What comes to mind when you think about today’s youth? Does it instil fear or does it inspire hope? As a part of generation Y, I like to think it’s the latter. We are the generation that has grown up with the Internet, text messaging and multiple forms of instant communication. For many of us, this technology has enabled us to connect and embrace aspects of the world that were unknown by previous generations. Our thirst for knowledge, need for direct connectivity and social consciousness is at the heart of why the youth are becoming sustainability trend-setters. Today’s youth is helping lead the sustainability quest – to minimize our ecological impact and do so in a socially responsible way
Previous generations have asserted that knowledge is power, and today, knowledge is only a Google search away. For instance, those with an interest in real estate and architecture, have online access to green building designs, photos and forums. They are able to learn about best practices associated with water conservation, Passive Solar, or about building standards like LEED® and ASHRAE. The knowledge gained, will perhaps send a young curious mind towards a career in structural engineering, or urban planning and design. These impacts are only amplified by Generation Y’s need for smarter more customizable workspaces, and further driving demand for sustainable buildings and design.
Young people’s ability to seek and share information with each other is truly powerful. Take for example the use of technology in our homes, with many parents who have traded in colouring books for powerful tablets. Children indeed have the world in their fingertips.
With access to millions of online APPS youth are able to find and connect with likeminded individuals. For instance, individuals interested in water conservation issues, can connect with various ‘blue’ organizations in the community. These connections can help mobilize a community awareness program or regional water policy. The Water Brothers who have travelled across the globe highlighting local and global issues are a prime example of young leadership. Quench is also a unique app that allows users to search out public water fountains, or businesses willing to fill up your reusable container. For more information visit - http://thewaterbrothers.ca/quench
Another example of how today’s youth are setting low impact trends is through the use of online website communities like Couch Surfing and Air BnB where strangers from across the globe meet and open up their homes. This truly unique experience allows personal engagement with globetrotters and a personal visit to a foreign city. This social exchange is a major contributor to how and why younger generations are more apt to adapt to these positive communal expierences.
These social connections are just a demonstration of how technology in the 21st century is bringing people closer together. The youth of today have a decentralized concept of where information comes from, as news is now shared rather than delivered.
The final piece of the puzzle lies in the purchasing power of this demographic. Increasingly, young adults associate greater value with purchasing ethically produced products and services. This can be seen with companies like Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Bullfrog Power, offering their clients 'greener' alternatives.
Young adults have helped trigger a series of events that have had a rippling effect across the globe, such as;
All this information has contributed to the steady increase in the demand for goods and services that consider a full life cycle impact. Cradle to cradle has become a high priority for young adults who are becoming more and more ethical consumers. The spending power of young adults is holding major corporations accountable for both upstream and downstream impacts of their products / services. Social consumers know that if they do not pay the price for a better product today, they will pay five fold in the future.
It is that willingness to acknowledge and accept that we all can have an impact - positive or negative - that allows us to ‘Be the change we want to see in the world’.
Ok so I know I have not been on top of the blogging, but I figured I would change the tone of my post this time.
After some considerable time caught up in my current 'less than green' job I have found myself both jaded and most recently inspired. Let's face it - being green can sometimes be quite cumbersome. Watching what you buy , what you eat - whether you powered down your man cave or deciding to bike to work in the rain, are daily choices!
We are constantly bombarded with adverts describing their products as eco this or earth friendly that. It becomes overwhelming deciding what we should do.
My apologies for letting time slip between my posts. In my last post I wrote about how by adjusting our diets and our choices a little, we can drastically reduce the worlds greenhouse gas emissions.
(To read about how YOU can reduce your ecological footprint, click here) (http://commonground.edrnet.com/posts/a29b111f5e)
Now, I would like to introduce another way you can positively contribute.
HOW ?? By engaging those who own, operate and maintain our homes and offices.
Our buildings have come a long way in terms of design, construction and material over the past twelve thousand years.Checkout a Native Indian Wigwam.
