Humility drives culture of progress and innovation
Maskeen lives by its namesake
As building code continues to ramp up, some builders face the more stringent regulations with confidence. In the case of Maskeen Group of Companies, their enthusiasm for innovative technologies and their participation in a third-party home certification program have guided them beyond energy efficiency requirements.
The company started in the 1990s and was named in honour of its founder’s great-grandfather; in Punjab, Maskeen means “humble one”. Consistent with this, Maskeen has created a culture where modesty, accountability, and progress prevail.
Founded by Jagdip Sivia, the team describes him as one of the clearest thinkers they’ve come across, who is always bringing forward interesting solutions. Rather than operating in a traditional, hierarchical structure, Jagdip has chosen a flat organizational approach, where team members wear multiple hats—there are no distinct departments. He believes that so long as the team shares a common set of values, their collective minds and experiences will create a more successful organization. The company is small, and as employees work different roles, their understanding and appreciation for what it takes to be successful has resulted in peer-to-peer accountability.
From the beginning, a commitment to sustainability has been at their core. Jagdip was an early adopter of geothermal, installing a [geothermal] heating and cooling system into his own home over 14 years ago—this in keeping with his openness to trying emergent building practices and keen interest in new technology, according to Construction Project Manager Grant Copland. Complementary to the geo-thermal exchange, Maskeen focused on air quality, carefully selecting low-VOC product choices for their carpet, paint, and cabinetry.
It was Maskeen’s Evoque development that marked their fore into certification through a third-party sustainable building program. A collection of modern townhomes located in the Sullivan Heights community in Surrey, the development boasts of geothermal heating and low-emission windows, among a number of sustainable features.
An initial internal review of the BUILT GREEN® Single Family Checklist surprised them: based on their preliminary design specifications they were already meeting 60 to 65 per cent of the requirements for the base level certification. “We were encouraged by this, and coupled with Jagdip’s commitment to progress, we were motivated to make further adjustments and fine-tune our specifications, which allowed us to bump up our certification level on this first project,” says Copland.
Within Built Green Canada’s home certification program, there are four levels of achievement, each requiring an incremental improvement in energy performance, alongside increased requirements in six other areas of sustainable building—among these, water conservation and waste management. The program’s checklist of green options encourages builders to consider a range of ways to improve upon their sustainable builds—thereby increasing their certification level.
Since Maskeen’s Evoque project, they have gone on to build a number of developments; however, as with all of their projects, Maskeen continues to monitor and stay connected to those homeowners who have purchased in their communities. For them, Evoque remains one of their most notable projects. “There is definitely sentiment attached to our Evoque development: it continues to be our flagship—it’s really where we started cutting our teeth on new technologies around sustainable building and reminds us of the inherent value in progress.”
Copland goes on to tell of a homeowner who bought into the Evoque development, following ownership of a previous Maskeen build. The homeowner shares that his BC Hydro bill went from $120 a month to $85 a month—a savings of 27 percent.
As the BC Energy Step Code rolls out, Maskeen feels they’re ahead of the curve—though when they started integrating sustainable building practices, they didn’t know step code was coming. “We’re ready for it and know that through Built Green’s holistic approach, we’re doing more than step code requires. As the market slowly softens in the Lower Mainland, we believe we have something unique to offer.”
Looking ahead, Maskeen wants to continue fine-tuning their building practices, or in their words “plunking along”. They say: “We want to keep improving. We know we have a long way to go, but we want to be part of the backbone of the residential building industry.”
Maskeen Group of Companies builds sustainable homes across British Columbia with a focus on the Lower Mainland. Their portfolio includes small residential subdivisions, land development, and commercial projects.