Category Archives: Natural Assets

Sustainable Peterborough 2016 Award Winners!

SP award winners group photoIn order to recognize the numerous sustainable achievements of our partners in 2016, Sustainable Peterborough was proud to host the 2nd annual Sustainable Peterborough Partnership Recognition Awards!

There were eleven winners, one in each of Sustainable Peterborough’s theme areas. Awards were presented during the Sustainable Peterborough Partnership Recognition Event and Awards on April 20, 2017 at Market Hall. The winners were as follows:

Agriculture and Local Food

Farms at Work
The work of Farms at Work includes protecting farmland, supporting the building and expansion of the local food value chain, and helping farmers in stewarding their land. In 2016 Farms at Work completed five pollinator plantings on farms. They also ran three hands-on, on-farm five-day field courses and hosted two workshops on seed production. Moreover, they developed and piloted a unique Farm Business Planning Program. Farms at Work coordinates the East Central Ontario Stewardship Collaborative who in 2016 completed nearly 100 on-farm projects and hosted a workshop on climate change impacts, source water protection and invasive plants.

Climate Change

Trent University
Trent University, through their new Energy Performance Contract, is in the construction phase of a large-scale energy retrofit project anticipated to save more than 2,500 tonnes of CO2 annually. In 2016 they set an ambitious energy savings target of 11 GWh and have commenced revamping the entire campus for energy efficiency. In 2016, Trent has installed 8 high-efficiency boilers, updated the campus sub-metering system to be linked with an energy dashboard for energy efficiency, and replaced 33,167 lights with LEDs, to an annual savings of over 3 million kWh.

Cultural Assets

The partnership of Lang Pioneer Village Museum, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation
Lang Pioneer Village Museum with their Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nation partners completed a video entitled “Aabnaabin: Looking Back to Where We Came From”. A retrospective of the settlement period in Peterborough County from the perspective of both a European Settler and a Michi Saagig person native to the area, the video represents Lang’s efforts to equitably show the settlement period from both cultures’ perspectives. With the help of Tom Cowie, Kim Muskratt and Caleb Musgrave from Hiawatha, Anne Taylor and Tracey Taylor from Curve Lake and others, the First Nation interpretation at Lang has been expanded as part of the regular programming and at special events. The video (produced by Impact Communications and featuring D.J. Fife and Mark Finnan), along with interpretive panels at the Museum, acknowledge the debt owed by the immigrants from the old world to the local First Nations people.

Economic Development & Employment

Kawartha Local
Rob Howard started Kawartha Local to make it easy for people to give guaranteed local gifts. A Small Box Store, their gift crates and boxes are packed with products from the Peterborough area. In 2016 Kawartha Local won the Bears’ Lair competition in the Goods and Services category. Their goal is not just to sell local products, but also to introduce local consumers to local producers, to partner with local producers to create new offerings, and to provide a way for artists and artisans to showcase their works. Not only are the boxes and their contents locally made, the boxes themselves are designed to be reused and repurposed. The gift crate even converts to a book shelf or side table!


The partnership of Mortlock Construction and Lett Architects
In 2016 the partnership of Mortlock Construction and Lett Architects completed the construction of Lakefield College School’s new Upland Residence. Designed by Lett Architects and built by Mortlock Construction, the LEED Gold Certified building meets stringent environmental and sustainability standards, and combines natural materials into the existing natural bedrock that encases the residence.

Healthy Communities

Seeds of Change
Seeds of Change is a community hub that offers spaces in which everyone, regardless of age, socio-economic status, faith, race, gender, sexuality, ability, etc, can connect with others. Every two months they hold a community meal where everyone is welcome. To support the local economy and reduce their carbon footprint, they source much of their food from local producers. Food waste is composted and cycled into their community gardens. In 2016, in partnership with the Peterborough Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind, they developed a Sensory Garden. The opportunities offered at Seeds of Change directly reduce social isolation, while simultaneously improving physical health, nutrition, and mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Land Use Planning

Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan
In 2016 the Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan established the Solar Policy in order to protect agricultural land and areas of environmental protection. They recognize that green energy is an element of climate change mitigation but also that local agricultural production is needed for food security. To balance these objectives, the Solar Policy prioritizes roof-top solar. Several large scale rooftop installations are found on agricultural buildings across the Township. Second priority is given to micro solar with a minimal footprint, followed by small scale ground mounts on marginal lands. Their Solar Policy is an example of how to effectively balance the pillars of sustainability by supporting green energy without compromising the long term sustainability of agricultural land.

