Ask the Expert: Paul Frith
2020 Volunteer Leadership Winner
The Chapter Volunteer Leadership Award recognizes a deserving individual who is an active and effective advocate for the green building industry, through significant involvement in creating, building and/or growing a CaGBC Chapter. They participate in and contribute to a variety of successful initiatives and are engaged in opportunities which focus on advocacy and advance the CaGBC’s mission in their region.
The 2020 winner, Paul Frith, has been a tireless advocate for CaGBC’s Greater Toronto Chapter. In addition to his day job as Director of Advocacy and Sales with Geosource Energy, Paul’s fundraising and organizational work as co-chair of the Chapter’s Drive for Change golf tournament committee has been a pivotal factor in the event’s success over the past four years. Paul’s efforts in support of this and other CaGBC initiatives have served to strengthen and broaden the organization’s network in the Greater Toronto Area.
Here more about Paul’s tireless efforts to expand green building practices and principles:
Tell us about your career and how you came to be in the role you are now?
I am the Director of Advocacy & Sales for Geosource Energy Inc. where my primary function is business development and advocacy work for our industry. I also carry the title of Government Relations for the Ontario Geothermal Association. My day to day typically involves working with the development community helping them understand geothermal heating and cooling technology and the best way to implement the technology in their buildings. I came into this role when I was actively looking for a new opportunity and a recruiter friend of mine introduced me to Geosource. I had a 3-hour first interview and after a week or two I was working with them. I have now been with the company for over 6.5 years.
How did you get started with the CAGBC in your region and how has the work you do with CaGBC GTA has helped your career?
I got started with the GTA Chapter after an introduction to their former Executive Director Hazel Farley. She told me what the organization was about and what they were trying to do, which aligned quite well with my goals. I think the top thing the chapter has done for my career is helped me build my network. I am fortunate that I am a talker, so getting to know people has never been that difficult for me but to be able to meet the caliber of individuals that are members of the chapter has truly helped my career significantly.
Tell us a little bit about a CaGBC regional project you are particularly proud of and any outcomes you want to highlight.
The project I would be most proud of would be the Drive for Change Golf Tournament. Approximately six years ago I approached Hazel about running a golf tournament for them as a great way to raise funds for the chapter. I took a little bit of convincing of the Board of Directors, but I can now say we just finished the 5th annual tournament. It is one of the top fundraisers for the Chapter and we sell out most years. I have been very fortunate to have Robert Edwards help me with the tournament. He and I have co-chaired the tournament since the beginning.
The CAGBC relies on its volunteers to help achieve its mission of every building greener. How do you see your role in achieving that mission, especially with your current role?
Considering that the technology I work with (Geothermal Heating and Cooling) is considered to be the best technology for carbon reduction in terms of HVAC systems, I am obviously able to help the chapter in its green building mandates. Though multiple networking events the Chapter has hosted I have been able to add many decision makers to my network who after meeting with me, started deploying the technology in their new construction projects. I am also working with the Chapter on an ongoing basis to help on the education side of things. We will be starting an online opportunity for geothermal starting in the very near future with the CAGBC.
Volunteering requires time. What would you say to someone who is on the fence about committing to it? The benefits must go both ways – what did you get out of being a volunteer?
If you want to help achieve a better world for everyone, the CaGBC is one of, if not the best, organization to work with to achieve it. If you are a recent grad and want to get to know some very important and influential people, the CaGBC is a great way to build your network. If you invest some time to volunteer for the CaGBC you will be doing your part to help the world and you will be fighting the good fight to solve our climate crisis. If you can do this and build your network at the same time, it is kind of a no brainer in my opinion.
You were recently honored with the Volunteer Leadership award as part of CAGBC’s Leadership and Green Building Excellence Awards. What does it mean to you to be recognized in this way?
It truly was and is an honour to win this national award. I do what I do because I firmly believe that I am making a difference. I don’t do it for award or accolades but being recognized for your efforts truly does mean the world to me. I have always had fire in my belly to do what I do – this award just makes me want to push even harder.
What advice do you have for other green building professionals looking to expand or pursue a career in green building and especially energy and GHG management?
I get this question often as I am a Mentor in the University of Toronto’s Sustainable Engineering Association mentorship program. The field that we work in is one of the fastest growing fields in the world. You can make a very healthy living while being able to make a difference in the world while at the same time building a massive network. I talk often about the employment opportunities that are going to be coming up in the renewable space. There is going to be a shortage of engineers, energy modelers, energy managers and building science experts just to name a few. On top of that you will see many roles open in the construction space that will be a direct result of the growth happening in the green building space. To put this into better perspective, the company I work for has gone from 12 employees to over 70 over a 6.5-year period and we don’t see things slowing down anytime soon.