BuildGreen Solutions is looking to grow, and newly appointed vice-president Jenny McMinn has been brought in from Halsall Associates (now WSP) to serve the Toronto market and add to the company’s client list.
Ottawa-headquartered BuildGreen is a real estate advisory services company affiliated with Windmill Development Group Ltd. that works with developers, organizations and public and private land owners to implement sustainable practices in the built environment through strategic planning, education, project management and green design consulting.
McMinn’s past projects
McMinn was trained as an architect and was with Halsall for the past eight years, most recently as director of GTA sustainability.
Some of the major green building projects she’s been involved with include the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletes’ Village, CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House, Toronto-Dominion Centre, Bridgepoint Health and California High-Speed Rail, which McMinn refers to as the largest infrastructure project in North America.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of a team that has such depth and history of experience,” McMinn said of her new company. “No one else in Canada has as much experience with zero carbon communities.
“BuildGreen is focused on drawing on this depth of experience to help new progressive communities, overcome some lessons we’ve learned and focus on being even more progressive. For example, we are leading the sustainability strategy and implementation for Zibi in Ottawa.”
Zibi is a multi-phase redevelopment project by Windmill and Dream Unlimited Corp. (DRM-T) that will transform formerly derelict industrial land on the banks of the Ottawa River into low- and high-rise condominiums, townhomes, commercial and office space, waterfront plazas, outdoor squares, recreational facilities and more.
Zibi is one of Canada’s largest urban renewal master-planned projects, and aims to become one of the world’s most sustainable communities by following One Planet Living’s 10 guiding principles covering: zero carbon; zero waste; sustainable transport; sustainable materials; local and sustainable food; sustainable water; land use and wildlife habitats; culture and community; equity and local economy; and health and happiness.
Work with churches
McMinn, a LEED-accredited professional and member of the City of Toronto design review panel, is working with the United Church of Canada to define a program for reducing carbon across its properties.
“With a focus on faith buildings across the country, our work helps congregations use their real estate assets to create liquidity for future mission,” said McMinn.
“With declining congregations and income, but increasing building maintenance costs — combined with a highly values-based set of guiding principles — there are thousands of churches across the country that can draw on the unique perspectives and skills at BuildGreen.”
BuildGreen is also in the early stages of setting something up with an unnamed, 200-acre mixed-use U.S. community seeking the firm’s expertise to better understand the business opportunities available with a carbon-neutral development.
“Our first task will be evaluating the cost benefit of central versus distributed energy systems and the potential return for owning and/or operating a micro utility,” McMinn said.
BuildGreen’s future growth
McMinn is the fifth person in BuildGreen’s Toronto office, while there are another eight in Ottawa, where Windmill is also headquartered. While growing the team and client base are definite goals, McMinn said the market will dictate how fast it occurs.
“BuildGreen is already sought out for some very niche expertise, like brownfield redevelopment, leading-edge sustainability, complex mixed-use project financing and development strategy,” said McMinn. “We need to get out and share these successes so that more markets understand what we can bring.
“In the past, our work and reputation have grown somewhat organically. Over the next five years, we will expand our influence across the country and the U.S.”