Natural Assets

The partnership of Otonabee Conservation, Siemens Canada Ltd. (Peterborough) and City of Peterborough
In 2016, 40 native trees were planted at Kiwanis Park in Peterborough through a partnership between Siemens Canada Ltd. (Peterborough), Otonabee Conservation, the City of Peterborough, and Tree Canada. Kiwanis Park was forested approximately 25 years ago, using Ash Trees which are unfortunately now susceptible to the effects of the Emerald Ash Borer. The trees newly planted ensure that new trees are established as the existing Ash Trees decline and are removed, as it is critical that forest cover is maintained, to provide shade, enhance habitat and increase biodiversity.


Fleming College Student Administrative Council
As a result of a student referendum, the Fleming College Student Administrative Council and Fleming College implemented a new transit fee within the student tuition fee. This resulted in a new student and staff carpooling program, a significant reduction of student and staff public transit prices, expanded transit service, cycling infrastructure, bike repair stations and the launching of Zagster, a commercial bike loan program. The Zagster program is a partnership with Fleming College and the City of Peterborough, resulting in the installation of bike loan stations at the Sutherland Campus and in downtown Peterborough. Students have access to these bikes at no extra charge, while staff and the general public can pay a fee to use them.


Belmont Lake Brewery
Located in Havelock, this locally owned small craft brewery opened in 2016. They produce virtually no waste, as their beer is sold in reusable medicine bottles and growlers and their only waste product, the mash grain, is given to a local farmer to feed his pigs.


In October 2016, in partnership with The Wine Shoppe and Green Communities Canada, the GreenUP run Depave Paradise project transformed 35 m2 of asphalt at the corner of Park St. and Brock St. in Peterborough into a water friendly green space. With support from Peterborough Utilities Group, GreenUP launched the WaterWise program, which recognizes homeowners who reduce water use through their landscape choices. GreenUP is a member of the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival (PCWF), along with Peterborough Utilities Services, Otonabee Conservation, City of Peterborough, Trent University, Ontario Waterpower Association, Riverview Park and Zoo. In 2016, the PCWF, with funding from the Healthy Kids Community Challenge and Ontario Trillium Foundation, launched the Wonders of Water pilot program, extending ongoing water conservation programming beyond the festival, into classrooms and to a broader audience.


Trent University grad Jessica Correa aims to spread the Random Acts of Green brand nationally

Jessica Correa is excited by all the Random Acts of Green she has posted on her company’s Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram accounts, but one stands out.

“We really liked the Ultimate Frisbee group,” Correa say. “They do the carbon flip.”

To explain: Correa, 24, has a master of environmental science degree, with a focus on sustainable development. She also runs a business, Random Acts of Green, dedicated to promoting environmental activities in the community.

The carbon flip is an Ultimate Frisbee staple the local league adopted. Instead of flipping discs to see which team gets the choice of starting on offence or defence they do a car count.

“They encourage everyone in the league to reduce their carbon footprint by carpooling to get to the game or use active transportation,” Correa explains.

The team with the fewest cars in the parking lot wins the “flip.” At the end of the year the team with the most flip points gets a pizza party or a keg party . . . “something fun,” as Correa says.

But the impact of the carbon flip is limited if no one knows about it. Post a high quality video on social media and the word gets around, one more pebble on a growing pile that could draw everyone’s attention to the possibilities of developing a sustainable lifestyle.

That’s what Correa and her team do.

“In our minds, if it’s not seen it’s not green.”

During grad school at Trent University, Correa looked at car sharing and how to market sustainable behaviour to her millennial generation. The focus groups she conducted led to a disheartening conclusion.

“I was frustrated with it,” she recalls. “I found that we’re all going to follow the same old formula: get a job, have a family, get a home, get a car. The same formula as our parents.”

She kept thinking someone should use social media to promote an alternative formula, one that simplified sustainability and brought it into everyday life. Not tree huggers or hippies or protesters, just regular people.

