The future is green: Alumnus and CEO of Properate says green buildings can help us live healthier and solve the climate crisis

Before becoming an award-winning founder and CEO in the green building space, Arman Mottaghi was a student in Iran, finishing his bachelor’s degree in urban planning. In 2014, he immigrated from Iran to complete his Master of Applied Science in Building Engineering at BCIT.

This move to Canada meant he had to learn not only a new language and culture, but also a completely new concept of building design.

“In Iran, buildings are all masonry, so they are built with stone bricks,” Arman explains. “But in Canada, the materials are very different and the architecture of buildings are fundamentally different.”

Those barriers didn’t stand in his way of completing his master’s in 2018 and incorporating Properate, a green building software solution, formerly known as Lambda Science, only months later.

As the recent winner of the 2021 Canada Green Building Council award for Emerging Green Leader in Green Buildings, the alumnus is now recognized nationally for his significant contribution and commitment to making energy-efficient homes that both address the climate crisis and help people live healthier lives.

Making green building technology as glamourous as self-driving cars

Arman says he’s on a mission to make low-rise residential buildings more energy efficient and to make the process for doing so as easy as ordering pizza. His company aims to give homeowners and professionals a roadmap needed to green their buildings.

He shares why he is so passionate about creating energy-efficient spaces: “Improving the energy performance of a building isn’t only about sustainability and ensuring the building doesn’t deteriorate in 50 or 75 years. It means the people inside are going to be healthier and happier.”

“Just like we are living breathing things, our buildings also need to be those living things that are responding to the environment,” the alumnus adds, highlighting that the pandemic and climate emergency have only emphasized this need.

Transitioning to a greener way of building comes with a unique set of challenges. Arman says that the green building industry needs more financial backing to make necessary long-lasting changes. He believes investing in green technologies will provide more equity, which creates a happier and more engaged society.

Another challenge noted by Arman is the perceptions of green tech: “A lot of money goes into exciting tech initiatives like self-driving cars, but when people think of green buildings, they just think of renovations. There’s still a lot of conversations to have.”

He’s committed to growing his company and optimizing solutions to make green buildings the way of the future in Canada and beyond.

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Discovering an award-winning solution at BCIT

When it came to deciding where to study, Arman says the potential to make industry connections and graduate with job-ready skills made BCIT stand out against other institutions.

While a student, he took advantage of those industry connections. He worked for a BCIT instructor, Hamid Heidarali, learning the ins and outs of his engineering firm, Hamid Design Build, and gaining invaluable in-person experience, from which he was able to identify the need for more industry automation.

Using his background in writing software, Arman created demo software that would draft a roadmap of the steps required to make residential buildings energy efficient.

After testing out this software while working for Hamid, he founded Properate in 2018 and made his first hire in 2019. Arman says the team is growing. He’s even hired two BCIT alumni that were recruited from a BCIT Hackathon event for which he was a judge.

What advice does Arman have for BCIT students and alumni interested in entrepreneurship?

“If you’re at BCIT, work on your business idea or project while you’re there and use all the resources you can,” Arman shares, adding that this also applies to alumni already in the workforce.

Arman argues that great business ideas don’t happen overnight: “There’s this idea from big entrepreneurs that they put everything on the line and just became an overnight success, but that’s not how it really is. Let your entrepreneurship journey be a natural progression.”

Learn more about the School of Construction and the Environment and the Master of Applied Science in Building Engineering program at BCIT.

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