October 5th, 2016 by Cathy Rust
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This past week I was fortunate to be able to attend the Green Building Fest, an annual event, hosted this year by Sustainable Buildings Canada and the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (IISBE). Watching the presentations was like being on an emotional roller coaster. When the various government officials presented (Glen Murray (minister of the Environment and Climate Change), Alex Woods (policy writer presenting Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan) and Dianne Saxe, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario), I felt depressed and hopeless based on their honest and somewhat depressing view of where we are headed. The news is not good.
I was uplifted, however, by the brilliant and well-prepared presentations from the extraordinarily talented people invited to speak to us about projects in which they are involved that are helping us adapt to climate change. The theme this year was resiliency — because we can no longer prevent climate change, it’s here, so we must prepare ourselves and our communities for the effects of extreme weather events. The presenters gave me hope that we will be able to adjust and adapt, although, make no mistake, it’s going to be messy and ugly and expensive in the beginning, but the cost of inaction is uglier, messier and even more expensive. We are at the point of no return. We need to act now and put ideas into action or future generations will pay dearly for our inaction. » Read more: Reflections on a Successful Green Building Festival 2016
October 3rd, 2016 by Cathy Rust
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Harvest Bounty from the Montreal Convention Centre’s Green Roof
Like many cities across North America, Montreal has problems with localized heat islands during the summer, raising the temperature significantly compared with its surroundings. This effect is due to the density of buildings and road network, and not enough green space to absorb the sun’s heat. In addition, with changing and somewhat unpredictable weather conditions due to climate change, an increasing number of cities are beginning to experiment with different forms of urban agriculture. One of the projects in Montreal is a partnership between the Montreal convention centre (le Palais des Congrès de Montréal), the department of urban agricultural research from the university of Quebec at Montreal (AU/LAB at UQAM), Miel Montreal, and La Ligne Verte. This is a true collaborative project to learn what is possible regarding growing food within the confines of a rooftop. The project aims to fulfill several objectives:
- Reduce heat island effect for the neighbouring area;
- Absorb stormwater;
- Produce plants and vegetables for a variety of uses;
- Preserve heirloom seeds from some rarer varieties of plants;
- Demonstrate Montreal’s efforts to become a resilient city in the face of changing weather patterns;
- Provide a “lab” like setting to develop new vertical farming techniques.
» Read more: Urban Agriculture: New Project at le Palais des Congrès de Montréal
September 6th, 2016 by Cathy Rust
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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
August 18th, 2016 by Cathy Rust
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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
August 9th, 2016 by Cathy Rust
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Bird killed by collision with window
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?