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Investing in Indigenous Communities

By Tom Jackson, Director of Community Engagement

Indigenous communities value sustainability as a core value. Not only is it a big motivator within the community, it offers key benefits—both environmental and socially.

In order to achieve sustainability, however, the quality of life in remote communities is heavily impacted by having access to sustainable building practices. Incorporating materials and processes that are environmentally friendly, durable, climate-resilient, and cost-conscious can have a major impact on these communities.

To help with that goal, I’ve recently joined ZS2 Technologies as the Director of Community Engagement to help bring sustainable affordable housing to Indigenous communities across Canada.

Over the past 20 years as a Founding Partner of Greensmart Homes, and President and CEO of Earthcel and Dreamcatcher Housing Ltd, I’ve been working to develop and market innovative solutions for affordable housing. As our rural and Indigenous communities build and grow, it is vital they look to the future and ensure they are built with the environment, resilience, and longevity in mind. Affordable housing can literally save lives, so I’m excited to work with the team at ZS2 Technologies in providing access to these industry-leading building solutions.

So what exactly are Indigenous communities looking for when it comes to community development, and how can sustainable building solutions like ZS2 help? Let’s take a look.

What Indigenous Communities Need

This is what we acknowledge.

Durability & Affordability

When it comes to community projects, durability and cost-conscious building are major factors in the planning and building processes. Prioritizing these key areas helps ensure the cost of living and upkeep can be maintained at a reasonable cost to the community, especially in remote areas.

Access to Resources & Labor

Because of the nature of remote Indigenous communities, there are several building challenges—including access to resources and labor—which need to be considered when planning remote projects.

Climate Resilience

Climate represents a unique challenge for remote Indigenous communities. These communities face unique challenges—including floods, wildfires, and extreme temperatures—which have only become more severe and frequent in recent years. 

How ZS2 Can Help

ZS2’s proprietary magnesium oxysulfate cement formulation provides a low-carbon cement alternative that slashes embodied carbon by over 60%. The resulting TechBoard™ and TechPanels™ are used in the construction of building envelopes that:

  • Reduce energy consumption by an average of 50%
  • Are highly climate resilient
  • Are water, mould, pest, and fire resistant
  • Can be built in a matter of days, instead of weeks and months

This means that leveraging such solutions can allow Indigenous communities to build housing that:

  • Has a low carbon footprint
  • Is climate resilient
  • Is cost effective

Curious to see how this works in practice? Here are a few projects we’ve been working on.

Kanaka Bar Resilient Housing Solutions Project

ZS2 is one of the building envelope suppliers for the Kanaka Bar Indian Band’s Climate Resilient Housing initiative. This partnership between Kanaka Bar, SAIT, Foresight, Okanagan College, and Seko Construction aims to provide leading edge construction technologies to help the community rebuild after last year’s devastating wildfire.

ZS2 will work to rapidly build sustainable and resilient houses for the community so that families can get back into their homes as soon as possible.

Cambridge Bay, Nunavut Cultural Centre

ZS2 is partnering with the SAIT’s Green Building Technologies group and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut to finalize the design and use ZS2 TechPanels to build the ​​Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq/Kitikmeot Heritage Society’s new cultural centre.

The groundbreaking design for this new facility will create a highly efficient, durable, and resilient building for the Society to continue allowing the Inuinnait community to keep their language and culture in Cambridge Bay. It will also be used to set the bar for future buildings in Canada’s arctic.

The Path Forward


Using sustainable building technologies like those produced by ZS2 can have a long-term economic impact, empowering Indigenous communities with the building and development knowledge and best practices they need for everyone’s long-term benefit.

Now we would like to ask you to tell us “What you need”.

We at ZS2 invite Indigenous communities and builders to learn more about our focus on Investing in Indigenous Communities and how they can work with ZS2 to support their projects and plans.

Want to learn more about how we’re centering sustainable construction in our collaborations with Indigenous communities? Contact us.

By: Tom Jackson
Director of Community Engagement
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