Ancient V.S. 21st Century
Our buildings are stronger, lighter, and quite capable of being smarter too. There are several organizations and individuals that are leading the charge in sustainable buildings; here is an example of a famous NYC Skyscraper - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUoFX0Ceqns&feature=player_embedded
One word that has become synonymous with Green building is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Yet, it is one of several guidelines, rules and principals acting as a framework industry leaders are utilizing. I have come to learn that within this sector, no matter the ‘guidelines’ the objective is quite similar – 'correctly using design and technology to significantly reduce rising operational expenses of aging buildings.' Due diligence and preventative maintenance has become paramount in minimizing the unexpected – specifically long term operational costs.
No matter who or where you go to figure out your ‘BOMA-BEST’, the point is to figure out what works for your specific building(s).
Did you know that buildings across the planet currently are the #1 leading causes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? They account for more than 1/3 of all emissions! (http://www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/dgs/pio/facts/LA%20workshop/climate.pdf )
I always thought that it was the SUV’s, plasma tv’s and our addiction to fossil fuels.
In fact one of the lowest hanging fruit we can help pick is to is fix, upgrade and occasionally renovate our homes and work places!
Why not? It is where we seek refuge from the elements; it’s also where we spend the majority of our time throughout our lives. Consequently, as China, India and the rest of the developing world (over 2 billion people or roughly 33% of the planet) joins the 21st century so will their appetites for food, water and energy.
Do not think that we will be sheltered in North America from the happenings of the rest of the planet, as we are all part of the same ecological system! The cost to heat, cool and electrify our spaces is on the rise. (See cost of energy http://www.eia.gov/aer/overview.html)
Please do not let this frighten you though, I truly believe that our society has the ability to have a net zero - dare I say regenerative impact on the environment, and I believe we can do this through our buildings!
But forget about saving the planet for a moment, what about our rights to live and work in clean, and healthy buildings? I urge you to ask your landlord, property managers and government what they are doing to help shield you from escalating operating expenses!
If you want to do something green start with your offices and homes. If not for the environment then do it for your wallet and tax dollars!!
Did you know we have technology that can heat our homes and our water using the sun? Renewable energy, like solar thermal panels which have the capability of heating our domestic hot water even throughout the long cold winter months!
Geothermal, a relatively old technology, is capable of replacing HVAC systems completely through the earth’s stable temperatures. See Toronto’s Greenest hotel – http://theplanettraveler.com/ & see Industry leader Tom Rand’s presentation about the clean tech economy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udz0lHGNzxc.
There are 3 things in life that are certain; death, taxes and rising energy prices!!!
I am very interested to hear your thoughts about whether we can pull ourselves out of this predicament or if its too late. And whether you even think there is a problem or not I’d love to hear YOUR view point!
Brownfield redevelopment can come up against numerous challenges not the least of which is financing. In BC the provincial government has initiated a Brownfield Renewal program to assist with the cost of assessment and remediation of suitable sites.
The program may be used for
Applications for this program are made to the Ministry Transportation and Infrastructure and may be used by
In addition to the provincial funding program the following federal programs may provide funding assistance for portions of Brownfield projects.
The Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) follows the Polluter Pays Principle to help ensure that those who cause environmental damage or harm to wildlife take responsibility for their actions. Funds for this program are received through fines, court order and voluntary action. Restoration is given the highest priority for funding under this program which includes Environmental Quality Improvement, Research and Development and Education and Awareness
EcoAction Community Funding Program encourages projects that will protect, rehabilitate or enhance the natural environment, and build the capacity of communities to sustain these activities into the future. This program supports projects that address concerns with air pollutants, water contaminations, climate change, habitat, and biodiversity.
Build Canada Program from Infrastructure Canada provides funding for Core National Highway System, Drinking Water, Wastewater, Public Transit and Green Energy. The goals of the program is to a provide a “stronger economy, a cleaner environment, and better communities, while addressing local and regional infrastructure needs”
Federal Contaminated Sites Program provides support for sites that are the responsibility of the Canadian federal government.
What is a Brownfield?
“Brownfields are defined as “abandoned, vacant, derelict or underutilized commercial or industrial properties where past actions have resulted in actual or perceived contamination and where there is an active potential for redevelopment”. Victoria's Dockside Green and Vancouver’s Pacific Place are two examples of internationally recognized Brownfield redevelopment projects.” ~ http://www.brownfieldrenewal.gov.bc.ca
“British Columbia has an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 brownfield sites, which are often in or near communities. Examples include:
Now, in my last post I talked a little bit about perspective. I would like to dig a little deeper tonight, here today, wherever you are!
