Monday, October 29, 2007


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hughson Baptist Church

Forgot to mention that we were invited to set up a booth at the energy saving workshop (Green Venture) at Hughson Baptist church , October 17th.
There was a small turn out but it was really interesting to hear that this church is interested in figuring out a way they can help their members with their battery disposal needs- it sounds a little complicated (license?) but it's something worth looking into anyway.
Sean Botham is helping deliver our pledge and also the energy saving kits to interested parishioners who want them.

Buidling an Environmentally friendly home-off grid living

Free Tour

Building an Environmentally Friendly Home

Environment Hamilton and Dave Braden invite you to learn more about:

An environmentally-friendly home that

can be heated with a hair dryer

comes with its own electricity supply

avoids the use of toxic materials

Dave Braden is a former city councillor and

a member of the Board of Directors of Environment Hamilton
who has been building energy efficient homes for many years,
including homes specifically designed for people with extreme chemical sensitivities.

He is now constructing his own family home near Valens Conservation Area. He will take us through it and explain the techniques that he has used to make this the most environmentally friendly home in Hamilton, and perhaps in the province or the country.

Dave will be happy to answer your questions,
including on how you can reduce the energy costs in your own home.

Sunday, November 18 – 2 pm

(in Flamborough near Valens Conservation Area)

Please pre-register by November 6

To register of for more information, contact Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko at or

Or phone (905) 649-0900

1130 Barton Street East, Suite 207, Hamilton, Ontario L8H 7P9

Upcoming EH workshop

Melrose Buffet Breakfast

Melrose United Church is all set to present another Melrose Buffet Breakfast discussion organized by Environment Hamilton and featuring a Green Venture speaker;

Saturday Nov. 10th [9am]: Converting an Old Home to a Greener Home ( greening your home room by room)

Suggested Donation: $10 (Free for kids 10 and under)

86 Homewood Avenue | Hamilton, Ontario | L8P 2M4 | 905 522 1323

Drop by &

Join the Discussion!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

EH's first workshop

Environment Hamilton's climate change project partnered with Green Venture to deliver the first of our workshops- a practical response to climate change (see below for list of workshops).
Matt Xagoraris hosted the workshop- Energy Saving in the Home at his Melrose Breakfast October 13th.
It was pretty well attended. Most people heard about it through the church proper- the demographics were mostly seniors.
Matt reported that he would have liked a more in depth approach-( screwing in energy efficient light bulbs is all very well but not nearly enough).
He looks forward to the next session being more about using renewable energies and general renovations we can make to the home November 10th
(one of workshops with Dave Braden goings into depth about living off grid etc)

Perhaps there is truth to the notion that we ought to ask people to do more instead of less.

That's what people like at the Step it Up - 1 Sky organization in the US are finding out as they try to establish a climate change movement comparable to the Civil Rights movement. ( To read this article see The Nation October 22, 2007
Any body out there ready to 'march for the climate?'

EH workshops

To December 2007

Energy Conservation in the home

Power Shift Community Presentation: Energy Conservation provides

a general overview of energy saving retrofits for the home/business

owner and/or apartment dweller. Information is divided into

categories which include: lighting, heating and cooling, windows and

drafts, and hot water. Presentations can be tailored to specific

circumstances or areas of interest (i.e.: Electrical, Gas, or Oil

heating, etc.). Through demonstration items, we encourage audience

members to participate at a hands-on level.


Green Venture Energy Coordinator to discuss the conservation,

retrofits & government incentives

Greening your Home One Room at a Time

Take a virtual walk through Green Venture's EcoHouse and find

out how taking simple steps can lighten the ecological foot print of

your living space. Through a power point presentation, one of Green

Venture’s EcoHouse coordinators will demonstrate ways you can

usewater wisely, conserve energy, garden naturally, and reduce

waste in the home or apartment.

Leader: Eco House, Green Venture Co-ordinator

Living Off the Grid

Leader: Former Councillor Dave Braden will lead hands-on

workshops at his home.

Really want to reduce your ecological footprint?

Reduce your car dependency

'Commuting Challenge' (CD) game; this involves using a city map to

locate your home and dropping a CD over the spot. The radius of

the CD represents 2km.

Challenge yourself to walk or cycle within this radial distance.

