Discussing Sustainability with Philip Brearton, P.Eng., LEED AP
In celebration of Earth Day 2022, Cion would like to spotlight Philip Brearton, P.Eng., LEED AP. Philip joined Cion’s executive team in 2017, and his client focused approach coupled with his innovative ideas have been instrumental to Cion’s success and growth.
We would like to thank Philip for his hard work leading Cion’s sustainability initiatives and spearheading our efforts as we work towards achieving net zero carbon.
In your opinion, what has to be in place for sustainability changes to persist long term, across national boundaries and economic sector? What strategies has Cion prepared or already has in place to cope with these issues?
I have a three-part answer to the first question:
• Most importantly, action is needed at the government level. Expecting the private sector to ‘do the right thing’ will tend to fail because the prime focus for companies is and will always be to maximize profits and maintain long term competitiveness. Governments need to make policies so that sustainable business practices become attractive to companies.
• Sustainability will always require government leadership, preferably at the national and international levels. With the current lack of national leadership in North America, municipalities such as Toronto and Vancouver have developed municipal standards. Regardless of which level of government, the carrot (incentives) and stick (taxes and regulation) are the typical model.
• Particularly in the hyper-polarized political environment, sustainability must return to a non-partisan political topic as it was until approximately 20-years ago. Until very recently, the political right had long believed that investing in the environment makes strong economic sense. Mulroney and Reagan, for instance, were both strong environment advocates, as was Theodore Roosevelt in the 1800’s.
With regards to Cion, we have recently decided to measure our company carbon footprint and take steps towards net zero carbon. Meanwhile, we continue to build our energy modeling, HVAC design, and high-performance building envelope research and design teams.
What are the sustainable managing strategies that you are most excited about? In general, what are leading companies in the Building Science and Engineering sector doing today to make a sustainable future a reality?
As a consulting firm, the work-from-home option and office hoteling model certainly reduces our carbon footprint but, by far, our biggest impact on global warming is our success in making our client’s buildings more energy efficient, affordable, and low risk.
What does a sustainable business, specifically related to sustainability management, look like in 2030 or 2050?
Compared to 2050, the 2030-time frame is far more interesting and critical because we are currently in the midst of learning how to build and renovate to net zero carbon building standards. This is critical, of course, because we need to act quickly to avoid an increase in extremely expensive natural disasters (ex. wildfires, tornadoes, crop failures, heat domes, famines, and related water-resource war). By 2050, achieving a net-zero carbon building will be the routine practice, involving technology and know-how that will be both commonplace and uncontroversial.
What are you the proudest of in your personal achievements regarding sustainability?
My personal contribution is modest in comparison to those who have volunteered their personal time to sustainability focused lobbying and promotion. My spouse and I drive electric and hybrid vehicles while our adult son chooses not to own a vehicle. We have improved our house energy efficiency over the past 15-years with various insulation and air tightness projects. We have also deliberately reduced our beef consumption. At every opportunity, I make the major political parties aware that their environmental goals and record will affect my vote.