Sustainable Building Courses At Endeavour Centre 2018

January 16th, 2018 by Cathy Rust No comments »

 The Endeavour Centre in Peterborough, Ontario has consistently developed excellent, hands-on courses for students of all ages to learn the craft of building low-impact, sustainable homes. The “low-impact” aspect is important because there are lots of “green buildings” out there that use materials with toxic chemicals and have a high carbon footprint. Our version of “traditional building” is so far removed from the traditional building before the 20th century, it is almost unrecognizable. The Endeavour Centre’s sustainable building programs highlight the use of natural materials, many of which are renewable (ie., wood, straw, cork, flax, wool), or are made from recycled materials (insulation, roofing).

If you’ve ever had a dream of learning how to build sustainable homes, there are two great courses coming up in 2018.

From the Endeavour Website:

Natural Building Intensive – Though we do lots of work with natural materials, this is the first time we’re offering a natural building intensive. This one-month course will give participants a chance to construct two small buildings from foundation to finish, and gain experience with just about every natural material/strategy available in this part of the world.

For more information:

Sustainable Renovations – We’re expanding the successful model of our five-month, full-time Sustainable New Construction program, but giving participants the chance to focus on making a net zero energy, net zero carbon, zero toxin and zero waste renovation to an urban lane way garage to turn it into healthy and efficient living space.

For more information:


Ed note: Chris asked me if I would spread the word, but I was not paid, nor did I ask for payment for this post.

A Complete Guide To Energy and Resource Efficiency for Business

January 2nd, 2018 by Cathy Rust 3 comments »

Niall Enright is a sustainability consultant helping companies become more resource and energy efficient. A few months ago he contacted me to tell me about a book he’s written called, Energy and Resource Efficiency Without the Tears – the complete guide to adding value and sustaining change in an organisation. This guide is free as a PDF and can be downloaded via this link.

About this book, Niall writes:

This is not a theoretical manual – it is based on more than 25 year’s work in the field in the US, Canada, Europe, Africa and the Far East. For example, for the last 8 years I have been Director of Sustainability for Peel Holdings a US$10bn property and infrastructure company here in the UK. In this time, I helped design and lead a programme which has saved £1.5m a year on an energy bill of £4m, achieved the first ISO 50001 certification for a major UK property company as well as piloted the “BREEAM Communities” standard (similar in some ways to LEED Neighbourhood Development).

Niall has made the argument that sustainability is about Value and as such, he has developed a straightforward framework to demonstrate the most successful method to identify, implement and maintain momentum down the sustainability path (see diagram below):

Value Pyramid for Energy and Resource Efficiency

The Value Framework for Energy and Resource Efficiency

Niall wrote this book for a variety of reasons:

[T]hose of us who work on sustainability in buildings know that this is not an easy subject. There are many non-technical barriers and challenges that we encounter. The book is packed with helpful advice, ideas and techniques to overcome these barriers. Whether you are an energy efficiency practitioner, a sustainability manager, a LEED AP, a project manager, involved in policy-making, an educator or a student, an analyst, architect or designer – there is a lot of useful material for you. This content is not at all UK-centric – It draws on many real projects and best-practices from around the world.


The book is divided into two sections:  Volume One describes the framework Niall uses to help companies change, while Volume Two describes the techniques used to make those changes.

Volume I – Framework Volume II – Techniques
1. Getting Started
2. Contemporary ideas
3. Value
4. Resource efficiency is not easy
5. A Framework
6. Mandate
7. Method
8. Momentum
9. Creating a Mandate
10. Developing a Strategy
11. Goals
12. Discovery
13. Meters
14. Analysing Data
15. Measuring and Verifying Savings
16. Presenting Data
17. Financial Analysis
18. Funding for Improvement
19. People
20. Driving Improvement
21. ISO 50001:2011
22. Disclosure
23. Systems and Design

While the framework sets out how to go about making changes and all the stakeholders involved in doing so, Volume 2, gives you the techniques for doing so.

Since the book is 840 pages, you can believe that no stone for achieving efficiency has been left unturned. There are hundreds of real-life examples of situations where efficiency measures were taken or not depending on the frame of mind of management and their immediate and long-term goals. There are resources to help guide sustainability managers at every turn from how to finance new projects, to achieving different certification levels to finding the right technical expertise to help evaluate potential projects and even how to address behavioural issues and mindsets that are often the largest barrier to efficiency.

This is the most in-depth book I have ever read on energy and resource efficiency. Niall also goes over the numerous benefits for a company for becoming more efficient. While you might immediately come to the conclusion that efficiency is about saving money, in fact, that is only one part of it (and in many cases, not enough of a motivator to make the change). Often there are other reasons such as comfort, safety, ease of doing something, lower maintenance, etc. All of these reasons can add up to increasing a company’s motivation for more efficient use of resources.

This is a great reference book people involved in almost every aspect of designing, building and operating buildings. It can help guide you through identifying which projects to do and where to look for the resources to help you achieve your goals. While the PDF is free, the hardcopy is also available at £79 – it is printed on-demand so there is no waste (which generally is a huge problem in the publishing industry).

You can download the book directly from their site or order a printed copy here:

and it is also available through Amazon.

Note that while I did receive a free e-copy of book via the link, it is available to everyone. Niall did not know that I review books and I volunteered to write this review. I’d like to thank Niall for reaching out to me and letting me know about his book.



Montreal – It’s Time to Let Go of The Big O

December 14th, 2017 by Cathy Rust No comments »
The Olympic Stadium Montreal, QC, Canada

photo by Cathy Rust

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!

» Read more: Montreal – It’s Time to Let Go of The Big O

Now is the time to recycle your electronics

December 11th, 2017 by Cathy Rust No comments »

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.

» Read more: Now is the time to recycle your electronics

Buy Clean California Act, the state’s latest move to curb its greenhouse gas emissions

November 24th, 2017 by Cathy Rust No comments »

San Diego Skyline (under construction)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.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

::via Smart Cities Dive

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