Category Archives: Energy

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.


Peterborough Utilities offers advice with cap-and-trade set to kick in on Jan. 1 in Ontario

For anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to the Ontario government’s new approach to combatting climate change, it’s time to start.

New Year’s Day is the day of reckoning. The price of gasoline is going to jump four cents a litre and every other form of energy will follow suit.

Electricity, natural gas, propane, heating oil … the province is tacking a premium on them all in what amounts to the official kick-off of Ontario’s cap-and-trade program.

The purpose is to put a price on carbon. Make carbon more expensive and people will be inclined to use less of it. Less carbon use means lower greenhouse gas emissions. Fewer emissions slows the pace of climate change.

Cap-and-trade essentially creates a carbon market. The province is capping the total amount of carbon that can be produced and assigning individual cap amounts to large industries and businesses. Those that are over their cap will have to buy carbon credits, those that are under their cap will be sellers.

Homeowners, tenants and smaller businesses aren’t directly involved in the cap-and-trade market but still have a large stake in how it works.

That’s because cap-and-trade and higher prices on fuel and home heating are just one element of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan. They are the penalties that create a financial incentive to use less energy; they also produce revenue, revenue the province is promising it will use to help people buy greener cars and trucks, more efficient heating and cooling systems for homes and businesses, and to install alternative energy sources.

When cap-and-trade is running full out in 2020 the province expects to take in $1.9 billion annually to invest in those programs.

But higher energy prices are already here. For anyone interested in reducing both their carbon footprint and their energy bills some programs already exist.

The most comprehensive programs are for low-income tenants and homeowners. Those who qualify can get free upgrades for insulation, programmable thermostats, indoor clothes drying racks, possibly even new appliances.

Cathy Mitchell, conservation technical co-ordinator with the distribution arm of Peterborough Utilities Inc., says the local electrical utility expects to provide up to $85,000 in subsidies this year to low income households. The target is to increase that to $110,000 in 2017.

Enbridge Gas and Union Gas have an equivalent Home Winterproofing Program.

Other subsidy programs are available regardless of income. The Heating and Cooling Initiative will provide up to $650 to replace older furnaces and air conditioners, and anyone can print out on-line coupons that bring down the cost of everything from LED light bulbs to clotheslines and weatherstripping.

All those incentives and programs are explained on a central website:

The PUI program is funded by the Independent Electricity System Operator, a non-profit agency that oversees Ontario’s electricity market. It was created in 1998 as part of the breakup of Ontario Hydro.

Small business owners can also take advantage of conservation incentives. Mitchell says she worries that smaller companies that don’t have enough staff to dedicate someone to energy management tend to focus on replacing equipment only after it breaks down.

As a result they often aren’t aware of incentives that can make upgrades pay for themselves while reducing energy consumption, she said.

PUI’s target is to have the subsidy programs it oversees result in 39 gigawatt hours of electricity conservation by 2020. That would be the equivalent of taking every home in Lakefield off the electricity grid.

As cap-and-trade and the provincial Climate Change Action Plan go into full swing those subsidy programs will expand. The province and local utilities are working on pilot projects now, Mitchell said.

The province has made it clear that retrofit programs now available only to low income households will expand. The federal government will also feel pressure to fund home energy conservation initiatives.

Higher energy prices have arrived. It only makes sense to take advantage of the incentives that are the other half of Ontario’s climate change reduction equation.

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, December 31, 2016.

Ontario begins cap-and-trade Jan. 1

From the moment Stone Age man discovered more than 500,000 years ago that a fire could be lit and controlled, carbon has been the engine of civilization.

Carbon is nature’s basic building block, found in every living thing, plant or animal. Over time nature recomposed a lot of that carbon into fossil fuels: coal, natural gas and crude oil. Pulled out of the ground, they fuelled a carbon-dependent, energy-consuming society.

Which means that putting the brakes on the amount of carbon we burn is a big, complex project.

Ontario has adopted a five-year plan to cut reduce carbon consumption, the Climate Change Action Plan. Peterborough has its own plan, one that covers both the city and county.

This coming Jan. 1 anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to what’s been going on in the world of carbon control will wake up to the new reality of “cap and trade.”

For most of us the result will be deceptively simple. Gasoline will cost an extra 4.3 cents a litre. You’ll see the evidence on the signs at every gas station you pass.

Heat your home with natural gas, or the water you shower in? Cook with it? You’ll pay 3.3 cents more for every cubic metre you burn. With a current price of about 11 cents a cubic metre that’s a 30-per-cent increase.

Diesel fuel will go up 5 cents a litre, propane 4 cents a cubic metre.

The effect on electricity prices won’t be nearly as drastic. Nuclear plants, hydro dams and alternative energy sources produce almost all of Ontario’s electricity these days. Coal is done and natural gas plants are on their way out.

How much those price increases cost individual consumers will vary, but it’s not hard to come up with some average figures. Natural Resources Canada says that a new, average-sized Canadian home burns about 2,700 cubic metres a year for heating. That translates to an additional $89 a year at 3.3 cents a cubic metre.

If your car use 10 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres and you drive 30,000 kilometres a year your annual cap-and-trade premium will be $115.

While those price hikes are what most of us will experience directly, they are a small part of the overall cap-and-trade mechanism.

Cap-and-trade is one of several ways governments can attempt to force down the use of fossil fuels, and therefore reduce the future impacts of climate change.

