On May 3, Sustainable Waterloo Region hosted a panel, Environmental Politics: Planning for Action - Globally, Nationally, Provincially, and Locally, featuring four special guests who work towards achieving a sustainable future.

Matthew Hoffmann
Professor Matthew Hoffmann

The event kicked off with University of Toronto professor, Matthew Hoffmann who presented the Next 50 Years – International Landscape and Canadian Context. Hoffmann jokingly explained to the attendees that after Paris he had to trash all of his existing slides.  Why?  Because there is now optimism in climate politics, something that has been absent since Kyoto.  Hoffman suggested that it will take "a lot of work and imagination" to reach a decarbonized future, but that a bottom up approach is critical and Paris has set the stage for such an approach.

 

Keith Brooks
Director Keith Brooks

Keith Brooks, Director of Clean Economy at Environmental Defence followed with his presentation on the province's future, Ontario: The Next 5 Years. Brooks emphasized residents should not have to choose between the environment and the economy as both are important and necessary to the public.  He expressed the need for complimentary policies to address all areas of GHG productions, because a single approach will not be enough.

 

Sarah Petrevan
Senior Policy Advisor Sarah Petrevan

On the topic of provincial politics, Senior Policy Advisor of Clean Energy Canada, Sarah Petrevan, discussed Ontario Implications: Cap and Trade. Her work in carbon and electricity programs plays a critical role in the green future of Ontario.  Though there is still several unknowns with Ontario's Cap and Trade policy, putting a price on carbon is an important step towards a decarbonized policy.  A price on carbon will prompt organizations to reduce their footprint, because those reductions will be cheaper than paying the 'carbon price.'

 

Claire Bennett
Sustainability Coordinator Claire Bennett

Claire Bennett, Sustainability Coordinator at Wilfrid Laurier University focused her talk on Climate Action Waterloo Region. Claire explained that the actors at the municipal or local level are the 'doers.' While she sees policies from the international, national and provincial levels as processes to aid the local 'doers' in achieving their goals.

 

 

 

The presentations were followed with a panel discussion with questions from the audience. Though the speakers focused on a different element in their speeches, the common factor was their hope and optimism for the future. Panel

Thank you to all those who joined us for Environmental Politics: Planning for Action - Globally, Nationally, Provincially, and Locally. We look forward to seeing you again for the launch of Regional Sustainable Initiative next month!

Special thanks to Ian Rowlands who facilitated the panel discussion and question period.

Last Thursday, Sustainable Waterloo Region hosted its annual Evening of Recognition, an event congratulating partnering organizations and individuals who are striving to reduce their carbon emissions while increasing awareness about environmental sustainability. The theme of the evening was the Past, the Present and the Future - aiming to highlight progress thus far and the steps being taken for a greener future!Evening of Recognition

With over 300 guests registered, it was a full house! The evening was a success, thanks to community members coming together to recognize the green efforts of our partners.

Awards were made from repurposed material keeping with the theme of sustainability and minimizing waste (waste contributes to 1% of our Region's carbon emissions!)

Awards of the Evening

RCI Rookie of the Year - The David Johnston Research + Technology Park 

RCI Leaderboard Winner and Carbon Cleanse Challenge - AET Group

Greatest GHG Reduction (24.4%!) - MMM Group Limited

Most Active Member of TravelWise - City of Cambridge

Leadership and Innovation Award with TravelWise - Wilfrid Laurier University Sustainability 

Greatest Increase in Sustainable Commuting - Crawford Canada

Partner of the Year - Cora Group

Environmental Awareness  - Wilfrid Laurier University Sustainability 

Champion of the Year - Anna Marie Cipriani


Budds' BMW showcased their BMW i8 which attracted a lot of attention from the event goers. Not only a sporty ride but the i8 leads future cars with its low consumption, high performance and low emissions -  the future of EVs is here!

BMW i8
BMW i8

ClimateActionWR discussed the Climate Action Plan amongst attendees to raise awareness alongside Sustain-A-City and their prototype.

ClimateActionWR's Dan Shaver and David Alton
ClimateActionWR's Dan Shaver and David Alton

 

 

 

 

 

In the words of Waterloo Regional Chair, Ken Seiling from his speech of the evening,

The future is brave.

There has been immense development in our community as recognized by Sustainable Waterloo Region last week. This would not be possible without the cooperation from partners and the help of volunteers. The collaboration of hundreds of community members has allowed to make a positive impact on the environment - an initiative that is only expected to grow in the future.

Don't forget to check out A Sustainable Vision, Sustainable Waterloo's 2015 annual report here!

On March 20, high school students with the collaborative efforts of university students met to design a prototype of a sustainable city with respect to the five actions. Students were put into designated groups which represented the five actions. The groups tackled the environmental challenges in workplaces, energy systems, waste management, transportation, housing, consumer habits and agriculture and food!

