Meet The Experts: GREEN201: Alternative Energy and Sustainable Homes

We are so excited to share the list of local experts on energy, conservation, and building issues who are coming to the Wednesday’s Green Drinks to discuss their work with you! The evening will host a series of bar-table discussions of key topics, from solar to fusion, apartments to suburbs, and slow-tech to high-tech. Guests are invited to sit-in, participate and meander from one electrifying conversation to another. We sold out this afternoon, but after scrounging in the sofa cushions we found 10 more advance tickets to release!

Editor’s note: bios of the local experts who attended Green Drinks to chat with participants continues after the jump.


Learn about solar and wind systems on the market now from the experts, and cutting-edge developments in fusion energy research.

randallbensonRandall Benson, Gridworks Energy Group Inc.

Randall is a Master Electrician with over 15 years experience in the PV and Wind industry in the design, installation and training of grid-connected photovoltaic systems, and was one of Canada’s first PV installation instructors. Randall was also one of a small contingent of individuals responsible for assisting CSA (CE Code), NETCO, IBEW and CECA in developing the National Standards for PV installation practices and certification for Construction Red Seal Electricians. Further to this, Randall Benson was one of the persons, out of a group of six to eight Solar PV professionals, responsible for training standards for Electricians for PV installation and has personally trained hundreds of electricians, electrical inspectors and engineers throughout Canada and continues to do so.

Warren Sarauer, Solar Energy Society of Alberta Board Chair

Gordon Howell head shot -- 2012 November in ViennaGordon Howell, Howell Mayhew Engineering and the Eco Solar Home Tour

Gordon is an electrical engineer with Howell Mayhew Engineering in Edmonton.  He has 30 years experience in designing and developing solar-electric systems.  The solar-electric system on his house was the first grid-connected system west of Toronto in 1995 and the 12th in Canada.  Since then he has worked with Alberta’s government, electricity regulators, utilities and municipalities to remove barriers to solar-electric systems so that Alberta can be ready for wide-scale solar electricity.  He was on the team that designed and built Edmonton’s first three net-zero-energy houses.  His goal is to see affordable net-zero-energy homes become the least-cost housing option.

Kyle Kasawski HeadshotKyle Kasawski, Landmark Group

Kyle is one of the leading experts in the Canadian solar industry. He was named Solar Advocate of the Year in 2009 by the Canadian Solar Industries Association and was noted by Edmonton’s Avenue Magazine as “arguably Alberta’s most influential solar-power advocate.” Since 2002, Kyle has founded and co-founded five successful businesses in the solar industry. Kyle is currently is the General Manager of Landmark Power and Landmark Solar Productions with the Landmark Group of Builders. 

klaas_rodenburg-1Klaas Rodenberg, Stantec and Alberta Council of Technologies

Klaas has more than 35 years of experience in the building design industry, has been the Sustainable Design Coordinator at Stantec for the last decade, and is the CEO of the Alberta Centre of Excellence for Building Information Modelling (aceBIM). He has a BA in Industrial Design and an MA in Communication and Technology. He is a LEED Accredited Professional with the CaGBC and ENV Sustainable Professional with the ISI. Klaas was the project manager for the NetZero Duplex for Habitat for Humanity – see pictures and videos at and  – and is currently part of the study team looking at the state of art in Fusion Energy and developing a roadmap for Alberta’s potential role in developing this clean fuel for the future – see Edmonton Journal article



Paul Cabaj, SPARK Power

Carla Meyer, Bullfrog Power



Meet the architects, builders, and renovators behind some of Edmonton’s most impressive sustainable buildings.

ChrisBuyzeChris Buyze, Battle Lake Design Group

Chris is a past Avenue Magazine Top 40 Under 40 honoree, current president of the Downtown Edmonton Community League, and a partner in Battle Lake Design Group, a full-service residential design firm specializing in design and development of sustainable residential and smaller-scale mixed-use buildings. Chris works with both rural and urban clients to design energy-efficient ‘modern vernacular’ homes that are not only functional, sustainable and possible, but aesthetically beautiful in design and material use. BLDG use a wide range of proven sustainable materials, but are known in Western Canada for their expertise in straw bale building design and construction. BLDG’s work beautifully combines contemporary residential architecture and a sense of place to lift straw bale construction from its rural, grassroots origins into an urban context, and was featured in the Homes section of the Edmonton Journal.

