A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
Introducing, We are #OKGNtech. A showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Trevor. Trevor Butler is the CEO of Archineers, assistant professor at Athabasca University, and founder for Earth Tube Systems and Matchbox Energy. When he’s not helping to create sustainable engineering solutions, you’ll find Trevor enjoying the Okanagan with his family or practicing his celebrity impersonations.
Where are you from?
Originally, I am from the UK, moved to the Okanagan 12 years ago. I was an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University in the School of Architecture, working as an engineer providing input onto green buildings and education. Gradually, I picked up some projects and was commuting back and forth for quite a bit—between the UK and Canada.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
Fundamentally, I work as an engineer in sustainable cleantech construction. I have an engineering firm called Archineers, I’m also an Assistant Professor at the Athabasca University which is an online university. Then I’ve got two startup companies, Earth Tube Systems and Matchbox Energy.
What do you do there?
Through Archineers, we provide engineering design on buildings and community planning, helping them get to net-zero. At Athabasca, I provide technical guidance on buildings, green buildings, infrastructure systems, renewable energy, water recycling, and natural materials. Earth Tube Systems is a way of providing natural cooling to buildings and improve air quality without any greenhouse gases. Matchbox Energy is a simple tool for calculating your carbon footprint and energy modelling of their house, school, office or workplace
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Green energy is an important issue of our time. We’re not helpless, we know what we need to do. There’s plenty of solutions out there. In the Okanagan, our climate is perfect for using a lot of passive technologies and systems that work with the climate that we have. There’s a desire in me, once something has been designed and tested, to really roll it out into the mainstream. We know what needs to be done, it’s not too complicated, and there’s a commercial route to doing that.
How did you get into this kind of work?
I worked with a young firm and the three partners there were inspirational. They put a lot of trust in me, they encouraged me to grow, and I discovered a huge opportunity in sustainable solutions that wasn’t really being occupied. It was something that I was so enthusiastic and passionate about learning. I remember the first time where a client said “okay, we’re going to put in a rainwater system and recycle it and use it for flushing the toilets,” I was on cloud nine for days.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Just be hungry to learn. Don’t feel intimidated. The construction industry is tough, you have to choose your opportunities carefully when you want to make that impact. You may not agree with what they’re doing, they may have old fashioned practices, but there are still some core skills that the industry needs. Work where you feel you can have the biggest impact on developing a sustainable solution. But you need to know where your expertise stops and where other people’s starts. You have to be patient and be prepared to have a few knockbacks.
How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?
I worked with Lane Merrifield and the other architects on an early design for the Kelowna Innovation Centre. I developed the concepts with colleagues of mine, but this building is a total game-changer for the entire community. It brings people together from so many backgrounds, it’s very accessible. That was my introduction to the #OKGNtech community. As a small business, doing the work that I’m doing, it’s amazing to have the community around.
Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?
In February, the innovation centre hosted the Building Net Zero event—with over a hundred people from government, city, academia and industry—I would like to see more opportunities for our community to come together like that. The city and university leadership in the new downtown UBC-O zero-carbon, net-positive building is fantastic, and an excellent example of what could be done by working together for future generations in our community.