Guelph’s New Scandinavian Friend: 10 Benefits for Sustainable Innovation in Ontario

Posted by Don Richardson

on Oct 26, 2014 1:43:00 PM

 

Children play in the most climate friendly daycare in Denmark – engineered by Ramboll.  The building produces 8 kilowatt hours per square metre per year, which is surplus to the building’s requirements.  When not used for solar panels the remaining roof surface has been planted with sedum – a hard wearing plant, which not only encourages biodiversity, prevents water run- off, provides both sound and temperature insulation, and also helps to cool the solar panels.  Photo via activehouse.info.


Scandinavian firm Ramboll is opening an office in the City of Guelph in order to pursue opportunities in the growing market for district energy in North America. 
Ramboll has 200 offices in 22 countries with $1.4 billion in annual revenue. 
Inside the firm are 11,000 consulting engineers, designers and management consultants committed to creating sustainable and long-term solutions in sectors including building, transport, environment, energy and telecom.

What does Ramboll coming to Guelph mean for Sustainable Innovation in Ontario?

 

Guelph has the first city-wide district energy network in North America.  With the news that the Scandinavian firm will be helping manage the district energy project with Guelph's Envida and is setting up its first North American office in Guelph, we thought it worth taking a look at some of the benefits a firm like Ramboll brings to Guelph and Ontario – and to local businesses like ours!  

A recent Toronto Star article by Don Tapscott (ranked one of the top 5 most influential thinkers in the world) - "As Toronto dithers, Guelph sets sights on 21st century"-  highlights Guelph's sustainability efforts, including the Community Energy Plan and waste diversion.  

Here are 10 benefits we see with Ramboll coming to Guelph and Ontario - we hope our thoughts prime some creative collaboration:

1. Ontario Climate Action: Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government, and her new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, are fully focused on climate action.  District energy is a proven approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while providing many economic benefits. Guelph will be leading Ontario climate action efforts with cost-effective district energy solutions that can be adopted and adapted elsewhere, especially areas that can take advantage of low cost natural gas combined with renewable energy.

2. CO2 Neutral Communities:  Ramboll is playing a key role in making Copenhagen CO2-neutral by 2015 – that collaborative planning and design expertise will benefit Guelph and communities across Ontario, Canada and North America.  We need more innovation around climate change & Ontario.
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Topics: Premier Wynne's Mandates, Ontario Climate Action, Local is the New Black, Sustainability Innovation in Ontario

Reflections on the Yata Kati Traditional Knowledge Conference

Posted by Frances Dietrich-O'Connor

on Oct 24, 2014 1:33:00 PM

Last month I had the honour of attending the Yata Kati Traditional Knowledge Conference in Yellowknife. If you were there, we were the ones interviewing people on their thoughts about the conference and what traditional knowledge means to them. Stay tuned for a video which brings together clips from these interviews.

There were many insightful speakers at the conference whose work and words had a strong impact on how I view my work. Here are some of my key take-away points:

Dr. Suzanne Stewart spoke about her work on indigenous education and mental health. One of Suzanne’s quotes that stuck with me was that, to her, “indigenous knowledge is spiritual. It's about what you learn from having your feet on the ground.”

Dr. George Dei spoke about his work in the areas of anti-racism education, indigenous knowledges and anti-colonial thought. George’s assertion that “We need to challenge an insistence on a grand narrative about indigeneity” has made me reflect on the work I do. Working with indigenous communities on traditional land use studies (often related to natural resource development), there is an inherent bias in the focus of my work on the importance of the harvesting and land use for the communities we work with. I am aware, however, that I need to take steps to avoid unconsciously perpetuating grand narratives and to recognize and celebrate the myriad “indigeneities” that are present in each of the communities I work in.
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Topics: Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Assessments, Traditional Knowledge and Land Use Studies

Traditional Ecological Knowledge Stories from the Field: An e-postcard home

Posted by Leah Culver

on Oct 16, 2014 11:04:00 AM

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Topics: Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Assessments, Traditional Knowledge and Land Use Studies

Sustainable Niagara Wine Pairings: Landfill Gas, Sheep & LEDs

Posted by Don Richardson

on Oct 14, 2014 11:54:00 PM

“Wine is a gateway drug to environmentalism.”

~ Katherine Cole, author of the Complete Wine Selector

Wine pairing is popular.  So is sustainable thinking.  What happens when you combine the two in the Niagara Region? You get some very creative sustainable Niagara Region wine pairings!

