Fin MacDonald

Information on me and my current projects

Category Archives: Volunteer Work

What EGBs are doing across the country to engage students and new professionals

At the recent CaGBC National Conference in Toronto the EGB National Committee presented a poster presentation to highlight what sort of events EGBs across Canada have been doing to attract students and new professionals to the green industry.  I designed the poster, which contained a submission from each CaGBC chapter across Canada outlining an event that they hosted and the impact it had on those who attended.  The poster was on display this week in the Expo Hall at the conference.  A copy of the poster is below.  Here is a description of the events:



Halifax EGBs hosted a social for BuildGreen Atlantic, which is the local green building conference.  Social events bring EGBs and other chapter members together to network share ideas.


At the Quebec Chapter’s GreenDating participants had the opportunity to learn about the Living Building Challenge during the cocktail hour. Afterwards students and young professionals met with employers and participated in a job fair in the form of a speed-dating activity.


Ottawa’s Green Jobs 101 is an educational job skills event. Presentations from professionals introduce the different types of jobs available in the green building industry and the skills required to do them well. After the presentations attendees have the chance to meet with the presenters.


Toronto holds an annual Green Building Bike Tour. The tour focuses on buildings that have sustainable features and provides participants the opportunity to exercise, learn, and be inspired.


Winnipeg EGBs held a green building trivia night at a local pub. Trivia nights educate participants on green building and also allow for networking opportunities.


In Moose Jaw, EGBs partnered with a local ASHRAE group to take a group of students for a tour of a local LEED building. Hard-hat tours are a great way to learn about building materials and construction methods.


The Edmonton EGB’s coordinate a bike tour along the Edmonton Eco-Solar Home Tour to raise awareness of local environmental construction as well as provide a healthy alternative to transportation.


Vancouver held a speed mentoring event similar to speed dating, which connected EGBs with industry professionals to get career advice and insight.



EGB Poster Presentation - 2014 - 11x17


2014 Emerging Green Builder Leadership Award

I was recently presented with the 2014 Emerging Green Builder Leadership Award from the Canada Green Building Council.  This is a tremendous honour for me, and is in recognition of the volunteer work I have done both locally with the Ottawa Chapter of the CaGBC, and nationally with the EGB National Committee.  There are so many people across the country who work hard and also deserve this award, so it was an huge honour to have been chosen by the selection committee.  Thank you to everyone involved, and to those who nominated me.

The Emerging Green Builder Leadership Award recognizes a deserving student or young professional who has made a significant contribution to advocating, educating or practicing green building and/or community development. This individual is recognized as a leader among their peers and has a strong commitment to change. (Source:

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Green Jobs 101 – Success again in 2014

For the 2nd year in a row the Ottawa Region Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council held Green Jobs 101.  This year’s instalment was held in late March.  While we didn’t sell out like last year, we did draw a great crowd considering ASHRAE was holding a career fair at Algonquin College the same week.  10 industry professionals presented on job skills and career paths.  Companies in attendance included:

Morrison Hershfield
CSV Architects
Ashlar Homes
Sustainable and Renewable Technology Canada
WSP Group
Carleton University
In Da Industry
CaGBC Ottawa Region Chapter

The format to this event was similar to last year, but did have some small changes

Part 1: Job presentations by each of the 8 companies in attendance (5 mins each).  Presentations included information about the presenters, their companies, the types of jobs people do at their companies, and the types of skills that they value most.

Part 2: Motivational Speech by Jewne Johnson of In Da Industry called “The Next Step.”  Her empowering presentation explained steps you can take to turn your dreams into realities.

Part 3: Speed dating – This consisted of 1-on-1 sessions between the industry professionals presenting in part 1 which lasted 4 minutes each.  This is by far the most unique and valuable part of the event.

We were able to get a bigger projection screen this year to help make sure everyone could read the slides.  We weren’t able to have professional audio as I had hoped because of budget limitations, but the event went great without it.  We are already looking forward to next year.

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Adapting to Climate Change: A EGB Lecture Event

On Wednesday November 6th the Ottawa Emerging Green Builders held a fall lecture event themed around Climate Change and what is being done to reduce mankind’s impact.  The event was held at Carleton University and was free for the general public.  The lineup of speakers included:

Geoff Green – Adventurer, Educator, and Environmentalist
Dr. Elena Kreuzberg – Conservation Biologist
Fin MacDonald (me!) – Sustainability Analyst at Morrison Hershfield
Craig Goodman – Principal Architect at CS&P Architects Inc.

Geoff Green spoke of the damage to the environment he has seen first hand through his work as a polar explorer. His captivating and inspiring speech was a highlight of the event.  Dr. Elena Kreuzberg explained the science behind global warming and showed some examples of its impact throughout history.  I gave a speech on one of the corporate solutions to climate change: Greenhouse Gas Accounting.  Craig Goodman wrapped up the event with a presentation on designing building for the future, even when their future uses aren’t known.  He called it designing for the “anonymous client.”

The event was attended by Carleton University students and professionals in the green industry.  Special thanks to Liam O’Brien of Carleton University for getting us a lecture room for the event.