ShafraazKaba_viaGEFShafraaz Kaba, Manasc Isaac Architects
Shafraaz is a partner and architect at Manasc Isaac, a member of the Alberta Association of Architects and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and holds Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies and Master of Architecture degrees from Dalhousie University. Manasc Isaac are known for cutting-edge sustainable architecture for extreme climates and their stewardship of numerous successful LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects through collaborative, integrated planning and construction processes. Their goal is the creation of beautiful, healthy, sustainable, climate-adaptive and net-zero buildings that make positive contributions to their communities.
Shafraaz is also a past Avenue Magazine Top 40 Under 40 honoree, and a founding member of both Media, Art, and Design Exposed (M.A.D.E.) In Edmonton Society, who create public design events, and the Edmonton Design Committee, who review projects for downtown Edmonton. His work has taken him from Canada to London and Pakistan, and he has written for the Edmonton Journal, Canadian Architect, AZURE, Canadian Interiors and Avenue Magazine, as well as his blog Chasing Net Zero on the construction of his own home.

dalerott-headshotDale Rott, Effect Home Builders

With 20 years of building experience, Dale consistently pursues methods to increase the performance of houses.  From using R2000 principles in the early 90’s, to being a pioneer in Alberta implementing ICF for above-grade walls, to building at Net-Zero standards he has always looked for practical ways to balance durability, design, and occupant comfort.

Being a custom home builder, Effect Home Builders is able to promote the benefits of high-performance to a spectrum of clients looking for quality, comfort, utility savings, and reducing environmental impact.  Winning local, provincial, and national environmental awards Effect is focused on producing sustainable homes. 

Screen Shot 2012-10-12 at 4.35.40 PMShanthu Mano, Carbon Busters and C Returns
Shanthu is a green entrepreneur, increasing the end use efficiency of existing buildings and designing new zero carbon and PassivHaus buildings through her business, Carbon Busters. With a background in Business, Psychology and Education, Shanthu has over 15 years of experience in managing programs that facilitate environmental education, project-based curriculum and sustainable and LEED® compliant building materials and designs.

Shanthu is one of the founding directors of C Returns, making homes and community buildings more energy efficient with over 209 product combinations that can save money and carbon in the City of Edmonton.

An active member of the community, Shanthu sits on several boards including the Livia Stoyke Foundation, the Provincial and National Working Groups for the Education for Sustainable Development (Alberta ESD Working Group/ESD Canada) and recently, the Greater Edmonton Alliance. Shanthu is passionate about sustainable communities and the promise they hold for our future. She has lived in an off-grid solar home for the last 22 years and is currently working on designing and building a project-based sustainable school, residences, farm and commercial buildings within the context of a zero carbon ecological village.

Tanya Rumak photoTanya Rumak, Landmark Group

Tanya is a passionate advocate for the environment, and loves finding sustainable solutions to modern-day living. She is currently the Sustainability and Public Relations Manager at Landmark Group of Builders, an Alberta homebuilder targeting affordable Net Zero energy homes.  After completing her Bachelor’s degree at the University of British Columbia, Tanya relocated to Alberta accepting a job in municipal sustainability.  Her current role at Landmark encompasses multiple aspects of corporate sustainability including carbon foot printing, waste reduction, product Life Cycle Analysis, and communications. 