One day last December she had a “eureka” moment.

“I kept waiting for someone else to do it. Someone else should change the perception of environmentalism. And then I was like, ‘No one is! No one will!’ And then I was like, ‘OK, I’ll do it!'” When she is fired up, which is most of the time, Correa speaks in exclamation marks, an energetic bundle of mental activity shooting out sparks of innovation.

She is also very bright and highly focused. She finished her master’s program six months ahead of schedule while turning the Random Acts of Green concept into reality. She was soon snapping photos of people “doing green things” and posting them on social media, developing her “brand.”

Her posts started to draw attention. She was shocked when someone approached her for a quote on a green issue but it also prompted a second eureka moment – maybe she could make money at this.

“I just started dipping my toe in the world of the entrepreneur,” she says. She had no business experience but took “how to” seminars through Peterborough Economic Development and the Peterborough Innovation Cluster.

Now she pitches to clients who hire her to help them develop and popularize green initiatives. She posts video and photos of the events on her three Random Acts of Green social media platforms. Clients can put links to the sites on their own sites.

The City of Peterborough and the Peterborough Petes are among her clients.

Growing the business has been a struggle, she admits, but she’s confident the concept will work. Confident enough that she deferred her acceptance to a PhD program at the University of Waterloo.

Correa hopes to grow Random Acts of Green into “the number one green behaviour promoting brand in Canada.”

If that doesn’t happen, she says, she won’t have lost anything and will have gained an invaluable experience.

That’s a sustainable attitude, in any colour of the spectrum.

This is one of a series of articles commissioned and paid for by Sustainable Peterborough and published in partnership with The Peterborough Examiner. By Jim Hendry, Peterborough Examiner, original article published Saturday, November 12, 2016.

Rainwater reservoir helps Robinson Place stay green

Homes with a rain barrel connected to the downspout are fairly common today, saving up nature’s own water source for use watering gardens and washing cars.

But 20 years ago a rain barrel was a sign that whoever lived there was on the cutting edge of eco-awareness.

So to with Robinson Place, the massive but elegantly designed building at Water and Charlotte streets commonly referred to as “the MNR office.”

When it opened 20 years ago Robinson Place had a hidden resource down in the basement: a 35,000-litre rainwater tank, equivalent to a 24-by-12-foot swimming pool, eight feet deep.

Water from the tank is used to flush toilets. A seven-storey, 350,000-sq.-ft. building that provides office space to more than 1,000 provincial government employees has a lot of toilets.

David Burns didn’t know about the rainwater system when he signed on as building manager at Robinson Place. Nor was he aware of the large natural area, waterfall and vegetable garden tucked away on the Otonabee River side of the building.

Burns works for CBRE GCS Canada, a property management company hired by the province. Robinson Place is the largest of several buildings he is responsible for in Peterborough and area and his own office is there.

Designed as the provincial headquarters of the Ministry of Natural Resources (now Natural Resources and Forestry), it was originally used solely by MNR. Today it also has offices for six other ministries.

In eco terms, the building’s defining accomplishment is achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum status two years ago. Most LEED Platinum buildings were built with the exacting standard in mind. Robinson Place is one of just 12 in Canada to qualify in the “existing building operations and maintenance” category, and the first government building.

Technical upgrades that pushed the building into the platinum circle included magnetic bearings in the compressors of huge cold water “chillers” that drive the air conditioning system. Using a magnetic field instead of mechanical shafts reduced energy use, Burns explains.

Across the board, energy consumption has been reduced by 31% over the past decade, he says. Aggressive recycling promotion has steadily increased the rate of diverting waste from the city/county landfill site. In 2012 the diversion rate was 62%; for 2015 it was 77%.

Features like the vegetable garden also contribute to LEED success, Burns says. We walk from the bright, sunny lobby out to a rear stone courtyard. Off to the right is a gate, latched but not locked, in a tall fence covered with vegetation.

Inside the garden area, roughly the size of large backyard, we sit at one of several picnic benches. It’s a natural area without trimmed grass or landscaping. Seven raised vegetable planters, each six feet by four feet, are the most noticeable feature.

