Skip to Main Content
Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Ben MacNicol

I grew up in Toronto and I spend my summers at my family cottage where I run a property maintenance business. I have an older brother and sister that both studied at Western and Ivey. Sports have always been a huge passion of mine, which explains my competitive personality. I think my love for the outdoors and the environment can mostly be attributed to my time at my cottage and previously at camp, where I spend up to four months of the year living. At Western I am pursuing dual Urban Development/HBA degrees and I hope to pursue a career in sustainable real estate business.

Additional Information

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

The typical definition of sustainability that I have been taught over the years is something along the lines of, living within our current means without sacrificing the ability for future generations to meet their needs. The one caveat that I like to clarify is that in order for something to be environmentally sustainable, I believe it must first be economically viable. Simply put, people rarely make changes unless it will also benefit them economically. For example, until renewable resources become more accessible in terms of both availability and cost, fossil fuels will still be the dominant source of energy used, in my opinion.

What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?

My career goal is in sustainable real estate business. Although this is not a typical career path of an Ivey student, it is where my passion lies. I believe I can make a positive impact in the real estate industry—an industry that has seen little change in many years. Specifically, I would like to integrate renewable energy in urban settings to the extent that it can meet my definition of sustainability, by making the resource economically viable and, thus, environmentally sustainable.

Beyond sustainable real estate, my long-term goal is to pursue an entrepreneurial venture. I believe that having a solid understanding of sustainability will be essential in reaching this goal. As sustainability continues to take an increasingly relevant and crucial role in business, I recognize the need to emerge as a leader in this field. When I reach my goal of entrepreneurship, I know that I will act responsibly by integrating sustainability as one of the key pillars of the business.

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

In my final years of high school I emerged as a leader in the school’s ‘Green Club’ and, in my graduating year, I was elected as the Sustainability Steward by my peers and faculty. I had certain successes, but I also experienced first-hand the resistance that some organizations have against sustainability. In terms of success, I organized ‘Earth Week’ with events to engage and educate the students. I was able to secure Rob Stewart as the week’s keynote speaker, known best for his award winning films Sharkwater and Revolution on conservation. However, I proposed other initiatives (like a plastic tax, among other proposals) that were shut down by the administration at the school, claiming that they were not economically viable. My experiences as Sustainability Steward, both good and bad, have motivated me to continue making positive impacts to sustainability.

This summer (2016) I will be studying sustainable urban planning at Bond University in Australia. I was accepted on this exchange through a scholarship program with my dual degree, Urban Development. I hope to gain a broader perspective on what sustainability means on an international scale. I believe that this experience will complement my studies both at Western and Ivey.