Our People

Hummingbird Energy LLC

Phoenix AZ, USA

David Butterfield


David Butterfield is a visionary developer whose work is imbued with extraordinary functionality, responsibility and beauty.

In 2002, David Butterfield formed Hummingbird Urban Biomass Ltd, after stepping down as Executive Chairman of International Composting Corporation (“ICC”), a company he helped found in 2002 and where he remains the largest investor. While Chairman of ICC, David realized the enormous potential of source separated organic waste as an energy resource, and saw the possibility of working in the United States with Arizona State University employing Canadian based source separated organic waste technology.

David started in the construction industry in the early 1970’s as a carpenter in rural British Columbia and moved to Victoria in 1989 where he played a key role in the development of affordable housing. He has been actively involved in real estate development projects in Canada, the United States, and Mexico totaling in the billions of dollars.

In 1989, a series of meetings with several environmental activists during the planning of a new town at Bamberton, converted David to a path of sustainability and laid the foundation for the creation of the Trust for Sustainable Development (“TSD”). David incorporated TSD in 1995 as a Federally chartered, not-for-profit corporation devoted to the principals of economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable development.
The Trust developed numerous, award-winning and innovative developments during the following 15 years.

In the mid-1990’s, he directed the planning and creation of a new, sustainable town of 2,400 homes in Tucson, Ariz., called Civano. The New York Times referred to this community as one of the four most sustainable developments in North America. Civano is still recognized as one of the very best sustainable new towns in North America, and one of the few with annual energy and water conservation audits which prove the efficacy of the work done.

In 1997, David left Civano to undertake the Victoria inner city re-development of Shoal Point at Fisherman’s Wharf, where he currently resides. Shoal Point has received several local and national design awards, and was voted the “Best Building” in Canada in 2002 by the Canadian Home Builders Association. The project transformed the derelict and contaminated brownfield site into one of Victoria’s most beautiful, landmark buildings.

In 2003 at the invitation of the Federal Government of Mexico, David began work on North America’s largest sustainable development at Loreto Bay on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The project’s unique commitments were to create more potable water then it used, produce more renewable energy then it consumed, and improve the ecosystem of which it is part. When David left in August 2007, before the recession’s impact, the project was the best selling development in Mexico. Today it continues to grow and exists as an outstanding example of community vibrancy, neighborhood design and exquisite architecture.

In 2002, David Butterfield formed Hummingbird Urban Biomass Ltd, after stepping down as Executive Chairman of International Composting Corporation (“ICC”), a company he helped found in 2002 and where he remains the largest investor. While Chairman of ICC, David realized the enormous potential of source separated organic waste as an energy resource, and saw the possibility of working in the United States with Arizona State University employing Canadian based source separated organic waste technology.

In 2007, Wal-Mart Chair Rob Walton, philanthropist Julie Wrigley, and Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow, asked David to join the board of the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS), headquartered at ASU, the largest university in America and the country’s leader in sustainability. David remains an active board member with GIOS.

The government of British Columbia presented Mr. Butterfield with the Building Better Futures Community Award for his “commitment to innovation, energy efficient and environmentally friendly development, affordable housing, youth employment, live/work design and public art that extends beyond the industry to enhance the community in which he builds.” In May 2005, he was awarded the U.S.- Mexico Chamber of Commerce Good Neighbor Award for positive contributions to U.S.- Mexico relations.

Kris Obrigewitsch


Kris Obrigewitsch is the former Vice President of ICC (International Composting Corporation) Group. As part of the pioneering team of innovators at ICC, Kris was instrumental in the build out of ICC’s first organic recycling facility in Nanaimo, British Columbia; a plant that began operation in 2003 and remains operational today.

While at ICC Kris worked with the City of Ladysmith, Oak Bay and View Royal, along with the Regional District of Nanaimo to implement curbside collection of urban biomass (kitchen scraps). The ICC Nanaimo plant now receives 20,000 tonnes per year of urban biomass from the Regional District of Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley Regional District. Kris also sourced Krann Engineering for the delivery of a 5 MMBTU/hr gasifier in the Nanaimo plant to produce Fischer Tropsch biodiesel from urban biomass by way of thermo-chemical conversion.