The planters overflow with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, melons, lettuce, spinach, onions, beets and carrots. Burns and 10 to 20 others who work at Robinson Place and tend the gardens each summer deliver their harvest to the nearby Lighthouse Community Centre at St. John’s Anglican Church.

Another hidden resource that contributes to the “green” aspect of Robinson Place is a bicycle parking area in the underground garage.

“We have a very high percentage of staff that bicycle to work,” Burns says, “in the range of 80 to 100 bicyclists.” Several garage parking spaces were converted to bike racks and a bicycle repair station.

The vegetable garden sits on top of the parking garage entrance. We go back out the gate and stroll alongside the waterfall, which more closely resembles a gently descending set of rapids. The quiet burble of tumbling water makes for a soothing little oasis.

It’s a popular lunchtime retreat, one that Burns and many of the building’s workers appreciate.

“I have people come up here from Toronto, consultants, and they say, ‘Oh my God, I wish I worked here.’ And I say, ‘Sorry, you can’t, because I am.’”

Employers take note: good, green design can help attract, and keep, good people.

This is one of a series of articles commissioned and paid for by Sustainable Peterborough and published in partnership with The Peterborough Examiner. By Jim Hendry, Peterborough Examiner, original article published Saturday, July 30, 2016.

Creating sustainable attitudes at Camp Kawartha Environmental Centre

Jacob Rodenburg is looking out the large, south-facing central window of the Camp Kawartha Environmental Centre, an innovative zero-carbon building that can still claim some environmental “one-and-only” features seven years after it opened.

While those features make the building a showcase for green construction techniques, they are just packaging for the real purpose of the centre.

Rodenburg and the centre’s staff want to help develop a generation of environmentally aware citizens who feel comfortable with nature and protective of it. It’s all about stewardship, he says, and with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and research help from Trent University the recently put together an action plan for achieving that goal – Pathway to Stewardship: A Framework for Children and Youth.

“It’s a vision of how we as a community can sponsor stewardship together . . . it’s a co-ordinated effort involving schools and parents and everybody to foster stewardship,” Rodenburg says.

“We make the argument that kids are born biophiic, which means they are born loving nature. And there is a little window of time there, where if they have direct exposure on a regular basis then they tend to cultivate that love. But if they don’t, then the window shuts.” That window is opening in front us and we’re are about to get tossed out. Where we’re standing has become the middle of a song circle for 30 children enrolled in the Environmental Centre’s day camp.

Craig Brant, the centre manager, has his guitar ready and good-naturedly shoos us away. The interview moves outside.

The centre is on an acre of land on Pioneer Rd. at the south edge of Trent University. Trent provided the site at no cost, along with access to 200 acres of university owned natural space criss-crossed with trails.

It’s an offshoot of Camp Kawartha, a non-profit summer camp and year-round outdoor education facility on Clear Lake. Rodenburg is the executive director at Camp Kawartha. The Environment Centre was built by Fleming College students under the direction of Chris Magwood, Canada’s foremost straw bale construction expert who was a Fleming instructor at the time. Principal funding came from the Gainey Family Foundation.

Partnering with Trent was important, Rodenburg says, because of the link to its school of education. Teaching future teachers how to instill respect for the environment in their students is a key component of the centre’s mission.

“Student teachers come here, they learn about some of the techniques and strategies for environmental education. They even learn about sustainable living. And then those same students do a practicum, implementing some of the things they learned,” Rodenburg says.

“Then they get a certificate from both Trent and Camp Kawartha saying you’re an eco-mentor, go forth and take environmental education into the schools.”

There are also 30-odd programs students from elementary school to university can take at the centre during the school year. The programs are tailored to mesh with the school curriculum, not just science but history, leadership, recreation and the arts.

Home life is equally important for turning young children into lifelong environmental stewards, Rodenburg says.

“The average kid these days tend to spend around seven-and-a-half hours a day in front of a screen. They are more apt to be able to name 100 corporate logos than be able to identify five things in nature.”

Parents can change that dynamic, Rodenburg suggests. Take children to the many green spaces in and around Peterborough. Create a planter box and grow some flowers and vegetables. Get a humming bird feeder. Put together a nature table that changes with the seasons. Kids can fill it up with what they find outdoors.

