Our next road trip stop is Calgary, AB, a city where they think big. It’s home to The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the second largest urban park in Canada, and the most volunteers per capita in Canada. The city’s energy and innovative spirit extend to the cleantech sector. While many ventures provide solutions for the oil, gas, and gas-related industries, there are also some interesting companies in the building industry. We dropped in (virtually!) to visit ZS2 Technologies, which has been creating buzz in Calgary and beyond.
Every year in the construction business, there continues to be more of an emphasis on how a building can be safer, more environmentally friendly, and more energy efficient.The President and CEO of ZS2 Technologies, one of Alberta’s newest building firms, believes his company will be able to do that with one proprietary building panel.
ZS2’s mission is to research and accelerate the development and adoption of construction technologies that are stronger, safer, and healthier for people and the planet.
“We really believe we are going to change the world,” says Scott Jenkins who has worked in the sector for the last 20 years with innovative Calgary-based companies Pure Technologies and DIRTT Environmental Solutions before starting ZS2 last March.
ZS2 develops and manufactures advanced building technologies using their proprietary TechBoard. They are proud of creating custom solutions that can be integrated into any stage of the building process. Their structural insulated panels are used in residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural buildings.This magnesium oxide sulfate cement-based building and structural board is fire resistant, hurricane-proof, anti-mold, anti-bacterial, its high strength, impact and water resistant, and most importantly VOC free.
Considering Calgary Economic Development reports the southern Alberta city has the highest concentration of head offices per capita in Canada, with 73 percent of head offices representing energy and oil field services companies, this is a good place to start thinking about the environmental footprint of buildings.
Working with organizations focused on improving the efficiency of buildings inspired Jenkins and his team to come up with a chemistry-based solution that has made investors and shareholders take note of what ZS2 has accomplished in only one short year.
ZS2 has 15 full-time people on its team, six regional distribution partners, and another six in negotiations. They have also secured projects in both Canada and the United States.
“Building a better planet starts with building better buildings. The technology is the chemistry – that recipe is our secret sauce,” says Jenkins.
With cofounder Dr. Doug Brown being a PhD chemist as well as Pary Roshan, research associate with a masters in chemistry and two PhD advisors (in chemistry and geophysics), the origin of the company name has everything to do with science. This includes the fact there is no periodic table with ZS in it.
“Our company alludes to a new molecule, a new science. Our company is really big on material science and chemistry. It’s about better chemistry,” Jenkins says.
Launching ZS2 at the same time the pandemic dramatically changed the world has been no coincidence.
“Maybe you know what COVID-19 did? The pandemic made people realize I don’t want to be at home where I’m working for a multinational where I am a cog. It’s changed people’s attitudes about being entrepreneurial and making a difference.”
So you really can’t blame Jenkins for his optimism. Among 28 participating investors, ZS2 received top marks in the first Alberta Cleantech Investment Summit this March receiving $195,000 in funding.
He credits his cofounder and strategic account executive Kristin Davis-Ouwejan with being the catalyst that kicked things into motion.
“She was the one who said to our team we can do this, we can change construction. What do we have to lose? We are all locked down, we have a great team. We all believe what we are capable of,” said Jenkins.