Mass Timber Key to the Future of Sustainable Construction
His rise in the construction industry didn’t have a glamourous start or a straight path to success.
“My first job in construction was cleaning up garbage on job sites when I was 16,” recalls three-time BCIT alumnus Scott Comfort, now President of the award-winning construction contractor Seagate Mass Timber Inc.
Comfort attributes his career growth and success in the construction industry to education and mentorship. Earlier in his career, he discovered an opportunity in construction and found the BCIT Carpentry Apprenticeship program: “Never pigeonhole yourself. Always be open to what’s available and how education can help you grow in your career.”
After completing the apprenticeship program, Comfort returned to BCIT to complete his Red Seal in carpentry and the BCIT Construction Operations and Supervision programs to support his leadership roles. The combination of the apprenticeship, construction programs from BCIT, and professional experience also opened doors for Comfort to complete a master’s in leadership for business success.
“I’ve felt like every step in the industry that I’ve taken; there’s been education from BCIT to equip me with the tools needed to succeed.”
Comfort also shares that he had mentors who looked out for him along the way, provided feedback, and helped him find opportunities. That’s why he intends to give back by delivering his team at Seagate an environment that fosters the kind of growth he was fortunate to have experienced.
Touted for its high performance, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability, mass timber has been gaining popularity worldwide. Comfort explains that mass timber or engineered wood are building products manufactured by binding wood products together to form composite materials, adding with a laugh, “It’s like Lego for grown-ups.”
Comfort also speaks candidly about the importance of the positive environmental impact of mass timber for the future. Many types of mass timber can be made with waste wood, trees not usually utilized for structural material, or ethically farmed timber. When managed properly, this can save old-growth trees and avoid deforestation.
“It’s also exciting because I have kids,” says the father of three, thinking about the world the generation will inherit. “Finding ways for the construction industry to be more sustainable and more environmentally friendly, I think that’s a great win across the board.”
Illustrating the positive impact of mass timber construction, Comfort shares that Seagate recently completed a 10-storey, 300,000 square foot building in six months: “If you could imagine doing that project with concrete or steel, it would take at least 18 months. Mass timber construction leads to less waste overall, shorter project schedules, and reduced labour costs.”
“The mass timber industry is so young still,” Comfort says with excitement. “I think the growth we’ve seen is nothing compared to the growth we’re going to see over the next 10 to 15 years.”
To support the growth of the mass timber industry, the BCIT School of Construction and the Environment has developed the two-course micro credential Introductory Studies in Mass Timber Construction in consultation with Seagate. Comfort recently completed the program in 2021. He highly recommends the new BCIT Mass Timber Associate Certificate for those who want to expand their expertise.
To succeed in your career path, Comfort says understanding yourself and knowing where you want to go in your chosen industry is vital: “Always focus on growth. It doesn’t have to be big accomplishments every time. There’s value in every program, course, and experience as long as you’re moving towards your goals.”