Amelie Caron, EcoSynergy

EcoSYNERGY was founded in 2008. Amelie Caron, CEO, has been in the industry since 1999. She has worked in different areas of the home construction industry, always promoting energy efficiency across the country (Montréal, QC to Edmonton, AB). She began with NRCan’s Energuide for Homes program (today Ecoenergy), which promotes energy efficient renovations, going on to new construction, on-site training and consulting in high efficiency housing i.e: Energuide 86 and/or Net-Zero Energy Goal. EcoSYNERGY has now become one of the LEED for Homes providers in Alberta (in partnership with Ecoammo). Recently she has accomplished a Masters Degree in Building Science and Sustainable at the Danube University Krems in Austria. Her master thesis was a comparison of the NZEH and the Passivhaus in regards to life cycle cost, carbon emissions, construction feasibility and primary energy requirements.

The goals of EcoSYNERGY are to educate trades and professionals in understanding building science and promoting “best practice” envelope construction.

Amelie also offers services such as building envelope troubleshooting, blower door testing at pre-drywall stage, thermal camera reading, drawing reviews and sustainable/ passive solar design assistance, climate analysis and material research. Just let her know of your needs and she will have the tools to assist you.

EcoSynergy believes that education and access to resources and training are the foundation for enhancing the residential construction industry. EcoSynergy’s vision is that all houses are: energy efficient, affordable, comfortable, sustainable and healthy.


Duncan Kinney, Green Energy Futures
Duncan is the editor and production manager of Green Energy Futures, an online storytelling project that helps Canadians understand and embrace green energy and energy efficiency solutions. Duncan has lived in a net-zero home and has done multiple stories on net-zero homes, passivhaus and other energy efficient types of housing. He is also helping his parents build an earthship this summer. 

362_37439321401_5885_nGodo Stoyke, C Returns and Carbon Busters


Godo is a green consultant and award-winning environmental researcher and presenter specializing in energy efficiency and zero carbon design for new and existing buildings. As President of Carbon Busters, Godo has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78 million kilograms CO2e and utility costs by over $26.6 million for its North American and European clients. A published author, Godo’s books, The Carbon Buster’s Home Energy Handbook and the Carbon Charter: a blueprint for a carbon free future, released by New Society Publishers are available in local bookstores across North America. 
Leveraging years of research, Godo and his partners now offer a program to Edmonton homes and community buildings, through a local non-profit, C Returns; beginning with home energy assessments to installation of energy efficient and renewable energy products with the best returns.
Table 5. PERMACULTURE – Our friends from the newly-formed Edmonton Permaculture Guild will explain how the principles of permaculture and adoption of appropriate technology can change our landscaping, water use, and habits to create more abundant, sustainable daily lives:
_DSC0856Jared Eglinski 
“I spent nearly 10 years backpacking around the world, living in every type of living condition known to man. I studied Permaculture under Geoff Lawton in Australia and have worked on projects in the arid regions of Mexico, up to the cold climate of the North. After returning to hometown Edmonton, I see this is the belly of the beast. Where the opportunity for catalytic change is at its highest potential. My goal is to assist others who flow along the same path reach success by sharing my knowledge and skills.”
mikes phone images download 4 891Mike Johnson
Mike works with Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning.  He leads the sustainability department in Edmonton.  He is a certified Permaculture designer, and a LEED accredited professional.  He has been involved with the Edmonton Permaculture Guild since 2011, and has lead 2 blitz builds in 2013 where he converted residential lawns into edible food forests.  To quote Geoff Lawton, “There is no problem in this world that can not be solved through a garden.”
Bob 2012-09-09Bob Reckhow, Budding Permaculture & Edmonton Permaculture Guild
Bob has lived in Edmonton for 38 years. He has been an amateur naturalist since childhood, and an activist in a variety of social, political, and environmental causes since the 1960s. With a PhD in computer science, Bob has worked in academia, IT, and building management. Bob discovered permaculture in 2010 and has been active in the Edmonton permaculture community since then. He founded Budding Permaculture in 2013 and is a founding board member of the Edmonton Permaculture Guild. He plans to build a self-reliant community around a commercial farm designed by adapting Restoration Agriculture to the Edmonton area.
Shelaine2014_2Shelaine Sparrow, Living Ecology Design & Edmonton Permaculture Guild
Shelaine is the owner/operator of Living Ecology Design – an emerging permaculture and placemaking agency. Inspired to facilitate beautiful places that sustain life, Shelaine employs a collaborative approach to designing landscapes where people live. Guided by permaculture principles, she supports clients in realizing a story of place that produces multiple yields while benefitting the natural and social ecologies of present and future. She is a founding board member of the Edmonton Permaculture Guild.
Della 2010bDella Dennis, Urban Green CoHousing
This year Della’s family home in Old Strathcona is 100 years old. As much as she likes the quality and character of older homes, when her children moved out, she felt she could no longer justify the inefficiencies and environmental cost of living in a single-family dwelling. However, there were few housing options that would allow her to maintain a rich community life, and none that met the environmental standards she wanted. She realized she would have to figure out how to build something herself. She found other people who shared her interests and values and together they are building the Urban Green Cohousing community. 

