Can you see through the future? — Capturing technological and environmental opportunities

The Salus project -- Ottawa's first passive house institutional project
Public buildings in Austria, Germany, Belgium and other European countries are built to Passive House standards — with energy-efficiency levels considered unimaginable in North America — but some projects are taking shape here under the new model.

Some of us, some of the time, have a seemingly uncanny ability to see the future. Of course, we only know if we are right with hindsight — but, if we get it and then run with the forward-thinking approach, we enjoy incredible marketing and business success.

I can’t claim to be at the level of the contractors who embraced BIM and Integrated Design early enough that they are hands-on leaders in the field, or others who have managed to leapfrog the environmental sustainability movement and become recognized experts on the topic. Maybe I’ve had some success at marketing communications — this blog, after all, is among the first in the industry and has led to some amazing experiences and relationships.

The Salus project -- Ottawa's first passive house institutional project
Salus Clementine — Ottawa’s first ?institutional Passive House project, a residence for individuals with mental health challenges

Yet, what about the future initiatives that didn’t work, that led to dead-ends, or (perhaps most frustratingly) were developed by former industry leaders initially but lost in the shuffle or because of competing entrenched interests? (Kodak researchers, after all, pioneered the digital camera — but I can certainly see executives there hoping this bright idea would die a quick death, because it would eventually kill the film industry, and ultimately Kodak — only to be superceded by the smart phone.)

The best answer, it seems, may not be to strive to be the first in the bleeding edge of new technologies, approaches or models, but to look closely at the trends elsewhere and then, if you can, adopt these to your location, market niche/speciality, or both, and then go all-in to become the leader in the field.

I’m seeing this stuff happen in front of my eyes with Passive House technology — the European model for sustainable, energy-efficient construction — that is finding its early adaptors in North America.

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