ModelThe model was carefully articulated with features such as alternative energy sources like wind power, paid parking to incentivize public transportation, community gardens and much more!

One of the challenges faced by agriculture and farming is that food often travels thousands of kilometers before reaching local grocery stores, therefore contributing to our community's carbon footprint. Students suggested a solution to this would be to support local farming which would reduce carbon DSC_9102 emissions associated with the transportation of our food. Students urged for incentives for local farming and purchasing local products. They also focused on the need to raise awareness about the heavy use of chemicals and fertilizers in agriculture which has a heavy impact on the environment.

DSC_9099
Berry Vrbanovic (center) holds an action card with the participants of the Sustain-A-City workshop alongside the model city created by the students.

 

The workshop was thrilled by a surprise visit from Kitchener mayor, Berry Vrbanovic who stopped by to encourage the students in their involvement and initiative in creating an environmentally sustainable city.

Climate Yoga with David
ClimateActionWR's very own David Alton engages participants in Climate Yoga.
Solar Panel Yoga
Volunteers channel their Solar Panel yoga pose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information regarding Sustain-A-City workshop, contact Katarina at sustain.a.city.kitchener@gmail.com

 

ClimateActionWR has just started a Linked In page to highlight actions, opportunities, tips and best practices in the workplaces (ICI) sector. We are also using it to promote local sustainability jobs and volunteer opportunities. If you have a LinkedIn page please follow us and share with your network.
Learn more here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/climateactionwr

Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and Canada's first ministers convened in Vancouver at a conference to establish a framework to battle climate change. The first ministers are composed of the provincial and territorial premiers. Together they drafted a policy plan which is expected to be effective in early 2017.

First Ministers

The outcome was satisfactory as the ministers came to an agreement for a lower-carbon future. Though the plan is still in its primitive stages, it is received warmly and eagerly by many Canadians whom anticipate a reduction in emissions through carbon taxes and other measures. In a decade, this is the first time the national government has assembled to discuss climate change. Canadians are optimistic since the previous government under Stephen Harper was infamous for silencing scientists especially pertaining to matters about the environment. British Columbia's premier Christy Clark added this rationale saying,

This is not the end. I understand that. But I hope Canadians will look at it and say, they got together, they made progress, it's a start.

One Canadian in particular, Prince Edward Island's Premier Wade MacLauchlan gleamed proudly of the province's efforts to transition to renewable energy though this is just the beginning. He added,

We have to move to a cleaner climate that's going to be there for future generations.

One of the most pressing issues to tackle climate change can be seen through carbon pricing on a national level as promised by federal environment minister, Catherine McKenna.

In the months to follow, we can expect more research conducted to accurately respond to the concerns and conditions of each province and territory. This working group will advise on clean technology, innovation and jobs, carbon reduction and adaptation.

The matter of climate change will be a topic on discussion when the first ministers assemble later this year.

In Waterloo Region, ClimateActionWR works with dedication and collaboration with services such as Community CarShare, Sustainable Waterloo Region and REEP Green Solutions to reduce carbon emissions. With the support of the new government and its new environmental policies, it allows these programs to flourish which will support a cleaner and greener community.

Here are a couple more notable Canadian accomplishments fighting climate change:

  • There are more clean tech companies listed on Canada's stock exchange than any other stock exchange in the world.
  • Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance's awareness for environmental technologies was greeted and support by oil producers.

 

The Residential Sector Committee authored this op-ed on behalf of ClimateActionWR with support from the Workplaces (ICI) and Transportation Sector Committees. The published story can be found on The Record here.

Canada's First MinistersThe country's first ministers are meeting in Vancouver to establish a national climate change strategy which will be effective on a provincial and national level.

With consideration to COP21 and the United Nations Environment Program, the reoccurring theme of reducing emissions remains a top priority internationally.

The opinion story takes a look at Waterloo Region's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% of 2010 levels by 2020 as encouraged by ClimateAction WR.  The community's quality of life is improved through the support of organisations and the promotion of services such as Community CarShare, allowing to reduce the emissions contributed by transportation.

Streetlights at nightAfter several years of planning and test trials, local municipalities are moving forward with their plan to convert all regional streetlights into LEDs. It is projected that once the 42,000 streetlights have been converted it will save 920 tonnes of GHGs per year in reduced energy use. These energy savings are also expected to translate into annual cost savings of at least $1.6 million.

The LED streetlight retrofits are a key action in the Climate Action Plan. We are excited to see our community taking this next big step towards our GHG emissions reduction target.

