Recently, in The Globe and Mail there was an article about the future of the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. According to the article, annual maintenance costs $32 million and the roof needs replacing to the tune of $200-300 million.
There is a new mayor, Ms. Valerie Plante, who campaigned on less talk, more action. The Big O presents an opportunity for her to put her campaign promise into action. I don’t particularly like my tax dollars going towards a venue that is under-utilized and high maintenance, especially when there are plenty of productive alternatives that could be done with the space. We are at a critical time when cities are feeling the effects (and increased spending) of extreme weather events. Montreal was fortunate and able to sit on the sidelines of the onslaught of hurricanes and forest fires that affected the US and other countries – but our turn will come. Using the acreage the Big O now occupies to provide a living lab to carbon-curbing solutions would provide a better use of our tax dollars while advancing new technologies and generating revenues through business. And, as Montreal is a member of the 100 Resilient Cities network, a group of cities dedicated to fighting climate change, we have a responsibility to actively find, test and implement solutions.
The City of the Future Are Smart and Green
Cities need to reinvent themselves to prepare for larger populations, ageing infrastructure, more extreme weather events, and increased automation. More and more cities are starting to experiment with underutilized plots of land to see which technologies will be successful moving forward. Montreal not only has the land, we also have a solid tech sector, four universities and an experienced construction sector. Imagine the possibilities!
Let’s face it: with the holidays fast approaching, many of us use it as a time to replace old or out of date electronics from computers to phones and everything in between. If you are not planning on continuing to use your old gadgets and devices, make sure you dispose of them properly. As the infographic below demonstrates, not only are there valuable materials in your electronics but also, throwing many of them into landfill will leach toxic chemicals into lakes, rivers, streams and soil – usually close to where you live. While the infographic below is for the US, note that in Canada, e-waste collection is now available countrywide. Visit the EPRA website to find what you can recycle and where to drop it off in your province.
On October 15th, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law, the “Buy Clean California Act.” The intention of this law to prevent contractors from using material that is shipped in other states and countries with considerably lower quality than standards than required by California. At the same time, it is pushing the envelope with respect to forcing contractors to use better quality materials. Specifically, this law affects the following materials: carbon steel rebar, flat glass, mineral wool board insulation and structural steel. It only applies to contractors bidding on state projects, including its substantial state university network.
While it does only apply to state construction jobs, it is estimated that that market alone is worth $10 Billion, so it will have quite an effect on the market.
The way the law will work is that all contractors must submit an Environmental Product Declaration for each product indicating that they have chosen products that have the lowest possible impact on greenhouse gases within its category. Maximum GHG levels for each category still have to be determined, and the law will go into effect in 2019.
This is a very progressive law and could have the effect of raising standards across the country. Most building material manufacturers located in North America already try to develop products to meet California standards. The fallout, however, could also be that more inferior products get sucked up by other North American markets if manufacturers feel that they’ve suddenly lost a market in California and push it on other jurisdictions — especially in recent hurricane zones in Texas and Florida.
In Rotterdam, BlueCity is a Circular Economy incubator for companies developing technologies that create products from waste. So far they have about 12 companies that are working within their facilities – which are located in a defunct indoor tropical swimming centre called Tropicana. Instead of tearing down the building, this group has gone in to give it a second life. In terms of the kinds of businesses they have been incubating, here is how they explain it:
The entrepreneurs located in BlueCity all connect their waste-streams in different ways.The coffee-waste that is produced by Aloha Bar-Restaurant serves as nutritious soil for the mushrooms of RotterZwam. The carbon dioxide that is released in the process is used by Spireaux for the creation of Spirulina, and in BlueCity Lab mycelium is used to develop packaging materials. Of course, to complete this perfect circle, you will ultimately find the mushrooms that grew on the coffee waste of Aloha on the menu of the same restaurant. [source]
They recently launched the BlueCity Circular Challenge in which they challenged multi-disciplinary teams of students and young professionals to come up with solutions to some chronic waste problems. Four companies offered up their waste streams to see if the teams could come up with a marketable product from the waste. The waste streams were:
disposable coffee cups,
the filtered-out waste from sewage treatment plants (ie., sanitary products and flushable wipes, etc… – stuff that isn’t even supposed to go into the sewage system but ends up there anyway),
electric meters made out of Bakelite,
the horticultural business left if up to the team to decide which waste stream to address.
The winner was the team that took the filtered-out waste and turned it into a substrate for green roofs. It turns out that all those products (sanitary napkins, tampons, wipes…) are also highly absorbent, meaning they can soak up a lot of liquid. That makes them a great starting product for a green roof base because they can hold enough water to help get the plants going and can absorb rain really well while diverting rain from the sewer system. The idea is to sterilize, dry and compress the waste into tiles, and then use it in green roofs as a substrate. The team won €5,000 and a place at BlueCity to further explore their idea.
Let’s face it: it’s hard to write anything truly exciting about the flush capabilities of a toilet. On the other hand, we’ve all used low-flow toilets that don’t get the job done. Usually the pressure isn’t good enough and you need to flush two or three times completely defeating the whole low-flush feature. There are a few companies that are making progress in this area, and Sustainable Solutions International is one of them. This company has just launched its 0.8 gallon (that’s 3 litres in Canada) toilet that has a MaP score of 800 (in other words, it can flush 800 grams in one go). (If you want to know more about MaP scores, see this post from a few years ago). Note that most water efficient toilets are either 6 liter/1.6 gallons or dual flush, making this toilet twice as water-friendly.
Some of its key features are the following:
This toilet is at a low-cost point making them the affordable choice for large hotels and commercial building specifications.
This is one of the lowest gpf toilets on the market today at a mere .8pf. Built to last, the NO CLOG POINT 8 toilet doesn’t skimp on performance.
The SSi NO CLOG POINT 8 toilet uses a brilliantly engineered simple technology that isn’t dependent upon complicated pressure or vacuum assisted mechanisms as seen in their competitors’ toilets – ultimately saving expensive maintenance costs. It installs like any other toilet.
As its name implies, “NO CLOG” hotel owners will have little need for service calls due to clogged toilets as the NO CLOG trapway is double industry standard size.
The toilets are made for everyone in mind and the Easy Height toilet is ADA-Compliant. A bonus is the ADA-compliant lever handle.
For the most part we rely on third party organizations to determine what is and isn't a "green building material." The only time we might not is when products are locally produced or no third party green designation is available for the product.