A conversation with Vivian Manasc and Christina Michayluk

20th anniversary conversations

CAGBC Staff on September 1, 2022

International Women's Day
Member Profiles

Part of a CAGBC 20th anniversary series

In this first installment, we feature Vivian Manasc of REIMAGINE, a CAGBC co-founder, and an emerging green leader, Christina Michayluk, a sustainability specialist at Footprint. Together, they offer a look at CAGBC’s past, as well as a glimpse towards its future. You can watch the interview in full on our Youtube channel or catch the highlights here. 

Christina: How were you involved in CAGBC’s founding?

Vivian: It was it was quite the adventure 20 years ago because there was a large base of support for the green building movement and it was across architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and. Fabrication. It was just really exciting to see so many industries and so many enterprises paying attention to the future of sustainability. Although there were differences of opinion as to how our Canadian GBC should be formed, I was always very much on the side of having a grassroots style of organization that was very broadly based. And so, I became really involved in advocating for a Green Building Council and I attended all the original founding meetings across the country. It was an extremely heady and exciting time because so many people were getting into this conversation and ultimately, we carried the day and a group of us formed the founding board of the Canada Green Building Council.

Christina: What do you remember most about those early days?

Vivian: I guess I remember the excitement of it, how much momentum there was and how many people that were really passionate about creating a green building movement, and how important it became that we actually create an organization. I think we, those of us who were already working in and designing green buildings realized that without institutional framework, they would just continue to be one off. The importance of having an institution that would further this work and really build the momentum and deepen the access across the country was very exciting.

Christina: How did those early years impact the direction of your career? 

Vivian: A lot of the work that we were doing then was really about broadening the conversation. I remember very clearly the discussion about market transformation. Part of the work that I was doing early on was really teaching, coaching and learning from others. Traveling across the country coast to coast teaching LEED and green building courses both for the RAIC and for the CAGBC. I think one of the things that was really influential was just that I got to know a lot of people in that process in our industry, a lot of architects, engineers, etc. We became great colleagues and friends over a very long time, so I think that was really big part of the early days of my career, just building that sort of relationships across Canada.

Christina: Now fast forward to 2022. How is the organization the same and how is it different?

Vivian: CAGBC is still trying to work on market transformation, which is great and I’m excited to see the focus on net zero right now and decarbonizing. So, I think CAGBC has continued to stay in the forefront through good advocacy and the ability to influence public policy. I think the CAGBC has come a long, long way. In the early days it was just a small group of people sort of making a lot of noise but now I think the organization has really effective advocacy. It’s managing to influence policy at the federal level and provincial level across the country. I think that’s a huge step forward.

Vivian: I’ve got some questions for you too. When and how did you become active with CAGBC?

Christina: I actually became involved through school, so I went to school in SAIT in the architectural technologies program and one day, CAGBC with the emerging Green Builders program at the time decided to come to our program to do a Green Building 101. I came for free pizza and stayed for the information and was able to learn a lot about CAGBC and get to know who they were. I started attending events, then started helping at these events and eventually became part of the emerging green professionals. So, it’s been like seven years of working with them.

Vivian: What do you see as some of the challenges for the next generation of green building leaders? What are you focusing on and does CAGBC help in some way?

Christina: That’s a great question. Long term resiliency I think is really important as we’re hearing more about the effects of climate change and how those are impacting building design. But also talking about carbon emissions and the reduction of emissions through embodied carbon and operational carbon are very important and part of the 2030 and 2050 global frameworks. CAGBC has been able to provide amazing education on these areas through webinars and all the industry experts being able to share their knowledge, their case studies and expertise. I think that’s huge part of advocacy and education. CAGBC is so helpful in gaining these resources when people aren’t necessarily right beside you to get them. It’s been great to be able to have those resources.

Christina: Where do you think the CAGBC should focus in the next 20 years?

Vivian: As I was saying earlier, existing buildings is still a huge area. We definitely have a big challenge in front of us. There might need to be more incentives, more accreditations, more focus on existing buildings and (understanding of) how to make it more appealing for owners of large existing buildings to shift their thinking about the carbon footprint and their energy performance beyond just what the utility bills are to actually looking at what impact their building is having on the environment. How can we radically reduce that impact? I think that’s one area that I love to see the CAGBC pay attention to. In my mind, more than ever, CAGBC also needs to focus on people. One of the things I’ve always loved is genius elements of the US and Canada Green Building Council is that people can be LEED accredited, so it’s not just about buildings, it’s actually about people and about your own professional development.

Vivian: What about you? What are you thinking?

Christina: Definitely agree with you on the existing buildings. It’s such a huge part of our building stock and we really need to focus on it, especially if you want to be making the 2030 and 2050 goals. I think with the CAGBC as well, something they should be doing is continuing our conversations with our young professionals and students. We have to advocate because I think that these aren’t always the topics that are being taught in schools and it’s great to be able to provide them the additional resources so that they can be the movers and the shakers of the industry in the future.

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