Meet Marty Paradine, SCMT Professor

SCMT Professor Marty Paradine takes a break outdoors

'Buildings and the built environment are a major aspect of some of the greatest sustainability challenges of our time'

Q: What is your education and background?

A:  My education is as follows:

  • B.Sci. in Mechanical Engineering (University of Manitoba)
  • M.Sci. in Renewable Energy (Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany)
  • MBA (Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden)
  • Certified Energy Manager (Association of Energy Engineers)
  • Professional Engineer (APEGBC)

I have worked in the mining, oil and gas industries as an engineer and operations manager, before moving into my area of passion - sustainability and the built environment. I then acted as an energy consultant and have worked for the past eight years in municipal government: Fort St. John, B.C., as a Sustainability Manager and in Valleyview, Alberta, as a Chief Administrative Officer (Town Manager).

Q: What are your areas of interest?

A: My primary personal interests include cooking, fermenting things, guitar and music composition. I also enjoy martial arts and nearly all outdoor activities (running, kayaking, climbing, among others). I am further interested in Paleolithic principles and hunter/gather lifestyle elements in an effort to merge the best of these primal human habits with our modern advances and lifestyle. Some related hobbies I have include bow hunting, natural movement coaching/MovNat trainer, permaculture design, nutrigenomics and human longevity research.

Professionally, I am intrigued by sustainability issues at the community level and in how the built environment and municipal infrastructure relate to greater social, cultural and health outcomes.

Q: When did you know you had found your discipline?

A: My interest in this area originally stemmed from living on a farm and experiencing the value of closed-loop agriculture systems, our role as good stewards of the natural environment and how important these systems are to human and animal health. As an engineer, I was concerned with the deficiency of interdisciplinary approaches in engineering, typically resulting in too much reductionism in the employed approaches to complex sustainability issues. I began to see the need for a “whole systems” approach to optimization; particularly with buildings.

However, I ultimately knew I had found my discipline when I was reading the book “Natural Capitalism” in a trailer, avoiding the -47C outside temperature, smelling like fracking fluid, on an oil and gas lease near Fox Creek, Alberta.

Q: Why did you choose to work at Okanagan College?

A:  Honestly, it was due to the novelty of the SCMT program.  SCMT is the first post-secondary offering I have seen that provides nearly all the necessary pieces, in an integrated and cohesive manner, to properly tackle sustainable buildings and transform the built environment.  Consequently, I threw my name in for consideration, as I thought it would be a privilege to be part of such a relevant and robust program.

Q: What do you like most about the work you do?

A:  Learning from our diverse students whom come from many different backgrounds, countries and demographics.

Q: What advice do you have for new students?

A:  It is not all about grades. It is about learning, and what you retain to benefit you in life and your professional career.  Even if your academic experience feels fleeting, you will have learned how to be a better leaner and how to think more holistically and critically.  This will make you a better person and professional.  Accordingly, trust yourself, have confidence, be decisive, and embrace the unknown and uncomfortable.  We are defined by discomfort, adversity, and failure; but I know you will succeed or learn.

Q: Why do you think people should study SCMT?

A:  Buildings and the built environment are a major aspect of some of the greatest sustainability challenges of our time.  Human well-being is contingent on healthy, resilient, efficient, and comforting buildings.  Notwithstanding, realizing sustainable buildings is complex, and the inertia of detrimental approaches and unrestrained development is immense.  SCMT trains the next generation of practitioners with multidisciplinary thinking and integrated approaches to effectively develop ‘whole system’ solutions, and assert influence in reforming the construction industry. 

Q: If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently?

A:  No.  I own my decisions and appreciate all experiences.  We are the culmination of our environment, education and experiences.  I live in the present, with an eye to the future.

Q: Where are you the happiest?

A:  Beyond being with family, animals or in nature, I would say when I am alone with my breath in a 205F cedar-scent-filled sauna.

Q: If you ran the world?

A:  I would relinquish GDP as the primary economic indicator and measure of human progress.  It would be replaced with a well-being accounting model that measures all "capital" of importance to economic, ecological and social sustainability – financial capital, human capital, social capital, natural capital and built capital.  Moreover, currency/money as our means to carryout out transactions and discern wealth would be superseded by a new approach akin to bartering but with a modern twist.  A genuine wealth wallet would be built with self-validating block chain technology so that humans can exchange any assets of value – money, knowledge, time, material goods, food, information, skills, among others – in an effort to increase personal well-being and greater socioeconomic wealth.

Published By Public Affairs on December 9, 2020


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