Meet Arman Mottaghi
2021 CAGBC Emerging Green Leader Award Winner
Arman Mottaghi is the 2021 recipient of the Emerging Green Leader Award, sponsored by DIALOG . The award recognizes a deserving student or young professional making a significant contribution to green building community development. Mottaghi is the CEO of Properate, a Vancouver start-up that uses artificial intelligence to help homebuilders create cost- and energy-efficient building designs. A thought leader and innovator in the green building space, Mottaghi has developed partnerships with five B.C. cities and has helped more than 200 builders build more energy-efficient homes. He showcases his leadership as a Board Director for the BC Sustainable Energy Association.
Hear more from 2021’s Emerging Green Leader, Arman Mottaghi.
Tell us about your organizations and what you do for them?
I am the CEO of Properate. We are on a mission to improve design energy efficiency of construction and renovation projects. My work involves planning software development, talking to different stakeholders (from homeowners, to manufacturers, to cities), and helping guide our next actions.
Tell us about your career and how you came to be in the role you are now.
I’m afraid it is a pretty anticlimactic story. My education was initially in urban planning and then in building science. By the time I was in the building science profession, I saw a big gap in construction and renovation of low-rise residential buildings. The design and planning tools were not up to the task of giving users costing insights and understandable environmental metrics. There were a lot of unknowns and guesswork in each project.
In the meantime, the Pan Canadian Framework created a very ambitious target of emissions reduction in the construction sector. A main source of these emissions were these low-rise buildings. I figured we would not be able to meet those targets without an intuitive and data-driven solution, specifically for these buildings. I made a mock-up of what I liked to have; then started showing it to other people. Gradually this became Properate.
Tell us a little bit about a project you are particularly proud of.
We do many of our activities with large entities, for many homes. With these projects, we deliver software tools and automated solutions. In some of those instances, we had people building their own home. They wanted to make the best thing possible within their budget. Creating a personal connection with people who engage with our tools is pretty critical to me. A particular couple near their retirement come to my mind. We helped them build a durable and healthy home for themselves that did not cost a fortune to heat. Seeing how bringing knowledge to them made a difference makes me very proud of the work we do.
What do you see are the key issues / opportunities facing your profession?
I think the public isn’t yet aware of green building’s social and economic benefits. The news cycle is too focused on overly futuristic technologies and often misses our obvious day-to-day problems. An average person spends most of their time indoors — typically at home amid the pandemic. Yet when you ask, people still have basic issues with their home’s comfort. We don’t need drones to fix these kinds of things. We just need to show people that there are solutions. We have become too used to buildings not being fully in-tune with our health and needs. Once we get people to deeply think about the problem, we can account for everything and make an economic case for green homes.
In my opinion this public fascination is our biggest issue and our biggest opportunity over this decade.
You were recently named Emerging Green Leader as part of CaGBC’s Leadership and Green Building Excellence Awards. What does it mean to you to be recognized in this way?
I am very grateful for it. CaGBC has been a source of like-minded organizations and mutual benefits. A lot of what we explore is uncharted territory and being part of a community matters a lot in those situations. I deeply value this award and it motivates me in continuing this journey.