Our Story

What if human beings were a positive contribution to the ecosystems in which they live?

It was over twenty-two years ago that key members of the Hummingbird Urban Biomass Team first began to ponder that question. It was an idea that came after a meeting with four of the day’s leading thinkers in sustainability; Green Peace founder Jim Bohlen, Earth Day International president Patrick Deacon, real estate guru and environmental philosopher Roger Colwill, and environmental author and activist Guy Dauncey.

The meeting had been organized by South Island Development Co-Operative (SIDC), a predecessor company that developed socially responsible housing in the Victoria, BC area. SIDC was planning the creation of a new town; nearly five thousand people on 2,600 acres of east coast Vancouver Island waterfront. Together with the labour sponsored pension plans (members of the Co-operative) we intended to develop the most socially responsible and sustainable project ever undertaken. Unlike so many of the thousand plus stakeholders that we had interviewed or met with, these four gentleman spoke purely for the environment without private or personal agendas.

It was a profound experience for every member of the SIDC team. The question; “what if human beings were a positive contribution to the ecosystems in which they live?” became the foundation for the new town plan. The ideas discussed then became the building blocks for The Trust For Sustainable Development (TSD), a not-for-profit corporation created by David Butterfield to further sustainable objectives.

Since that day, TSD has been active in sustainable development. Projects include the inner city redevelopment of a contaminated site in Victoria, British Columbia, the creation and implementation of a new town, Civano at the request of the City of Tucson, Arizona, and the town plan and development of the first neighborhoods at the Villages of Loreto Bay, a project co-authored by the Federal Government of Mexico to alleviate poverty in the Central Baja.

David Butterfield then co-founded the ICC Group which started life as the International Composting Corporation. It is a business that shares several foundational elements with Hummingbird Urban Biomass; it helps solve a number of problems with one action, a common hallmark of sustainability. Every day in North America there are hundreds of thousands of tons of organic material thrown into landfills andbreaking down into methane gas. This methane is twenty times more deleterious to the atmosphere than CO2 and approximately one third of all methane gas comes from landfills.

Where ICC has turned waste into life giving soil, Hummingbird turns waste into energy, a more comprehensivesolution to the vast issue of organic waste, the largest and most harmful component of the stuff we all throw away or that lays as a fire hazard on the floors of our forests.

Traditional biomass plants using wood have sprung up all over the country to produce clean renewable electric energy and heat. Working with ICC provided the background in organic material processing to make the connection between Urban Biomass, that which we throw away in our cities, and wood based biomass from our forests. Fundamentally, they are very similar materials which both produce abundant energy.

David was invited to be a Board member of the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) Board of Directors at the Arizona State University (ASU) which provided access to, and an understanding of, the University’s commitment to become a leader in sustainability, including the reduction of waste and carbon neutrality. ASU serves as the epicenter for alternative energy research and, as such, offered a global connection to the North America’s leading thinkers, researchers and practitioners in the expanding field.

Kris Obrigewitsch, formerly ICC’s vice president, became a key member of the team moving forward. Early on, for a variety of reasons, we decided to locate Hummingbird Urban Biomass in Canada, where the technologyoriginated, to continue research and development and manage facility design and engineering. At the same time, the U.S. is a key strategicmarket for us primarily due to the availability of stimulus and other funding opportunities for facility financing. To take advantage of the U.S. opportunity it was best to have a separate American facilities development company (Hummingbird Energy LLC) with which we could work exclusively. Today our two companies have a joint venture relationship which insures investors in either company an equal return.

Most recently, the team has been focused on the emerging field of Green Diesel – a technology that combines the production of both bio oil and hydrogen and brings them together to create the first sustainable, renewable, clean, green fuel. Early steps have revealed the potential that exists in our forests and the team is hard at work to develop the technology into a commercially viable operation that will be a positive contribution.