Cycling in the city: safety tips

and bike routes

Transit in the city: More buses more often

Getting around by bus; Bus pass, tickets

an fare guides, free route maps and

schedules, information on new routes

(Bee-line, Bayfront Shuttle), safety tips

while riding the bus, trans-cab services.

Also included: Letter writing station to

write to elected representatives for more

buses more often.

Leader: Don McLean–Environment Hamilton

Randy Kay–Transportation for Liveable Communities

Make Your Own Rain Barrel

Come and learn how to make your own rain barrel

and bring home your masterpiece to put to the test.

Discuss other sustainable uses for water on your


Leader: Sean Burak

cost: cover costs of materials ($50)

location-Sean's residence

How to eat locally all year round:

planting and eating from your garden, how to properly store/freeze

summer yield to eat all year round, recipes for seasonal cooking, the

'100mile' diet. Free eat local map.

Leader: Sarah Megens,

(Environment Hamilton Eat Local project manager)

Power Shift Expert Panel Presentation: Renewable Energy Now

In panel format, representatives from the local renewable energy

sector provide practical information on innovative technologies,

products, processes, and services related to wind, solar and

geothermal energy. Because we tailor each presentation to the

individual audience, speakers can focus on urban or rural

residential, commercial, or industrial applications (e.g.: Solar hot

water heating for urban multi-use building, geothermal applications

for residential home in the rural environment, and investment

opportunities around Wind energy, to name a few). Regional case

studies and energy champions are integrated into each presentation

making the information relevant and tangible to the viewer.


Local Hamilton resident or business owner who has invested in

renewable technology (Case Study)

Green Venture Energy Advisor

Representative from the Renewable Energy Sector to discuss

innovative products and/or services

Pesticide free lawns

Green Venture’s Naturally Hamilton project is visiting community

groups across the Hamilton area conducting free seminars on

healthy safe pesticide-free lawn and garden maintenance. More

specifically, learn the difference between organic and petroleum

based fertilizers and pesticides. Information on the following topics

will also be available: healthy lawns, questions to ask lawn care

companies, alternative and native landscapes, dealing with weeds or

insects, and more.

Leader: Green Venture Energy Advisor

In touch with Nature

You have to know and love what you're fighting for! Get in touch

with nature with Dieter Staudinger, Dundas-based spiritual


Dieter will take the group on a hike where they will get reacquainted

with wild life and plant life.


Climate Change and Social Justice

(Details to follow)

Leader: Crystle Numan

Film Screenings:

An Inconvenient Truth will continue to be screened on request.

A Crude Awakening is available for screening with a following

discussion on peak oil with Richard Reble, retired teacher and EH

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Clean Air Hamilton

Thanks to Brain Montgomery of Clean Air Hamilton who invited me to speak about the climate project at a meeting yesterday.
The need to make crystal clear to people what they need to be doing was stressed.

There was a speaker before me who was marketing a tool for measuring air quality and green house gases emissions in a municipality. Sounded pretty high tech indeed- combined monitoring methods such as satellite remote sensing, atmospheric modelling and ground level monitoring to deliver active, web based maps of environmental processes.
(A-Maps Environmental Inc).

I had to skip out before they got to the Upwind Downwind Climate Change and Healthy Cities Conference next February 2008-

EH expects to attend this.


We attended the KAIROS event at Mount Mary Retreat Centre in Ancaster on Friday 12th October. Emily and I staffed the booth and we many some interesting contacts.
Our wonderful volunteer Betsy Agar was registered for the conference and was able to staff the booth as well when she wasn't in the workshops.

She wrote up a report which I have edited below;

Transportation and the future of cars

Presented by: Liz Benneian (Pronounced Bennyan)
President, Oakvillegreen Conservation Association

Key Transportation Issues: Peak Oil and Global Warming

Peak Oil

Oil is a finite resource and the world’s geologists estimate that half of our oil reserves have been used. Peak Oil is not to be confused with running out of oil. Peak oil is a point at which demand exceeds supply, which carries with it tremendous social impacts.

Citing the statistic that 20% of our fossil fuel energy is used in transport, Liz made the direct connection between transportation and Peak Oil. In fact, she refers to Peak Oil as a transportation issue, reasoning that built environment energy needs have so many alternatives available. As such, she projects that we will travel less in the future.

Global Warming

She spoke briefly of the limited fuel alternatives currently proposed for transportation: biofuels, ethanol and sugar cane.