Distance plays a profound role in the way the world interacts, from how and where products are made to where dinner came from; many people are not exposed to what true distance is. I pull from my experience while teaching abroad in S. Korea. Up until moving there I hadn’t truly understood what the meaning of ‘far’ meant. Living in S.Korea really gave me an appreciation for what true distance is. What effort it took for me to travel with all my belongings from Toronto – Vancouver to Seoul! I personally added nearly 3 tonnes of co2 into the atmosphere (Calculate your footprint here: http://www.zerofootprint.net/engage-employees/one-minute-calculator. Not only was transportation an endeavor, but communication with home was just as difficult as we were 13-14 hours ahead.
That's when it dawned on me that we live on a massive planet and it sure takes a lot of energy for me or my things to go from place to place.
Yet, how little do we actually know about how our things came into our possession. I am talking about the actual impact we have on the planet by having that stereo, this TV, this keyboard and monitor, all as part of our things. But things are nice, and things are fun, but the thing about things that sucks is that they all seem to come from really far away, and they all eventually end up in the same place! But where exactly did it just come from, and how did it get to my house? (http://www.storyofstuff.com/ - 20 minute clip on ‘stuff’)
Our things are mined and extracted from Africa, manufactured in China, assembled in the Philippines and shipped to North America. By the time it gets to our home, its already old news, outdated and lost significant monetary value, ask your typical HUMMER driver or IPod owner.
Consume or die!! Support your country. Support your economy! Has anyone ever heard of supporting that which matters most? Is it just me or is the pace we have set as a society mimic a freight train with no breaks?
Why are we so ignorant, to expect things will get better if we keep the status quo! Or are we to scared to face the hurdles we as a human species are going to have to overcome in THIS lifetime. I mean there is disaster all over the news, draughts, riots, poverty, starvation, greed, extortion theft, - you name it, it couldn’t be written any better. Though several organizations including the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPCC_report ) predicted climate change would have such adverse affects, some of which they predicted to happen by 2050 have already happened. (Also see Stern Report - http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/oct/30/economy.uk )
So why are we acting like a bunch of frogs sitting in warming water? (http://howtoboilafrog.com/themovie/) Well some of us are taking our own impacts and attempting to minimize how we effect the planet, regardless of what government and big business are or aren’t doing. Check out this guy – who aimed for zero impact! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9Ctt7FGFBo + http://noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/ ).
Zero impact is a lofty goal – but I believe that if everyone does their part we won’t have to sacrifice EVERYTHING. But the key here is acknowledging that we have a problem – we must understand the repercussions of our choices, and learn to be smarter citizens – and I don't mean tree huggers, and composting hippies. We must all find out what gives us balance, learn to appreciate what adds actual value to our lives and the lives around us.
I believe there are a number of things we can do to significantly lower our impact on the environment. However this week I would like to focus on three.
My first tip for reducing our ecological footprint is to think locally and adapt our diets accordingly. We need to learn to get back to the basics, and appreciate where our food is coming from. With the convenience of cheap oil slowly becoming harder to extract, oil prices will be back over $100 a barrel in no time, thus driving up the costs of pretty much everything! Days of kiwis, strawberries and pineapples year round will become a thing of the past, as most people will no longer be able to incur the logistical costs.
Not only will the logistical costs continue to grow, but as will the world’s appetite! As China and India's middle class continues to grow – meat will be in high demand – specifically beef!
“Beef production generates about 1.3 percent of the world's calories but uses 60 percent of all the land used to produce food. Beef production also consumes disproportionate amounts of water and energy, and is a leading cause of deforestation in Brazil.” (http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2011/01/06/it-possible-make-hamburger-greener#ixzz1BuggZvN8).
I do not want to come off as a vegan preacher,( I love wings and ribs) what I am merely suggesting is adding balance to our diets, that are heavily protein based. By cutting our beef/meat consumption we are effectively, improving our health, our wallets and believe it or not the planet -all by eating less meat.
So what can you do? Educate yourself and others, learn more about where your food comes from! Or when making purchases, reduce the amount of food we buy that is coming from out of country. You don’t have to cut out exotic fruits and meat out of your diet, the first step and most imperative step is acknowledging that your choices do have an impact – and then going from there. How you decide to reduce your impact is entirely up to you.
