Darla grew up spending summers camping with her family, cultivating a deep connection with nature. In grade 3 she wrote in her journal she wanted to be an environmental lawyer, in grade 11 it was a park ranger, today she works to decarbonize our homes and workplaces. While the details have changed, her drive has not. Darla has spent her whole career in sustainability. First in advocacy bringing attention to the threat of climate change, then helping empower students and staff in the K-12 sector to reduce energy and water waste in schools. In 2003 she founded the Elements Society to deliver the Destination Conservation program in schools across western Canada. In 2011, Darla joined SES Consulting, a social enterprise and B-Corp specializing in low-carbon retrofits of existing buildings. Her role was to develop the Sustainability Services offering: education, training and designing sustainability programs for clients. Darla also holds the title of Director of Sustainability and Culture at SES.
The Strata Energy Advisor (SEA) program was originally envisioned as a concierge-style program giving multi-unit residential strata owners access to information and resources to make smart, energy-wise, decisions around managing their buildings, particularly when major mechanical or building envelope systems were due for replacement. Energy advisors would complete a walk-through energy assessment of the building, document building systems, and prepare a business case for the strata-council including simple “tune-up” measures to reduce energy waste right through to full end-of-life replacement of major building systems. In an updated program, we hope to support strata-owners to map a path to decarbonize their buildings, with every retrofit project moving them closer to a net-zero building while improving air quality and comfort, reducing noise, and helping to maintain the stock of affordable condominium units in British Columbia. This would be one part of an ecosystem of programs to support this building sector, including new rebate programs.
The SEA program started as a pilot developed by the Metro Vancouver Regional District. SES Consulting successfully bid to develop and deliver the pilot as proof of concept that the complex ownership of multi-unit residential strata-owned buildings could be moved to invest in energy efficiency. After a very successful pilot, the program went into hiatus and hasn’t been reactivated. Through her work developing the pilot and collaborating with strata residents, Darla saw the need for this kind of program support and the potential for transformative change. Since then, she has been determined to revitalize the SEA program.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
I’ve always had a drive to work on environmental issues, and particularly energy and climate change. As I learned more about social justice issues, I started to see how climate, energy, health, and housing affordability intersect. Multi-family buildings typically house lower-income individuals, and a higher proportion of young and older demographics compared to single-family homes. I also saw how they were excluded from most government and utility energy efficiency programs, despite making up 24% of British Columbia’s residential housing market. I’m determined to fill the support gap to decarbonize multi-family buildings, not only to maintain affordable housing in our region, but reduce energy poverty and mitigate health risks associated with climate change.