Biofuels are not the answer because of the threat to food production.

Ethanol she discredits as an energy loser. That is to say, it takes too much energy to produce ethanol.

Sugar cane is the most promising alternative energy for transportation, but this option is not without drawbacks. Sugar cane is associated with deforestation and monocropping. Field burning is a practice that facilitates harvest but also produces pollution. Finally, sugar cane fuel production is another energy intensive process. The Return on Investment (ROI) is 8:1, which is significantly less than oil’s ROI of 40:1

North-South, East-West

Liz drew audible gasps from her audience when she reported that that the U.S. is responsible for 45% of global auto emissions, and that SUVs in the U.S. emit as much as the sum of 55 of their biggest coal-fired power plants. She is particularly concerned with the land use patterns developing nations are adopting: they are building suburbs; they are repeating our mistakes.

Environmental (In)Justice

She briefly mentioned the environmental impacts of the practices of the developed world, not to diminish their importance, probably to reserve attention for the social justice issues that, in my view, are often overshadowed by more locally relevant environmental issues. She highlighted our intense use of energy and raw materials.

Social (In)Justice

She directly connected our car culture with an undeniable rise in obesity rates, as well as pollution related illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. The prevalence of road accidents and our perception of risk were also discussed. We seem to have accepted these risks or somehow discounted their importance.

However, impacts not easily ignored but not often felt by people in developed nations, such as Canada include wars, civil conflicts and food scarcity. Without mention of every environmental activist’s favourite target, she drew attention to the immoral choices made in the name of oil. She linked the lack of action in Darfur to China’s import of Sudanese oil. Taking action in Darfur could, and likely would, threaten Chinese-Sudanese relations.

She illustrated the connection between food scarcity and Peak Oil, using corn as the example. Corn-based fuels increase demand for corn. Corn prices rise. Corn becomes expensive for consumption and farmers begin to cater to fuel producers. Also, excess corn is no longer available for humanitarian aid.

Under the heading:

“Why it is hard to change?” Liz suggested 10 reasons why these problems persist:

10 biggest companies in the world (

  1. Wal-Mart

  2. Exxon Mobil

  3. Royal Dutch Shell

  4. BP (British Petroleum)

  5. General Motors

  6. Toyota Motor

  7. Chevron

  8. DaimlerChrysler

  9. CononcoPhillips

  10. Total (Petroleum)

Her technique was effective. She stirred her audience, but did not leave them feeling helpless. She then proposed a challenge.

Envisioning the future

To begin the interactive portion of the workshop, she explicitly reminded:

  • We can’t take more than we give back

  • We can’t give back petroleum

Then she formed six groups of 5. Each group was to envision an ideal living scenario and work backwards to determine the necessary steps to achieve that ideal.


What – Explore visions/options

How – Strategize how this ideal can be achieved

Who – Examine who will have to take action

When – Examine short and long term goals to set out a timeline for action

Following the small group exercise, she invited the whole group to discuss their results. The following are some of those suggestions:


  • self-reliant community

  • walkable cities

  • individual involvement in community

Short Term

  • eat locally

  • dense living

  • lobby government to cut oil and gas subsidies

  • pesticides will disappear, they are petroleum based

Medium Term

  • systemic change

  • leadership

    • from the people

  • workplace “Green Team”

  • mandatory local civil service

    • like German model

Her final point was that no matter what the demographic, every group she meets with calls for a re-engineering of society. She has promised to post her slides online, which will be very valuable as she suggests a number of personal and corporate actions that can be taken. The highlights of her suggestions include:

  • Policy changes happen at the budget stage, the planning(?) stage is too late

  • Public transportation must be in place before people move in or they buy two cars

  • Bus rapid transit is the cheapest most flexible public transit option

The other workshop report from Betty is

Greening Sacred Spaces

Presented by: Rory O’Brien
GSS Coordinator, Faith & the Common Good


Rory was not originally slated to speak and chose to screen their movie: Greening Sacred Spaces, the research for which is credited to Rory O’Brien. The following are notes from the movie.


  • good stewards of Earth; calling for people of faith

  • multi-denominational

  • balance utility of space with environmental requirements

Energy Audit (In shortened version)

  • insulation

  • air leaks

  • appliances

  • water conservation

    • municipal subsidies may be available

  • HVAC distribution systems

  • Guide available at

Light Green

  • place to begin

  • hand wash dishes

  • Recycling program

  • Compost

  • Environmental cleaning products

    • Recommended types?

