If you read this blog enough, you know by now, that I hate waste. I hate that we have to throw out perfectly good packaging items such as spray bottles, glass jars, and cardboard shoe boxes. I reuse as many as I can but at some point, there is a limit. So, when I stumbled on Splosh through the Ellen MacArthur website, I saw a company after my own heart. Splosh makes eco-friendly household cleaners and has thought of every facet to minimize waste production along the way. Once you are set up with your first cleaning kit — first order includes the bottles — you order your refills via a website. » Read more: Splosh – Eco-friendly Cleaning, Almost Zero Packaging Waste
This year’s green building fest is going to be an exciting one. The International Initiative for the Sustainable Built Environment will be co-hosting it with Sustainable Buildings Canada. This is a great event for anyone working in or interested in getting into the green building world. It’s going to be held on September 19-20, 2016, at the Eaton’s Centre Marriott.
I’ve been attending this conference on and off since 2007 when it was held up at the International Centre on Airport Road. The festival was a pretty small affair back then, and the instructors were still introducing LEED and associated factors such as LED lighting and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). We’ve come a long way since those days, and the topics are more sophisticated than ever. It’s great that facets of green building are going mainstream (such as the use of recycled materials, looking at VOC content, and an eye on energy efficiency), but there is so much more to learn, and policies that need to be developed/implemented for the built environment to help tackle climate change. » Read more: Green Building Festival in Toronto, September 19-20, 2016 – hosted by SBC and iiSBE
A few weeks ago, I was sitting on a panel at an integrated design charette in Ottawa, given by Enbridge Gas Distribution through their Savings By Design program. Sustainable Buildings Canada organizes the sessions and provides the expertise. We work as a team to help developers understand how to make their buildings at least 25% more energy efficient than the Ontario Building Code. In addition to that, we provide information on how to make buildings more sustainable in general. I am invited to talk about indoor air quality and construction and demolition waste management, while others are there to discuss other sustainability subjects. Last week was the first time I was introduced to Safe Wings Ottawa, an organization whose mission is to educate the public and prevent bird-building collisions. It was an eye-opening presentation for me, and I am now a convert. In fact, since then, I have been evaluating buildings on whether or not they are bird friendly. Anouk Hoedeman from Safe Wings gave a straightforward and enlightening presentation on birds and buildings.
So, what kills more birds – buildings or wind turbines? Wind turbines cause about 600,000 bird deaths per year in North America while buildings cause approximately one billion bird deaths (Note that Anouk also commented that cats are estimated to cause 1.4 billion bird deaths, however, the caveat is that many of those birds counted may have already hit a building and were already dead or at least vulnerable). » Read more: Do Wind Turbines or Buildings Kill More Birds?
Ambient Bamboo Floors has been selling high-quality bamboo floors for over 25 years. If you’ve had any experience with bamboo flooring you will know that its durability depends on many factors. I have spoken with a few people who’ve installed it believing they were choosing a well-priced environmentally friendly product. Within five years, however, they had to tear up that floor and put in a completely new one due to wear beyond repair. How environmentally friendly is a floor that needs to be replaced after five years? The old adage remains true: you get what you pay for. If you cut down on price, it usually means quality is lowered as well.
According to a report on Green Tech Media, shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Insurance have voted to ignore climate risks. Apparently Mr. Buffett “doesn’t think climate change creates serious risks for Berkshire’s insurance business.” http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/berkshire-hathaway-shareholders-vote-to-ignore-climate-risks
Hmm, let’s take a quick look at what’s happening right in Fort McMurray. A massive forest fire has burned through a significant portion of the town leaving tens of thousands homeless and forcing the one of the largest evacuations in Canada’s history. The fires are due to a milder than normal winter combined with less snowfall, fostering an extremely dry spring. In fact, the situation is so bad in northern Alberta and BC, that BC can’t even send its own firefighters to help combat the blaze because they’re worried about their own fire problems.
Most of these properties will be insured — how much is this going to cost the insurers? Recent estimates based on a similar fire which burned through Slave Lake, Alberta in 2011 cost insurers $780 million. Fort McMurray is about ten times the size of Slave Lake. Currently, the estimate is $2.4-4 billion in property damage, however, if the fire keeps raging (and there is no weather relief in sight until tomorrow), it is predicted that the insurance price tag could be as high as $9 billion. To put that in perspective, the Alberta floods in July 2013 cost insurers at least $1.7 billion with more than another $4 billion in uninsured losses — a price tag that now seems paltry by comparison.