“And how you speak about nature is really important too,” he says. “A lot of parents will say, ‘Oh, yuck, put that down, that’s dirty.'” So what are you saying? Are you saying that nature’s dirty? If you start using the language of appreciation, and even of love and respect, that can mean a lot.”

Buildings, however sustainable, eventually crumble. Attitudes can last for generations.

This is one of a series of articles commissioned and paid for by Sustainable Peterborough and published in partnership with The Peterborough Examiner. By Jim Hendry, Peterborough Examiner, original article published Saturday, July 16, 2016.

Siemens is cutting its carbon footprint, locally and abroad

Sometimes, meeting a green goal is a simple as handing out a coffee mug.

Not just one mug, though.

Three years ago, an in-house team at Siemens that works to ensure the environmental footprint laid down by the Technology Dr. factory is as small as possible realized that their cafeteria went through a lot of paper cups.

“Employees were using a lot of paper coffee cups, and they were bringing them into the facility from Tim Horton’s etc., so we handed out reusable coffee mugs,” recalls Lori MacLeod, the plant’s environmental, health and safety manager.

“We also went a step further and said, ‘If you’re going to buy coffee in the cafeteria and use your reusable mug you get five cents off the coffee.”

Each of the 325 employees got a thermal mug. The result: in addition to whatever dent they made in paper cup consumption at local coffee shops, the cafeteria now buys 60 per cent fewer cups.

Similar employee participation initiatives help the local Siemens plant meet energy and waste reduction targets it gets from its national head office. But the impetus for green performance is ultimately driven by the international parent company.

Siemens AG, based in Germany, has 350,000 employees in 187 countries. One of its goals is to be the first world’s first major industrial company to reduce it’s output of carbon – the primary source of climate-change inducing greenhouse gas – to net zero.

The target date for a zero carbon footprint is 2030.

Scott Hoy is the facility and maintenance manager at the Technology Dr. plant. Since coming to Siemens from GE-Hitachi eight months ago he’s been responsible for a project to replace the large air handlers that heat and cool the 180,000 sq. ft. building, along with some of the rooftop HVAC units, with more energy efficient equipment.

“We can recover heat within the building, too,” Hoy says. “A lot of our processes give off heat, which would just be sent outside. We’re looking at a recirculation method and heat recovery to reduce that so we won’t have to use the gas fired heaters as much.”

Smaller efficiency measure are often suggested by employees through the company’s 3i program – ideas, impulses and initiatives.

“We had one employee up in the offices and one employee downstairs put in a 3i idea and I’ve approved it and it’s going through. It’s putting in motion sensors in the copy room and the coat room upstairs,” Hoy explains.

The sensors will turn lights on and off depending on whether someone is using the space.

“We could do that in the kitchen, too,” Macleod says, adding one more entry to the 3i file.

Macleod notes that the ubiquitous wooden pallets that arrive when equipment and supplies are delivered had been a problem.

“We had a real struggle finding someone who would use and recycle them. In the last two quarters we’ve actually diverted six tonnes of wood scraps into recycling.”

The skids are now recycled in Lindsay, an arrangement set up by Greenspace Waste Solutions, a Brampton based company that for the past year has mangaged the waste from the plant.

Following an extensive renovation of the plant’s offices, Greenspace is finding a home for less conventional “waste” that would otherwise end up in a landfill, Hoy says.

“We’re working with Greenspace and another company called CSR Ecosolutions. They will come in and take all the old office furniture, refurb it, fix it up, and then they donate it to charities that need it.”

Projects like that have helped push the plant’s waste diversion rate up to 73%, Macleod says. Ten years ago that figure was 61 per cent.

In January the plant received this year’s Environmental Excellence Business Award from Otonabee Conservation, recognizing Siemens employees for having planted 1,200 trees and shrubs around the city and county over the past five years.

Workers get paid time off to take part in those Earth Day tree planting projects, another example of Siemens’ commitment to a green agenda.

This is one of a series of articles commissioned and paid for by Sustainable Peterborough and published in partnership with The Peterborough Examiner.  By Jim Hendry, Peterborough Examiner, original article published Monday, May 23rd, 2016.