  • Fair trade products

  • Plant trees

  • Low maintenance plants

  • Rain barrels

  • Community garden

  • Congregation participation

Medium Green

  • more time and money

  • longer term payoffs

  • educate congregation

  • structural engineering analysis

  • churches are landmark buildings

    • lead by example

  • High efficiency furnace

  • Geothermal or ground source heat pumps

  • HVAC

    • Sophisticated distribution system

  • Natural lighting

    • Skylights

Deep Green

  • long term project; time to deliberate

  • LEED certification

    • Reuse of materials to divert waste

    • Daylighting

    • Reducing water use

  • Link between architecture with theology

  • Passive solar collection

  • Displacement ventilation

    • Cool air from raised floor

      • Fake floor; plenum

    • Hot air rises and is redirected

      • Into floor plenum in the winter

      • Outside in the summer

  • Living wall

  • Fundraising

  • Volunteering

  • Congregation involvement

Four Major Barriers

Following the video, Rory discussed the major barriers to greening sacred spaces.

  1. Motivation

    • For those not convinced of the social or environmental purpose, good energy conservation is just economic sense

  2. Knowledge

    • Guidebook available on website

    • Maintain HVAC systems

    • Retrofit

    • Energy audit

  3. Organizational

    • Develop a green team

  4. Financial

    • Audit can cost thousands

    • Recommendations can be very expensive

    • Long term benefits provide whole picture and convince it is worth while

Energy Audits

Green Communities Canada is an umbrella organization of Canadian energy auditors. Hamilton’s own Greenventure is a founding member ( A guidebook for going green is provided on the website of Faith and the Common Good, and it includes a “walk through” energy audit template. He strongly supports a professional audit, suggesting that the walk through audit starts people thinking and prompts behavioural change.

Monday, October 1, 2007

CEOs call for 'aggressive' action on climate change

CBC news
last updated:Monday, October 1, 2007

An influential group of Canadian chief executives says climate change is the "most pressing and daunting" issue the world faces today and business must do its share to fight the problem.

A task force of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives released a report Monday that calls for a national action plan that would see government, business and individuals working in concert to make real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

"We know enough about the science of climate change to recognize that aggressive global action is required," the report said.

The CEOs acknowledge that success in this area will come at a "significant" cost, but say it's one that must be borne by all sectors.

"The key is to make the right decisions about what investments in the short term will produce the greatest returns both now and over the long haul, for Canada's economy and for the global environment," the report said.

The CEOs argue that Canadian businesses have already done much to make their operations more energy-efficient, but say industry must do more.

The document said: "The ultimate goal must be to achieve substantial absolute reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases in Canada and globally."

But to achieve that, the report said government must ensure that companies are not "arbitrarily penalized in the short term" so they can make the necessary investments to cut their emissions while still improving productivity.

Investing in technological innovation is the best way to bring about the cleaner technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the task force said.

The technology funds being proposed by the federal and Alberta governments are critical to provide industry with the kind of incentives needed, the CEOs said.

Government intervention seen

They acknowledge that market forces alone are unlikely to be enough to do the job and that some kind of government intervention will be necessary.

One way to foster the needed change, they say, is through emissions trading systems that set a cap on emissions and then allow companies to take part in a market in tradable permits — much as the Kyoto Protocol does.

The federal government is proposing a domestic emissions trading system that would allow heavy polluters to buy carbon credits from other companies as one way to meet new greenhouse gas targets.

The CEOs' report said emissions trading is "attractive in theory" and that challenges in creating a fair and effective system can be worked out.

The other way governments can persuade businesses and consumers to cut emissions is by imposing a carbon tax. "But Canadians must recognize that significant levels of taxation likely would be required to drive significant changes in behaviour."

The CEOs said they are not proposing a new carbon tax. But they say if government decides to go that route, it should replace other forms of taxation so it doesn't turn into a "revenue grab."

They also warn that "any new tax in Canada must not discriminate against any particular sector or region" — a clear reference that Alberta's oilsands operations not be singled out for special tax attention.

The report was released the same day that Quebec's controversial carbon tax on energy companies goes into effect — the first of its kind in Canada.