appeal for all the obvious reasons, but it also really helps you to grow and develop your skill set. It’s also something to fall back on down the road. Contract work is kind of a retirement plan in itself. So it seems like the two businesses really cover the needs of both the commercial and residential client. What are some of the needs of the modern energy effi- cient-minded builder? JL: Both businesses are a mix of commercial and residen- tial. Thermo Homes has insulated many of the large new construction projects within HRM, and it’s also focused on residential energy efficiency solutions. Equilibrium sees a wide variety of projects. Being in the Annapolis Valley, we tend to deliver all types of residential construction engi- neering requirements, and we work closely with some of the largest real estate companies in Atlantic Canada on both new construction – meaning mechanical and electri- cal design and energy modeling – and retro-commission- ing of older building inventory. WM: The nice thing about the whole energy-efficient building is that it’s boundless. There isn’t a scenario where the builder isn’t interested in designing the waste out – it’s really our basic theory. It reduces the cost, for instance, of mechanical components that would otherwise be included to deal with waste. It also reduces non-operational losses, the human effects like people jacking up the thermostat in winter or leaving the lights on. We make sure that buildings reach the high performance they’re capable of and that might mean installing some unseen component between the gyp rock and the siding – but that’s the core that drives the heating equilibrium. You can imagine that energy efficient insulation is cheaper than buying a geothermal heat pump and it’s those kinds of decisions that more and more property owners are facing nowadays. Over the next decade or so, we’re going to see a lot of pressure on the North American lifestyle to reduce its impact on the environment through lower-emis- sion technologies. We all want the mansion, the big dream house, but the reality is that a family of four with two kids just doesn’t need the 4- 5000 square feet home. We’re going to have to adjust our expectations and adopt a global perspective that factors in population projections. We can’t all have the lion’s share, that’s just an irresponsi- ble approach. We pick products that have some sort of life cycle analysis, something that can be third-party verified –not products just green washed with marketing tools. And the client clearly loves what you do. I’m wonder- ing: what’s your growth percentage been like since starting operations and does your contract work for Efficiency Nova Scotia give you a little more clout in the local market?
opportunity. We sold a portion of our company to Econoler in order to significantly expand our reach and we’ve been steadily growing for at least the last two-and- a-half to three years. I’m sure the readers would love to hear about these interna- tional missions (and I’m curious as to whether these expe- riences have changed the way you approach your day-to- day operations in any way). “They have a couple of offices around the world and they were looking for some, we’ll say younger, energy efficiency experts – because a lot of their experts were getting older and needing some new faces to take on some of these international missions.” JL: Our day-to- day operations haven’t changed, and that was one of the benefits, that we maintained our operation- al independence. The partnership has given us internation- al opportunities. Econoler has 70-plus full-time staff and 10 offices world-wide. Since the partnership we have been to Argentina, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Georgia for international missions. WM: And it’s interesting. My first international mission was to Argentina. It took 16 hours of travel time to get there and it surpassed my expectations. I arrived in January – which is the equivalent of August temperature wise in Canada – so it was a relief when I got off the plane when I felt the 38 degree Celsiustemperature with 85 or 89% relative humidity. We got to work with a local firm backed by a US conglom- erate who handled asset management for large multina- tionals. They were huge warehouse facilities and we got to work directly with architects on energy and design. Canada and the US are leaders in building science and there is a massive backlog, an exponential registration of projects that just aren’t getting through the back end in places like Argentina because of a shortage of experts. In my second international mission, I was in Argentina four months later for a week. I’ve also performed energy audits in Turkey and factory work in Bulgaria and Georgia similar to what I did in Argen- tina. Everywhere I’ve been the people have been great and the clients accommodating. We were hired under an inter-American development bank program to help provide some assistance.
The international component of what we do has so much
SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE • JULY 2017
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