buildings. Now, with our new renewable energy arm, which I’m so happy to have started and developed to this degree, and with much more exponential growth to come in the near future, Belnor Engineering has been able to further propel it’s mission to build green, sustainable cities, fighting climate change one green building at a time, driving positive social and environmental change every step of the way.

I’m glad to have played my part and encourage everyone to play theirs. And with the dawn of a new decade, the #DecadeOfAction, I look forward to doing even more. This is just the beginning.