Tim Kabarchuk, Urban Green CoHousing

“I am a lifelong self-directed learner with insatiable curiosity. My pursuit of knowledge has led me to become passionate about sustainable energy, energy efficient building design, urban design, alternative economic systems, co-operative living models and consensus decision making. The culmination of my passions has led me to my involvement with Urban Green Cohousing Society. My life experience to this point has led me to believe that contentment in life is attained through process and not achievement. While achievement is often a result of process, satisfaction is derived by how we do what we do.”

brianBrian Scott, Communitas Group 
Brian is the Marketing, Technology & Research Director and Project Manager of the Communitas Group, a consulting firm who provide client groups with all the skills, management and knowledge required to develop affordable, sustainable multi-unit cooperative housing projects. The Communitas Group have collaborated with private developers and continuing housing cooperatives, home ownership cooperatives, mixed tenure cooperatives, community based land trusts, cohousing groups, non-profit companies and societies developing purpose built housing. Since the late 90′s, Communitas has brought together the concepts of affordable and environmentally sustainable and energy efficient design through the adoption of integrated design, life cycle costing, green loans, and Passivhaus design. Brian is responsible for the technical research and development programs for building design and environmental quality, and he will share his knowledge of environmental building design and construction. Communitas’s most recent sustainable development initiative is Station Pointe Greens, a multi-family, multi-coop community that plans to achieve Passive House certification.

Tegan Martin-Drysdale, Redbrick Inc. and Infill Development in Edmonton Association

A LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) accredited civil engineer, Tegan has broad experience in how buildings come together from the perspectives of the designer, architect, contractor and supplier all the way through to the client. She has first-hand experience in structural engineering and project management of mixed use, commercial, and residential projects. Tegan was previously involved with the Riverdale Community League as their Sustainability Director and the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues as the organizer of the Edmonton Community Challenge. She believes strongly in working with local communities and engaging citizens on development projects and initiatives in their neighbourhoods. Tegan is also current President of the Infill Development in Edmonton Association, who advocate for high-quality infill development, and a past Avenue Magazine Top 40 Under 40 honoree. 

Mike Mellross is the Corporate Environmental Management Program Manager in the Sustainable Development Department of the City of Edmonton. He led the development of the Green Building Policy and Plan in 2011.  In 2013, he worked with a team professionals and stakeholders to develop Edmonton’s Green Home Guide. Current projects include a detailed return on investment analysis on building to the LEED standard.  Mike is also actively involved with the airshed and the development of the Capital Region’s Particulate Matter Management Plan. 

Dave Turnbull is the Product Development Manager for the Landmark Group of Builders based out of Edmonton, Alberta. Dave has over 25 years in the homebuilding industry working in all areas from Trades to the supply chain. Landmark has always had sustainable development leanings and in 2007 Dave was charged with formalizing these into a program and moving Landmark into a leadership position for sustainability in the homebuilding industry.  In a market where EnerGuide 72-74 is the norm, Landmark has over 90% of its product line (1000 homes per year) over EnerGuide 82, and at market price. Dave also serves the industry as the President of Built Green Canada and locally as Chair of CHBA-Edmonton’s Environment Committee. Landmark Group have had some success in lowering the cost of achieving Net Zero by using prefabrication techniques (described in a presentation archived here).