An odd pairing of a recent YouTube video on a Niagara Region landfill gas project championed by Walker Industries, and chance encounter with the Canada Green Building Council's "Sustainable Wineries Bike Tour" of the region got us thinking... There's a lot of quiet sustainability innovation in Ontario, particularly to address climate change and advance renewable energy opportunities in Ontario - and a lot more going on in the Niagara wine region than we ever imagined!

As one of one of the first B Corporations in Ontario, we believe that "Local is the New Black."  We've been researching opportunities for harnessing methane gas from local rural sources to create sustainable energy opportunities for agri-business in southern Ontario.  We're also looking at ways to make it easier for average people to help invest in local greenhouse gas reduction and local carbon off-sets.  And we've been writing about Ontario ClimateAction, including Ontario's City-wide District Energy Network in our local community of Guelph.  So, when we discovered these sustainable Niagara Region wine pairings in our local region, we decided to raise a glass in support!

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Topics: Ontario Climate Action, Carbon Offsets, Sustainability Innovation in Ontario

Traditional Knowledge Matters- Ensuring Traditional Knowledge Has Real Influence in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Process

Posted by Scott Mackay, Managing Partner and CEO/CFO

on Oct 3, 2014 11:00:00 AM

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Topics: Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Assessments

Traditional Knowledge Matters- The Importance of Community Support and Agency in the Environmental Approval Process

Posted by Scott Mackay, Managing Partner and CEO/CFO

on Oct 3, 2014 11:00:00 AM

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Topics: Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Assessments

Traditional Knowledge Matters- From Knowledge to Blueprint

Posted by Scott Mackay, Managing Partner and CEO/CFO

on Oct 3, 2014 11:00:00 AM

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Topics: Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Assessments

Traditional Knowledge Matters- Methods of gathering traditional knowledge for influence in the environmental assessment and permitting process

Posted by Scott Mackay, Managing Partner and CEO/CFO

on Oct 3, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Scott Mackay of Shared Value Soutions (right) works with Aboriginal Knowledge Holders from Magnetawan First Nation
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Topics: Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Assessments

Traditional Knowledge Matters- Understanding What Types of Knowledge Have the Most Influence in an Environmental Approvals Process

Posted by Scott Mackay, Managing Partner and CEO/CFO

on Oct 3, 2014 11:00:00 AM

“Traditional Knowledge Matters” is our series of blog posts on the ways and means of influencing the environmental assessment and permitting process using Aboriginal traditional knowledge. We will be sharing one post/ week over the next 5 weeks on topics including: 

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Topics: Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Assessments

Ontario Climate Action: North America's First City-wide District Energy Network

Posted by Don Richardson

on Oct 2, 2014 10:26:00 AM


GUELPH INNOVATES ONTARIO CLIMATE ACTION:

The City of Guelph is building North America's first city-wide district energy network and leading Ontario climate action.  Guelph is the first community in North America to establish a plan for an interconnected thermal grid to serve industrial, commercial and residential buildings across an entire city.  

Starting with low-cost, clean energy, natural gas fuel - but branching to renewables over time - an underground network of pipes installed alongside water, electricity, and other utilities will allow multiple buildings to share energy for heating, cooling, and hot water. Building operators benefit from lower fuel and equipment costs, reduced space requirements, lower building and maintenance costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The system is owned and operated by Envida Community Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Guelph Hydro Inc. Guelph's goal is to use its district energy network to supply at least 50 per cent of the community's heating needs in the next 30 years. Energy efficiency is a big part of this initiative - Guelph will soon be launching GEERS – Guelph Energy Efficiency Retrofit Services – to help retrofit existing buildings for energy efficiency.  

Guelph has also partnered with Project Neutral to help local residents address climate change at the household level.  Launched on October 1st, 2014, Project Neutral, in collaboration with the the local not-for-profit organization eMerge, the project is a web-based platform that allows homeowners to calculate their household carbon footprint based on food, water, waste, energy and transportation. Once residents discover the size of their own footprint, they can set personal goals to bring it even lower, or just brag about it to their neighbours.  Karen Nasmith, co-founder and director of Project Neutral, said the program "takes a new slant on keeping up with the Joneses."

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Topics: Unconventional Oil and Gas, B Corporations, Ontario Climate Action, Local is the New Black