Sustainable Built Environment Conference of the Americas

Regenerative and Resilient Urban Environments;
September 19 & 20, 2016

SBE16Toronto: Featured Speakers

Dr. Ray Cole

Ray Cole SBE16Toronto Speaker

Ray Cole, SBE16Toronto Speaker

As director of the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, Ray Cole is a forceful proponent of regenerative design.

“The built environment should be modelled on natural systems and processes. We need to design buildings as part of a larger system – as nodes within a web – and seek out opportunities for synergies and exchange in these relationships. We have to consider buildings as opportunities to make positive environmental contributions and help restore the things we’ve lost. Regenerative design does this by seeking how buildings and communities can work together to create a positive impact. Rather than viewing a building as an isolated “thing,” regenerative design views it as offering the potential to support the co-evolution of human and natural systems. Over time, it can contribute to building natural capital rather than diminishing it.” UBC News November 4, 2013

As he has done at conferences around the world, Ray will energize the proceedings and inspire delegates at SBE16 in Toronto with his thought leadership on regenerative design.


Alec Hay

Alec Hay SBE16Toronto Speaker

Alec Hay SBE16Toronto Speaker

Alec is a principal in Risk, Resilience & Security Planning at Southern Harbour, based in Toronto. Previously the Resilience & Security leader at DIALOG, before which he served 25 years in the British Royal Engineers. He specialised over the last 20 years in fortifications and infrastructure development, which he practised around the World, from the High Arctic to South Atlantic, Europe to Central Asia and much in between.

Alec is an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto Centre for Resilience of Critical Infrastructure, where he focuses on operational resilience of communities and infrastructure systems. He is a director of Rethink Sustainability Initiative and the International Secretary of the Register of Security Engineers and Specialists.

Professor Marc Swackhamer

Marc Swackhamer SBE16Toronto Speaker

Marc Swackhamer SBE16Toronto Speaker

As an author , professor, materials expert and award winning practitioner (2014 Architect Magazine R+D Award and 2014 Core77 Design Award), Marc Swackhamer is on the leading edge of design that emulates nature for resilient and regenerative solutions.

In his 2015 book, “Hypernatural” (Princeton Architectural Press), Marc and co-author Blaine Brownell illustrate how pioneers in the emerging biomimicry movement are developing design methods and materials to create intelligent buildings that emulate life itself.

Marc will deliver a presentation on Hypernatural design projects illustrating astonishing new applications possible in this rapidly growing field. Together, these projects show that by looking to nature, design can be a tool that makes our built environment more efficient, sustainable, and, most of all, livable. According to Prof. Brownell. “All of (the ideas) have enough of a bleeding edge to really capture people’s attention and let them know the future is a pretty amazing place.”


Gordon Harris, FCIP

Gordon Harris SBE16Toronto

Gordon Harris SBE16Toronto Speaker

What happens when a university decides to develop a resilient community built to the highest environmental standards? It gets noticed. UniverCity has been covered in the Sunday New York Times, Maclean’s Magazine, Grist Magazine, the Toronto Star, and on David Suzuki’s television program the Nature of Things as a healthy, walkable community. It has won dozens of awards including an American Planning Association National Excellence Award for Innovation in Green Community Planning, an Urban Development Institute Award of Excellence for Best Practice in Design, Architecture and Development, and a Canadian Institute of Planners Award for Planning Excellence: Neighbourhood Planning. Gordon Harris, President and CEO of Simon Fraser University Community Trust will detail the leading edge elements of this deep green development including:

  • The most stringent development bylaw in North America in its demand for high green standards. All new buildings must be at least 30 per cent more energy efficient than the Model National Energy Code for Buildings and 40 per cent more water efficient.
  • The biomass Neighbourhood Energy Utility that will provide clean, green heat and domestic hot water to new housing projects planned for the UniverCity community and SFU’s Burnaby Campus.
  • The comprehensive and award-winning stormwater management system that mimics nature by returning nearly 100 per cent of stormwater to the ground and maintains pre-development stormwater runoff quality and quantity such that a salmon swimming in a stream at the bottom of Burnaby Mountain would have no clue that a thriving urban community exists at the top.
  • The first building in Canada to meet the greenest building standard in the world, the Living Building Challenge. The UniverCity Childcare Centre has virtually no ecological footprint and is free from toxic materials, generates more energy and water than it uses and costs 10%-15% less to build than other B.C. childcare facilities
  • A sustainable transportation network where nearly 40 per cent use transit regularly (double the Metro Vancouver average).
  • The first LEED® Gold renovated school in BC.