Kris played a critical role in the development and commercialization of the ICC technology. In his role with ICC, Kris directed Investor Relations, helping raise over $3,000,000 in seed capital to help expand the company’s business into the UK, and develop the company’s first facility in Scotland.

Kris’ expertise in the field of organic waste management has lead to his inclusion on Working Groups with the BC Provincial Government dealing with waste and climate action initiatives, as well as his participation with the US Composting Council.

Kris graduated with distinction from the University of Victoria with a BA in Political Science. Originally from Saskatchewan, Kris spent several years working in marketing and public relations in the UK and Ireland before relocating to Victoria.

Ed Tait

Project Manager

Ed Tait has built everything from single-family homes to hi-rise towers, commercial office buildings, retail centers to entire new communities.

Ed began his development and construction career in 1971 in northern British Columbia, Canada, building single-family homes. His career moved steadily forward as his reputation for “no compromise” quality grew. While he is known for his meticulous attention to detail and results oriented style, he is also known for his ability to sensibly integrate emerging social and environmental technologies into projects he works on.

Most recently Ed, in collaboration with Farmer Construction Ltd, managed the development of Dockside Green in Victoria, BC – the worlds highest accredited LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – a program run by the US and Canadian green Building Councils) development. Integrating numerous sustainable technologies, Dockside Green is one of the most awarded and talked about green development projects in the world.

Prior to Dockside Green, Ed was charged with the set-up and launch of The Villages of Loreto Bay project in Baja California, Mexico. As the first company person to arrive in Loreto, a small fishing village of 10,000 people with limited services, Ed and the fledgling team he built were required to establish construction operations, administration support and strong government, community and media relations in preparation for the sale and development of approximately 500 homes per year in this remote location.

Prior to Loreto Bay, Ed was the project and construction manager for the Shoal Point project on the Inner Harbour of Victoria, B.C. Ed was responsible for the construction management of this multi-use complex which incorporated energy efficient building materials and technology, including passive solar orientation, energy-efficient envelope and low E glazing to name but a few.

Ed began shaping Victoria’s Inner Harbour area by building Harbourside. This condominium (two residential towers), hotel and marina development, built on reclaimed industrial land won every conceivable development, construction and sales award offered in the region. Today it stands as beautiful as the day it was completed; a testament to superb construction.

Ed was a founding member of the Vancouver Island Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and remains a member of PMI Canada and the Urban Development Institute.

Aristides Cota

Chief Engineer

Aristides (Ari) Cota, a talented civil engineer who began his career in Mexico, has worked in many engineering capacities throughout his career and brings his broad development and utilities talent to the Hummingbird team.

Most recently, Ari was part of the executive management team responsible for the development of the Elkington Forest project which has been awarded with the Land Award Best Sustainable Project 2011 by the Real Estate Foundation.

Ari was formerly the Director of Engineering & Land Development for the Loreto Bay Company which undertook the $500 million, mixed-use, sustainable resort project located in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico in 2003. In this position, Ari was responsible for managing the master development team’s activities, including the development of public utility infrastructure and services, land preparation, interfacing with numerous Municipal, State and Federal appropriate government agencies and implementing development cost controls for the project.

Prior to joining Loreto Bay, Ari was a partner and the Chief Executive Officer of Asesoria y Financiamiento Int., S.A. De C.V., a professional land development consulting firm specializing in architecture, engineering, and construction management of large, master planned developments in Mexico. At Asesoria, Ari oversaw large scale development projects including the gated vacation community “Campo Viejo San Miguel,” a 110 acre site on which 800 houses were constructed and “Residential Reforma Santa Fe,” high rise complex consisting of 216 high-end apartments.

Prior to his position with Asesoria y Financiamiento, Ari was the Chief Operating Officer of Precoi S.A. de C.V., a Mexican civil engineering and construction firm. While at Precoi, Ari supervised a staff of approximately 450 people, and oversaw major development projects throughout Mexico, including the construction of six subway stations in Mexico City for the Metropolitan Transport System and the construction of various power supply projects for CFE (Federal Commission of Electricity) including the construction of transmission lines, substations, and warehouse construction for the thermoelectric “Rosarito” station, in Baja California.

Darlene Tait

Director of Marketing and Communications

Darlene Tait has been a marketing professional for over 30 years and leading public planning initiatives since 1989.

