Inspirational Person: Jamie McKay, Sustainable Building Consultant

FullSizeRender (2)

Jamie McKay is self described “Husband, Father, principal at Morrison Hershfield (15 yrs), LEED Fellow, adjunct teacher (Carleton University), lecturer (CaGBC & USGBC), engineer, environmentalist, dumpster diver, artist/designer/builder, canoe paddler, skateboarder, and telemark skier – and that about sums it up”. Quite impressive!

Jamie, as a recognized leader in Sustainable Building Design, where was your passion born?

In 1995 I graduated from Civil Engineering at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) and headed to the Yukon Territory, in search of adventure and autonomy. I met many people living radically different lives than anything I’d ever seen before, and was exposed to many new ideas. It was there that I first found my passion for the environment and self-sufficient housing. This was also where I met my wife, a staunch environmental activist. I began to seek out any information I could about the field of sustainable construction, and ultimately moved to Victoria (1997) and Vancouver (1999). It was there that I became involved in the emergence of the green building industry, and got inspired by local legends: David Suzuki, Peter Busby and Guy Dauncey. One of my first deep green projects was Dock Side Green in Victoria, B.C. (a Windmill project)

Over your career, what comes to mind as the largest victories? 

The things that I am most proud of would best be split into two categories: personal and project based. Personally, it would have to be my LEED Fellowship (2014) – a combination of consulting, volunteering, teaching and lecturing over 15 years. Professionally, my work with the Office of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency on the Implementation Guide for the Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Government Green Building Policy (2013). It was an unsolicited project whose aim was to help promote (possible save) green buildings in NL, and included interviews, stakeholder meetings and post-delivery information sessions.

I have always admired the way you live out your beliefs, including building your own straw bale home! Could you tell us a bit more about some aspect you really love ?

I do love my house, but not for what you would expect. People are the biggest feature – from the local farmer, wood miller, window manufacturer, clay plasters, timber framers, to used material suppliers. We embedded stories into the house, including wood from the Duke of Summerset pub, my Dad’s old lead glass windows, and signatures carved into the clay. I can still hear the stories weaved as the straw bales were sewn together by the mostly female crew, or an apologetic plaster that accidentally burned a section of roof joist. To me (us) this is priceless.

Your ability to instill an understanding of the connection between the built environment and nature with your children is a powerful example. Could you share one of the initiatives that your family undertook recently, that your children really enjoyed? 

For this I will give a nod to my wife, as we (she) took on an outdoor education initiative at our kid’s school. We brought butterflies into the class rooms as caterpillars, and helped the kids release them at the end. Then we worked with the kids to design and build a butterfly garden with local plants. This project has since expanded to working with the local library to start a seed saving library. Each project was intended to bridge the gap between education, the environment and the community. Our involvement in the project truly enriched each of our lives and touched many in the community too.

With all of your experiences and knowledge, do you think there is hope for the world? And if so – what would you say is the key to solving the current environmental crises? 

It’s a good question as it is not obvious on the surface, but simply – YES. Our society is very busy in the consuming/working cycle so you need a quiet moment of interaction to find it. Our family has found that working within our local community (kids, librarians, bike mechanics, local food producers) each member tells a story of hope.

I think that we all yearn for connection and something real – but it seems only to happen when we let our guard down, smile and connect.

**If you enjoyed the content of this post, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**

{Interested in other Q&A’s with Inspirational People? Check them out here}



6 thoughts on “Inspirational Person: Jamie McKay, Sustainable Building Consultant

  1. Great read. I especially like his answer when asked the question about his straw bale house, and also the butterfly project and all the good things that have come from that. Hopefully something like that will be implemented all over the country.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s