Greening With Gratitude

Sharing Sustainability


Musings regarding new findings and such.

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Canada's Greenest Home - Results are in!

Posted by madayerf on April 2, 2015 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

In 2012, Chris Magwood et al from the Endeavour Centre began to build Canada's greenest home in Peterborough Ontario.  It has been running for a few years now, so they have been able to measure just how it has performed the last few years.  Check it out:

More Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Ottawa?

Posted by madayerf on June 7, 2014 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Myself and some members of the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa are looking to add another public charging station to Ottawa's network and we are looking for where a good spot would be.  To have your say please fill out this survey (3 questions):

Also, here is how the responses have come in so far.  We have gotten responses from members of the EVCO as well as drivers from the car share VRTUCAR that have driven their electric Nissan Leaf

Solar Coops and Such

Posted by madayerf on October 23, 2013 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I've come across some innovative cooperative/business models that many of you may be aware of that I wanted to pass along.  

Firstly,  I came across something quite similar to greening with gratitude as a revolving seed fund for solar systems in the states called RE-volv. Targetting community centres, RE-volv reinvests solar lease collections into its seed fund to build more solar.

Secondly, there are a growing number of distributed utilities out there, the idea being that a business can own, say a solar system, and sell you the power for less than what you would pay if you had gotten it from the utility.  There are no upfront costs, but their are risks in that it is on your roof and the company better last long enough to take care of it. These can be run as public corporations (eg. Solarcity), as investment coops (eg. Mosaic), or even as worker coops (eg, Ohio Cooperative Solar).

I see this as particularily hopeful because there are fewer and fewer barriers to entry for consumers and producers to get involved in renewable energy.  In areas where utilities block renewable energy capacity in their system, it creates a market for distributed utilities.  There is an incentive for utilities to offer feed in tariffs and net metering to keep people plugged into their grid, or to compete with other utilities who can set up shop anywhere.  

I also see the democratic process of cooperatives as adding social sustainability to business models, which I learned about from and from the largest co-op in the world Mondragon.

Electric Highway: Pay It Forward Style

Posted by madayerf on September 29, 2013 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, my newest endeavour has been in electric vehicle charging stations for public use.  I came across a pay it forward campaign from Sun Country, who has installed a cross Canada network of level 2 chargers. (see here).  Now that I drive an EV I am looking at meeting other drivers and adding new ones where we actually use/need them.  

Not often do you come across a green pay it forward program like this so I am glad to take part.  If you would like to be a part of adding more chargers in Ottawa, please reply or check out the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa.

$10,000 reached

Posted by madayerf on August 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Well I've made it past the $10,000 mark for the amount I have saved through green choices!  I'd say my goal of finding the place where green stuff and money stuff make sense has become established in my life.  At this point I thought I would share a few of the updates as to what I'm working on now.

I just moved to an apartment with a balcony so I am using some of my green fund to start a balcony garden and am thinking of getting a tumbling composter.  My apartment building doesn't have the green bin program yet, so this could be a way to improve my gardening each year and make use of some of my composting habits from my last apartment which did have a green bin program. I learned a lot from if you want to know more.

I am looking to profile some green apartment dwellers for my sister website as well, so if you know of anyone in the city be sure to let me know.

I am also now a member of the Ottawa Sustainability Fund (OSF) and will be learning a lot about how larger green fundraising works and connecting to green projects with my pay it forward fund. Be sure to see or keep an eye out for our first newsletter this fall.

I am still looking for projects to donate to and am considering doing a more formal grant process or to simply donate my pay it forward amount to the OSF.  Also, I still enjoy driving the shared Nissan Leaf through Vrtucar and now that they are cheaper as of this fall, I am still hopeful that electric vehicle sharing will grow in the city.

Thanks for following along and happy greening!

Unburnable Carbon and Divestment

Posted by madayerf on March 25, 2013 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I came across a few ideas recently which if combined can create positive change:

        1) If we burn the known coal, oil and gas reserves it will produce 5 times more CO2 than what we can allow to prevent global warming above 2 degrees celcius. This can also affect the stock market as many stocks are valued on reserves, which if they cannot be burned, they will lose their value thus creating a "carbon bubble" (see article  for more).


        2) It is possible to divest from these companies.  This breaks our reliance on fossil fuels for investment income as well as becomes a tool for change as divestment was instrumental in creating change regarding Apartheid, Darfur and Tobacco. Not to mention, I wouldn't want to be sitting on investments if the carbon bubble bursts!

Not only do I have choices as a consumer but also as an investor since it makes little sense to change my consumption of fossil fuels, yet remain a shareholder that relies on the success of the fossil fuel industry.