Darlene’s marketing career was launched in the International airline industry. She followed-up with her own, highly successful “Service is Selling Program” that was tailored to the specific sales and service needs of travel related businesses. A move to Vancouver Island in 1986 saw her transition into the emerging field of sustainable development; innovative town planning and ecologically, socially and financially responsible development practices.

Darlene was part of the team that created one of the first recognized, sustainable development plans for a new town of 12,000 people at Bamberton on Vancouver Island. As the person responsible for leading key participatory community/public planning sessions, she worked with the established community to ensure their input factored into the final plan and helped the project gain public acceptance. The Bamberton Planning Process and Master Plan were ultimately heralded by people such as Prince Charles and Al Gore and were prominently featured at the World Mayors Conference in Curitiba, Brazil and at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Traveling the world as an advocate for healthier development practices, Darlene addressed the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, governments, universities and professional associations in Europe, South America, the US and Canada; she influenced leading practitioners in planning for better communities.

She later led an innovative sales program for The Villages of Loreto Bay in Baja Mexico that strived to broaden and expand the sales process by incorporating community-building initiatives into it. These initiatives were key to its record-breaking success; Loreto Bay continues to grow today and remains one of Mexico’s best selling new developments.

Darlene subsequently launched the new 6,000 home community of Westhills in Langford, BC where she designed and executed a Marketing and Communications Plan that utilized traditional and social media marketing as key mechanisms in building a strong, healthy community. She established a vibrant virtual community well before the first residents were in place. Her past experience also secured her a place with the design team where she worked to ensure the physical elements were supportive of community building and she drafted the Westhills Architectural Guidelines. Westhills is today, one of Victoria’s most successful and currently best-selling developments.

Dr. Gary Dirks


Dr. Gary Dirks is a distinguished Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and past President of BP Asia.

Dr. Dirks is the Julie Wrigley Chair of Sustainable Practices, and a professor of practice at Arizona State University’s (ASU) School of Sustainability. He also serves as the Director of LightWorks, an ASU initiative that capitalizes on their strengths in solar energy and other light-inspired research. He serves as a Member of Scientific Advisory Board at Liquid Light Corporation. He serves on the boards of the India Council for Sustainable Development, the U.S. China Center for Sustainable Development, and the China Business Council for Sustainable Development and is an advisor to Greener Capital.

Dr. Dirks served as the President of BP Asia-Pacific and BP China. BP has been recognized for its innovative approach to business, particularly through projects that support sustainable development and energy security. While the President of BP Asia, Dr. Dirks received China’s “Friendship Award” in 2003 and received an honorary CMG (Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George) from the United Kingdom in 2005. In December 2008, he was recognized by the People’s Daily as one of the ten most influential multinational company leaders of the last 30 years of China’s economic development. Dr. Dirks was the first doctoral student to work in the Center for the Study of Early Events in Photosynthesis (now the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis).

Dr. Dirks holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Arizona State University in 1980.

Brian R. D. Smith


In addition to being a Director at Hummingbird, Brian Smith is also a public policy advisor for Gowlings LLP, working in the area of energy and regulatory affairs. Brian has served as a federal chief treaty negotiator in British Columbia since 2001.

From 1996 to 2001, Brian served as Executive Chair of BC Hydro where he helped guide the organization towards a strong customer focus in readiness for market competition. He helped secure U.S. FERC regulatory approval in Washington, D.C. in 1997 to permit direct power sales within the U.S.

In late 1994, Brian completed a five-year term as Chairman of Canadian National Railways. While with CN, he helped prepare the railway for privatization, which occurred in 1995. He supported the construction of a new rail tunnel linking Ontario and Michigan and helped secure the necessary U.S. regulatory and presidential approvals in Washington. Brian also established a rail executive office in Vancouver to promote growing Asian container freight traffic through the Port of Vancouver.

Brian’s corporate experience is complemented by more than 20 years in public service. He served as a member of Legislature of British Columbia from 1979 to 1989. During that time, he served as Minister of Education and Minister of Energy & Mines and was Attorney General. Through the 1980s, Brian was a representative of the Government of British Columbia in most of the First Ministers’ meetings involving constitutional and aboriginal issues. He has also served for 10 years as an elected official at the municipal level, both as mayor (Oak Bay) and councillor, and as a national executive member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.