You can learn more about this initiative here, or by contacting your local municipality.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities(FCM) has awarded the Climate Action Plan with a Sustainable Communities Award. The award recognizes the Plan as a leading example of energy planning in the country. Learn more about the awards here: Sustainable Community Awards

The Climate Action Plan was created through the collaboration of The Region of Waterloo, the City of Kitchener, the City of Cambridge, the City of Waterloo, REEP Green Solutions and Sustainable Waterloo Region. Congratulations and many thanks for all their hard work. You can learn more about our team here.

The Region of Waterloo will accept the award on behalf of ClimateActionWR at FCM's Sustainable Communities Conference. The Region also won an award for their brownfields redevelopment of the Breithaupt Block.

The Climate Action Plan summary version

Together, let's be ambitious. By acting today, we can leave our children a community that is more resilient, caring, vibrant, and sustainable.

On December 4, one of our lead partners, REEP Green Solutions published an op-ed in The Record. The piece is a personal refection on the global climate conversations currently coalescing around COP21 and a call to greater action on climate change.

Yet for many of us, these talks are like a distant cousin: We know they exist, we might have seen a photo, but we haven't really ever had any interaction with them. Likewise, climate change can be a difficult issue to relate to personally. The question that many of us struggle with is whether (and how) we, as individuals, can make a difference.

The fact is that climate change hits close to home. Literally.

The piece emphasizes the significant impacts of our actions locally, particularly around the ways we choose to heat and power our homes. Luckily organizations like REEP Green Solutions have spearheaded several initiatives to help homeowners lower their impact. And, our Region is no sitting duck when it comes to climate action, as we have set a GHG reduction target, developed a Climate Action Plan, and have many actions in place to meet it.

The Op-ed was written by Jennifer Lynes, Chair of REEP Green Solutions and associate professor in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo; and Mary Jane Patterson, executive director of REEP Green Solutions. Read it here:

On November 12, ClimateActionWR joined REEP Green Solutions at their annual awards event, Celebrating Community Action: Building Resilience. The event celebrated people who are building our community’s resilience by taking action to reduce our impact on the environment and adapt to our changing climate. This also included a progress update from ClimateActionWR and a recognition of the important action our community is taking on climate change.

Local residents and businesses are at the heart of our community's initiatives and the event spotlighted innovation by local leaders. A diverse range of 21 nominees in nine categories were recognized for efforts to improve residential energy efficiency and improve stormwater management at homes and businesses.

“Congratulations to all the homeowners and businesses who have taken action!” said Mary Jane Patterson, REEP Green Solutions executive director. “You are a model for continued action in Waterloo Region.”

The nine award winners recognized were:

Homeowner Impact Award

– Jeff and Daria Casello of Waterloo who upgraded their 1895 era home, which resulted in energy savings of 20% on their utility bills and reduced 5 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Contractor Impact Award

– Aire One KW referred 12 Homeowners to REEP to complete their energy evaluations. Those homeowners averaged 2 tonnes of Green House Gas reductions per home and shaved 30% off their energy consumption.

Student Engagement Award

– The School of Trades and Apprenticeship at Conestoga whose faculty bring their construction students to REEP House to learn about how a century home was upgraded.

Residential Stormwater Award: Cambridge

– Mary-Louise Byrne and Alain Pinard installed French drains, permeable paving, a rain garden and infiltration galleries to keep their basement dry and improve their back yard.

Residential Stormwater Award: Kitchener

- Tim and Heidi Mussar installed a French drain system that leads water away from their back fence into two new rain gardens. They now have a dry backyard and earned a 45% stormwater credit from the City of Kitchener.

Residential Stormwater Award: Waterloo

– Ken and Elizabeth McLaughlin along with their neighbour Catherine Fife worked together to replace their paved adjoining driveways with permeable paving strips.

RAIN Community Engagement Award

– The main campus of the University of Waterloo provides 19 courses per year related to stormwater management and actively involves students in campus stormwater management projects that feature permeable paving and drought-tolerant, native landscapes.

Stormwater Management Improvement Award

– Johnsonite Canada Inc. increased its stormwater sustainability by using simple technologies to soak up and clean stormwater from 60% of its parking lot.

RAIN Innovation Award

– Grand River Transit’s Strasburg Operations Centre features permeable paving around eight trees, two bioswales and a 250,000 L underground cistern that collects rooftop water. The harvested rainwater is then filtered and reused to wash their transit buses.

“As we celebrate, we are conscious of the global picture we fit into,” said Patterson. “Climate change urgently needs to be addressed and soon world leaders will gather in Paris, France to determine next steps. We were founded 16 years ago in response to the Kyoto Accord. We are now contributing towards a made-in-Waterloo Region plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions and we are ready to work with the federal and provincial climate change Ministers to implement their game plans.”