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This is me speaking at our recent climate change event


Speaker Panel Poster

Green Jobs 101: An EGB Job Skills Event

On Thursday April 4th the Ottawa Emerging Green Builders held what will become the first annual Green Jobs 101 job skills event.  The event was organized by myself and Imran Hamdad of our committee.  12 industry professionals presented on job skills and career paths to a sold out crowd of 65 attendees.  Companies in attendance included:

Morrison Hershfield
Canada Green Building Council
Arborus Consulting
InAIR Environmental
Vert Design
ANF Energy Solutions

The format to this event was very unique.  The event ran for two hours and the event schedule was as follows:

Part 1: Job presentations by each of the 11 companies in attendance (5 mins each).  Presentations included information about the presenters, their companies, they types of jobs people do at their companies, and the types of skills that they value most.  Each presenter took a different approach to this and the result was a diverse offering that even some of the industry professionals learned from.

Part 2: Skills session – How to develop a portfolio (10 minutes).  Portfolios are a physical representation of your skills, interests, and attitudes.  They are often overlooked but can give you real edge in an interview because they support the claims on your resume with hard evidence.  I presented on what can be included in a portfolio as well as the benefits they bring.

Part 3: Speed dating – This consisted of 1-on-1 sessions between the industry professionals presenting in part 1 and 2 which lasted 3 minutes each.

After the event was over we issued an online survey to those who attended to find out how we did and get some feedback for next year.  70% of those who responded said that they were very satisfied with the event overall, and the remaining 30% were satisfied.  Some tips we received to make the event better next year included:

  • Increase the time for 1-on-1 sessions from 3 minutes to 5 minutes
  • Have a bigger projection screen
  • Have all speakers use a microphone
  • Make the event longer
  • Have more industry participants representing more career paths

We fully intend to follow this advice and I can’t wait to make Green Jobs 101 even better in 2014!

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2012 Volunteer of the Year – Ottawa Region Chapter of the CaGBC

I was recently honored with the award for 2012 Volunteer of the Year by the Ottawa Region Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council.  The Ottawa chapter is successful because of the hard work of a great group of volunteers.  I was very surprised to receive the award at the annual general meeting.  Thank you to everyone.


CaGBC Ottawa Region Emerging Green Builders

I have been volunteering for the past year with the Canada Green Building Council’s Emerging Green Builders (EGB).  The EGB work with their local CaGBC chapters to put on events for students and new professionals.  The main goal is to attract young and new professionals to the green industry.  Another benefit of the EGB committee is that it allows new professionals to take on group leadership roles earlier in their careers, and is training the CaGBC leaders of tomorrow.  I am currently the Vice-Chair of the Ottawa Region EGB, and in the past I held the role of Finance Director.

In Ottawa we have had one successful year already and we have an ambitious plan for another great year ahead.  In the past we have held events like:

  • Holiday Party
  • Residential Panel Discussion for Green Homes
  • Green Building Bike Tour

We also assisted the Ottawa CaGBC Chapter with the Eco-Logical student design competition.

We will be running similar events again this year. We also have plans to host a Green Jobs 101 event which will showcase different green career options and give attendees the chance to discuss required skills and job opportunities 1-on-1 with industry leaders.

If you are interested attending events or joining your local EGB group, contact your local CaGBC chapter (

Evolve Music & Awareness Festival

This time of year I am swamped with preparation work for the Evolve Music and Awareness Festival. Evolve was conceived over 12 years ago by my close friend Joe MacEachern, and the Evolve team is now lead by Jonas Colter. Jonas has transformed the festival into a world class event in recent years, and it has recently been voted the #1 music festival in Canada by the listeners of CBC Radio 3. I have been volunteering with the Evolve Festival for 7 years now, and it has been a very satisfying experience. Evolve has strived since the beginning to be as environmentally friendly as possible. This was not as mainstream 12 years ago as it is today.

My work with the Evolve Festival traditionally involves making sure that all the Artists, VIP, Vendors, Medics, and of course Staff have their passes and security clearance, and working the gate to greet them on Friday. Preparing the backstage passes alone takes over 2 weeks of work in the evenings leading up to the show. I am also always available to help others with whatever they need leading up to the show. This year I plan to take it a step further and use some of my new skills to conduct a full energy assessment of the Evolve Festival. This will be a particularly interesting task for me because it is so different than any other energy audit I have done. Using energy sustainably fits excellently with Evolve’s environmental philosophy.

The festival won’t be all work and no fun of course, and there are over 120 different acts performing this year. For more information on the Evolve Festival vist

Junior Achievement Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame

Last night I attended the annual Junior Achievement Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame gala. As a volunteer with Junior Achievement I am invited to this prestigious event every year. Once a year they get together to induct three new laureates into the hall of fame. The event included a reception and networking period, three course meal, and an awards ceremony.

This years laureates were:

1) Robert (Bob) Kelly, chairman and CEO of the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation

2) Sharon and Richard Calder, founders and owners of Charm Diamond Centres

3) The late Rose Schwartz, co-founder and owner of Schwartz Clothing

The event was hosted by students who took part in the junior achievement program this year, who will likely be the business leaders of tomorrow. Lynn Coveyduck who is the head of JA Nova Scotia presented some interesting research data from the Boston Consulting Group. It turns out that JA students are far more likely to get a college education, earn higher wages, and be successful than those who don’t take the program. We have always known this but thanks to the Boston Consulting Group it is now quantifiable.

I would like to thank all the sponsors of the evening, especially Cox & Palmer who was my sponsor for the evening. All together the event raised over $200,000 for JA Nova Scotia.