Join me later this week, where we will tackle more ways to reduce our ecological footprints!
Good morning, good afternoon and good evening ladies and gentleman,
I am a first time blogger, long time ranter - ask anyone whose been with me for more than an hour.
Some people think that it takes years to gain perspective, while others believe they find it in a matter of seconds. I believe in both, there must be balance in everything we do (or write). So on occasion if I am off balance or out of place in your opinion, feel free to leave your mark and help me gain a different perspective on the subject(s).
So, where does one find perspective? I've found mine through engaged communication with others. Having traveled extensively, continually reading, speaking to experts, and following trends, I like to think I have a reasonable foundation that I look forward to build upon with your help!
I hope to write as often as possible, but as we know life doesnt stop and wait for us to gather our thoughts, let alone write them in a coherent manner.
SO... it was nice to have met you!
As we embark into the 2nd decade of the 21st century we have become openly communicative across the globe about pressing issues effecting society, the economy and most importantly (to me) the environment. News updates are at our fingertips, with each individual the potential to become a reporter or anchor. No matter what the argument between global warming, climate change versus climate gate and a natural cyclical phenomenon, the underlying issue is humanity’s ability (or lack there of) to live in harmony with the living world.
All sides of the coin may present valid points as to why or why not climate change should or shouldn’t be addressed, but I am presently not talking about climate change, I believe mankind does not have the capability of destroying the longevity of the planet. It may suffer and bleedout, but has and will continue to survive its dominant inhabitants.
The amount of waste, toxic substances and pollution that comes from our homes, transportation, business and industries must be addressed at a grass roots level to make significant impacts. In 2010 we have the technology, the knowledge and the know how to address several problems. However we lack the ‘green’ commitment by political leaders and heads of industry which alienates any efforts made.
There are in fact several factors that preach the opposite. Going green makes actual economic sense and is great for business. The easiest and most cost effective solution are the eco-efficiencies’ that can be sought out by means of picking the low hanging fruit with simple energy, water, and waste audits. Many times the cost savings are so large that it makes significant impact to the bottom line, and this is only skimming the surface of the economic benefits. There are other intangible factors that may positively be affect organizations by ‘going green’ which may include; a larger talent pool to choose from, more productive workforce, lower employee turnover, increased market share, and lower insurance and loan costs as future environmental risks are being mitigated by the due diligence of business’s aiming to be more sustainable, and in the end more profitable.
These impacts will not only provide future generations the opportunities to seek and fulfill meaningful lives, but address several short and medium term problems. Pollution affects us all and is a global issue. The toxification(word choice :S ) of the AIR we breath and WATER we drink affects the very fabric of our basic human needs.
People must be educated on the destructive nature of our consumerist society and willing to make the difference starting with their homes and more importantly carry the values we teach our children, into the business world where the most significant changes can be made. Human beings can no longer set aside environmental issues in hopes that a new technology will come and save the day, this problem will not be overcome in one year or one term of presidency nor in 1 decade; sustainability is not a place – it is a journey.
Photo taken @ World's largest fresh water lake - Lake Baikal - March 2009
As due diligence and compliance professionals we have to stay current with legislative and practice changes. This is made easier by online publication of requirements and email advisories of updates. And while I usually have time to review the latest update when it arrives, occasionally it is not relevant to current projects or time is scarce and it gets put off. To ensure the most current information is referenced I have incorporated a quick review of applicable regulatory documents into the scoping stage of projects. Here is why it matters…
I recently reviewed a report for a property owner in British Columbia (BC). The report was a review (conducted after 2005) of previous investigations and reporting carried out around 2000. The initial reporting (2000) came back with a clean bill of health for the site in question as compared to the standards of the day. The review which was conducted after 2005 came to the same conclusion but further stated that under current CSR (Contaminated Sites Regulation) standards the site would still meet criteria. This happens to not be the case due to a change in legislation in 2005 and the publishing of a Technical Guidance 6 (2005) which would have required the application of a more stringent standard to the site in question. A quick check of the guidance document could have saved some headaches.
So, why do I bring this up? Technical Guidance 6 (version 2) has been updated and the new document comes into force February 1, 2011. For those of us making statements about the quality of groundwater in BC it is time for a review.