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I am an HBA student interested in the intersection of sustainability and real estate. I have a background in asset management and finance, and I want to better understand how to integrate sustainable business practices within real estate. This interest stems from extracurricular involvement on campus where I was previously an executive on the Climate Crisis Coalition and my current position as an executive on the Western Wildlife Conservation Society. When I have some free time, I enjoy playing basketball, canoeing, and reading.

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

To me, sustainability means the ability to continually repeat a process without harming the environment it takes place in. Sustainable processes are ones that at a minimum maintain their starting position and can potentially improve it. Sustainable processes have minimal waste, minimal pollution, and do not exploit resources. This can be achieved through local production, reduced consumption, and reusable resources. This definition of sustainability is intentionally broad, so it can be applied to a variety of situations as sustainability should be present in every human activity.

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

Sustainability will hopefully play a large role in my professional career, more so as I mature. I would like to start my career working within asset managers and real estate investment trusts gaining experience in traditional operations. While doing this, I would like to provide a perspective of sustainability in the conversation to make sure it is always a priority. As my career matures, I would like to lead projects within these companies focused on adding value to assets by making them more sustainable. This could be via operational improvements of existing assets or consulting on new developments for acquisition. Additionally, I am considering pursuing a public sector job in the zoning or other regulatory spaces of government tied to sustainability. I think this would be valuable given how important government regulation within both sustainability and real estate.

I have chosen to integrate sustainability as a key element of my career to improve the world around me, while generating value for the company I work for. I think that real estate plays a huge role in a sustainable society given the rapid urbanization of Canada. Given this, I believe my path to be a career in sustainable real estate.

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

As an executive on the Western Wildlife Conservation Society(WWCS), I have helped protect natural habitats for species on campus and educate students on a wide variety of sustainability topics. Most recently, I have helped spearhead the WWCS birdhouse project to help the native Eastern Bluebird. This is a bird species on campus that will benefit from the construction of bird boxes to have nests to breed in. I have helped the WWCS collaborate with the society of graduate students to gain permission from the university to construct these boxes and obtain funding for the project. Further, we are establishing a long-term monitoring project, so we can better understand the Bluebird. In terms of education, I have helped organize research panels where club members can interact with researchers on campus to further their understanding of sustainability.

As a previous member of the Climate Crisis Coalition, I have helped raise awareness of broader sustainability issues on Western’s campus. This included helping to prepare presentations for western administration and organizing a townhall to gain input from various stakeholders on campus. Additionally, I assisted in the creation of a petition calling on Western to enhance its sustainability commitments and uphold those commitments.

Iain Smith

Iain  Smith

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