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The SBC Blog: Green Building Thought Leaders: Learning from the experts

This September 19-20,  the 11th iteration of the Green Building Festival will take place over two days and includes the Sustainable Built Environment Conference of the Americas. The SBE series is well established globally and the addition of juried papers and workshops to the highly praised GBF content is an exciting development.

This year’s record-breaking winter underscores the need to move well beyond sustainability. Under the banner of “Resilient and Regenerative Urban Environments” we will explore advanced real-world solutions and exciting futuristic concepts intended to reverse the damage to our ecosystem.

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SBE16Toronto speaker: Ontario Minister of Environment & Climate Change Glen Murray

We are pleased to welcome Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray and newly appointed Environmental Commissioner Dr. Dianne Saxe to kick off proceedings this year. Minister Murray is an outstanding speaker who has a deep understanding of sustainable built environments. Dr. Saxe has decades of environmental law experience and was Toronto’s first Environmental Lawyer of the Year, is considered Canada’s leading author on environmental law, and rated as one of the world’s top 25 environmental lawyers.

World-renowned Dr. Ray Cole will galvanize the proceedings with his energetic take on the state of built environment. Ray is the Academic Director of UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) “an internationally recognized research institution that accelerates the adoption of sustainable building technologies and sustainable urban development practices in society”. Ray’s research at CIRS includes Urban Metabolism & Ecosystems Services, the Performance Gap, and Regenerative Neighbourhoods.

Princeton Architectural Press claims that Biomimicry is the fastest-growing movement in architecture and engineering. Professor Mark Swackhamer is head of the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota and author of Hypernatural: Architecture’s New Relationship with Nature. Marc will illustrate how “pioneers in the emerging biomimicry movement are developing design methods and materials to create intelligent buildings that emulate life itself (from) an international collection of forty-two case studies that illustrate astonishing new applications possible in this rapidly growing field” (Princeton Architectural Press).

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SBE16Toronto programming lead Tom Ponessa with speaker Lloyd Alter

Lloyd Alter is an architect, developer, teacher, speaker and writer. He won the 2014 USGBC Leadership award for writing on green building but he’s also an iconoclast who isn’t afraid to question our obsession with net-zero energy.  Lloyd is an advocate for simplifying design, local autonomy, consuming far fewer resources and engaging people with IEQ and comfort instead of energy reducing gizmos. He writes for MNN, TreeHugger.com, contributes to the Guardian, Corporate Knights Magazine and Azure Magazine.

The Green Building Festival portion of SBE16Toronto will continue its tradition of thought leadership with provocative content that covers climate change and design at an urban scale. We plan on covering carbon pricing, insurance issues, integrated project delivery, resilient planning, case studies of advanced buildings, energy and thermal innovations and more.

We are looking forward to an outstanding event that will engage, educate and inspire our delegates and give them new and effective tools for their own projects.

Tom Ponessa M Arch, LEED AP
Director of Programs
Sustainable Buildings Canada
416 655 3111

Natalia Ortiz Moreno

Natalia Ortiz, student of Project Management Environmental (PME) program in Seneca Polytechnic, has an Environmental Engineering background completed at Universidad El Bosque in Colombia. She has always been involved in sustainability roles and projects that included Environmental Management Systems implementation, Water Treatment Systems’ design and operation, Hazardous and Conventional Waste management and minimization practices, as well as Ecosystem’s Conservation and Energy
Efficiency programs.

For the PME – Applied Project Management Course, Natalia developed a Green Roof Assessment Tool for Seneca Polytechnic’s Office of Sustainability, with the aim to provide green roof technology recommendations best suited to a particular scenario, taking into consideration multiple aspects of green roofs and buildings; infrastructure, design, materials, environmental factors, and costs, as well as the Toronto Municipal Code – Green Roof bylaw. Natalia also has a scientific journal publication as the main author of the project “Selection and sizing of industrial wastewater treatment units required at the
new maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) aircraft facility owned by Avianca S.A. in Rionegro Antioquia” in the El Bosque University Journal of Technology.

Natalia strongly believes there are several research topics left to be developed, and the importance of
working towards Sustainability from different backgrounds, knowledge, and cultures to build strong, productive, and resilient communities.
With the vision of growing cities and infrastructure along with nature, always preserving and respecting the ecosystems’ attributes and services, Natalia would like to keep researching and acquiring more experience in Sustainability roles.



Emily Smit

Emily is a second-year PhD student in Geography at the University of Toronto, and a co-operator of a small home renovation company, Magnus Home Improvements. Her research seeks to determine how single-family homes can quickly and best be retrofit to achieve Toronto’s emissions reductions targets – including net-zero by 2040 – as part of the TransformTO climate action plan. Specifically, she will assess the impact of municipal home energy reporting and disclosure programs, as well as produce recommendations for growing the retrofit labour force in ways that attend to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Further, her research seeks to understand how home retrofit activities can be regenerative and produce net-positive impacts for humans and the environment towards transformative, place-based sustainability. When not at her computer, Emily can be found cycling with her kids to and from school or making funky sounds on her analog synthesizer.

Bofa Udisi

Bofa is a sustainability professional with over seven years in the energy and environment industry. He has a Bachelor of Science in Energy and Petroleum Studies from Novena University in Nigeria and graduate certificates in Energy Management and Environmental Project Management from Seneca College in Toronto. In 2020, he graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Master of Environment and Business degree. He is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Building Science program at Toronto Metropolitan University, researching whole-life carbon reduction in new construction and building renovations.

Bofa‘s work experience is primarily in the built environment, working in the private and public sectors in roles that involve structural and environmental assessment of building structures, HVAC engineering design and sales, and facilities management. Bofa is a member of several industry associations, such as the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), the American Society for Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the Project Management Institute (PMI). SBC’s bursary will go a long way in supporting Bofa‘s research and his desire to learn.