Reflections on...podcast (I'm famous!)

Posted by madayerf on March 18, 2013 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I was pleased to present at a recent networking meeting for the National Capital Environmental Non-Profit Network (NCENN) on the greening with gratitude and Ottawa green homes websites.  At the meeting was a fellow named Mark who recorded the presentation and posted it on his environmental podcast called Reflections On....  Be sure to check out his 50 podcasts on local environmental projects and ideas!   

The Nature of Things - The Oilsands

Posted by madayerf on March 8, 2013 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Well...I try to stay positive and focus on solutions, but sometimes you need a good look at what the problems are.  Every once in a while though I succumb to a documentary on the oilsands and I thought I would share this one.  It is particularily touchy because for me it touches on climate change ignorance, the abuse of first nations, pollution of a dwindling glacier fed river and more.  Not a pretty picture but I'm still better for having watched it:

Interestingly, I find this one of the few venues where scientific study is not completely muzzled!

OSEA Municipal Financing Webinar

Posted by madayerf on February 12, 2013 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

If you didnt have a chance to hear the webinar from Ontario Sustainable Energy Association about Municipal Financing check out their whitepages on the presentation.  In short it was a look at Halifax's Solar City program that allowed for Local Improvement Charges to be used to finance solar thermal systems.  In the same way the LIC's are used for neighborhoods to pay for local upgrades like road/sidewalk improvements, homeowners could access municipal financing to pay for their solar thermal systems and pay for them through property taxes.  This way the financing is tied to the property and could transfer to the next homeowner. Also this is not a burden on the general tax payer, as only those who benefit pay for it.  

Local Improvement Charges (LICs) were originally established as a means for capital development for the benefit of multiple properties, with the cost being amortized between those properties over time. Amendments put forth in late 2012 by then Minister of Municipal Affairs, Kathleen Wynne, (Ontario's new premier) allow one property the ability to undertake a capital investment alone - the responsibility for repaying the municipality then falls on the single property owner. With these amendments, the term "capital investments" has been broadened to now include energy efficient and renewable energy projects, the groundbreaking reason why this can be wildly successful. (1)

Renewable Heat Workshop Highlights

Posted by madayerf on February 12, 2013 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I was glad to attend the Renewable Heat Workshop in Toronto.  This was the first joint effort between CANSIA (Canadian Solar Industries Association) and the CGC (Canadian GeoExchange Coalition).  Considering that I have gone for training for both solar and geothermal, this workshop was right up my alley!  I stayed at the Planet Traveler Hostel, which features solar thermal, pv and geothermal, in the spirit of the renewable heat workshop!

Half of the workshop focussed on a policy in the UK that is like a feed in tariff for renewable heat.  In Europe they focus not only on electricity that is sourced from renewables but energy as a whole, to include electricity generation, transportation and heating.  Having some experience with Ontario's FIT, it was interesting to see how the UK has done the same for heating, including having to meter and record units of heat.  

The Second half of the workshop were technical presentations of how solar and geothermal have been paired to date.  Some of the presentations included:

-Drake Landing Solar Community:  A 52 home demonstration by NRCan near Calgary, that features solar thermal collectors on garages that feed to a central borefield and some large short term storage tanks.  This heat is stored and then supplied to the homes.  Initially natural gas was used to supplement the heat required, but after 5 years of operation, it now has balanced to the point where barely any natural gas is used to heat the homes.  97% of the heat for heating and domestic water are solar sourced year round!

-Atmospheric Energy Systems:  Ron Tolmie, a physicist from Kanata presented the Volker Thomsen Home in Kingston that features  a smart borehole alignment that allows seasonal heat storage.  Heat can be sourced from the hot summer air, solar thermal collectors, water cooled pv panels, excess heat from commercial buildings, etc.  This heat is injected into a central ring of boreholes.  An outer ring of boreholes then collect that heat 6 months later after it has slowly travelled outwards.  This would allow loop lengths to decrease significantly as the system is sized for storage capacity rather than extraction of existing earth heat.

-Earthlink - The manufacturer of Direct Exchange Heat pumps is looking to pilot a nifty combination of geothermal, solar pv and solar thermal technology.  Currently, solar pv and solar thermal panels compete for roof space, and solar pv panels are typically only ~20% efficient with much of the solar energy wasted as heat.  Not only this, solar pv panels get less efficient the hotter they are.   Earthlink showed that they could cool solar pv panels with a DX refrigerant loop behind the panels and then that heat could be used to heat water or stored in a geothermal system.  For more see the abstract in the workshop program.