The “cap” is a ceiling set on carbon emissions. Ontario has set its 2017 cap at the equivalent of 142.3 million tonnes of CO2 , commonly referred to as greenhouse gases (GHG), released into the atmosphere. Ever industry and businesses that emits GHG gets an individual cap number. Those that release more carbon than their cap allows can buy carbon allowances; those that release less than their cap can sell allowances or bank them.

Each year for the next five years time the cap will be lowered, increasing pressure on everyone to get under their cap and save money.

For 2017 the mandatory cap will apply only to very large industries and institutions that release 25,000 or more tonnes of CO2 annually, a total of 140 province-wide. Industries and institutions that produce less than 25,000 tonnes of GHG can voluntarily register for the cap-and-trade program.

Cap-and-trade also applies to companies that sell energy, including natural gas suppliers Enbridge and Consumers Gas and gasoline distributers. That is where the price increases that affect individuals come in. The province has mandated those increases in an attempt to cut consumption.

In Ontario, cap-and-trade is expected to generate $2 billion a year by 2020. The province intends to put all that money into environmental measures and incentive programs to cut GHG emissions: investment in public transit, bigger grants to offset the cost of buying electric cars, retrofit programs for homes would be among them.

A future article will look at how those programs will work, and how consumers can take advantage of them.

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, December 10, 2016.

Old building, new approach as The Mount embraces sustainable growth

Andi van Koeverden is in her office in the oldest section of the former Mount St. Joseph convent, describing the work that has gone into creating the Mount Community Centre in a massive, 120-year old building that sat vacant for four years.

While the story is intriguing, I find it hard not to be distracted by the unusual stand that supports her computer screen.

It’s a used paint can. The screen’s circular base fits perfectly in the lid of the can and sits at just the right viewing height to reduce strain on her neck.

When I ask about it she laughs and says by way of explanation: “I don’t usually do interviews in this office.”

Maybe she should. The recycled can, paint drips and all, is an effective visual reminder of her observation that “sustainability has so many facets.”

That’s something she’s come to appreciate during her two years as strategic advancement director at the Mount project.

“At the end of the day this building is not in the landfill,” she says. “That is nothing short of a miracle.”

Portions of the rambling, 130,000-square-foot complex on Monaghan Rd. are protected under the Ontario Heritage Act so it would not likely have been torn down and replaced.

However, van Koeverden notes, it could have simply fallen apart over time.

When the developer that purchased the complex from the Sisters of St. Joseph in 2009 abandoned its condominium restoration plan, the Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network stepped in.

The non-profit group’s vision of affordable housing and a “food hub” eventually morphed into a grander plan run by a volunteer board, the Mount Community Centre. The complex is now on its way to becoming housing, offices for non-profit agencies, an arts and culture centre and a food centre with community gardens and a commercial-grade kitchen and food processing capability.

The first 43 apartments opened three weeks ago in the most modern wing, renamed Woodland Apartments. The wing had contained 130 tiny residence rooms, not much more than cubicles, that were used by Sisters of St. Joseph nuns.

Volunteer crews tore out 1.5 linear kilometres of cinderblock walls in the process, van Koeverden says, and all if it was repurposed as fill.

Volunteers also took apart, repainted and reassembled large wooden wardrobes that had been the Sisters’ closet space. They are now part of the new apartments.

“When the Sisters came through for their tours, three of then when I told them that story, their eyes filled with tears that we weren’t dumping their wardrobes in the dumpster.”

Along with the old and preserved there is new and high-tech.

A large room on the ground floor is dedicated to storage of e-bikes, complete with recharging stations. Three massive old boilers have been replaced with super-efficient Viessmann boilers that she describes as “literally, the size of a beer fridge” and which can heat half the entire building space.

Peterborough Utilities staff did an assessment of the original building and the renovation plan “and we are eligible for rebates and incentives right down to every bathroom fan in the apartment units, motors for the big air handler units on the roof, even installing low-flow toilets,” van Koeverden says.

“Even something like 50 bucks for every toilet is a huge incentive.”

She takes special pride in the food hub and plans for up to 100 garden plots in 5,000 square feet of space. Tenants will have first call but there will likely be many left for the general public.

“We envision training programs, people learning to grow fresh produce in their own garden plots and then on Tuesday and Thursday nights learn how to make soup, or can it … or what have you.”

The plan has echoes of the community garden plots the Sisters offered on the property 50 years ago.

“We are trying to carry on that legacy as well of service to society,” van Koeverden says, “so, trying to sustain that legacy.”

One more facet of sustainability, one that goes well beyond bricks and mortar.

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 Friday, October 28, 2016.


Business through a sustainable lens

The thick countertop at Green Eyewear has the unmistakeable lustre of old wood, but customers who routinely comment on it might be surprised by its origin.

The planks come from a Hamilton factory that supplied munitions for the Canadian Army in both world wars. It was also home to Studebaker Canada’s assembly plant.

At some point during an expansion years ago, old-school industrial shipping crates were broken down and the inch-and-a-half thick, 12-inch wide boards were repurposed as flooring, explains Shane Palmer, co-owner with Amanda Palmer of the eyewear store at Hunter and Aylmer streets.

The last Studebaker made in Canada rolled out of the plant in 1966 but the aging factory building survived. Two years ago it was was torn down and a Grimsby demolition company ended up with the flooring.

Rob Bianco, a cabinet and furniture maker in Warsaw, acquired the wood. At the same time the Palmers were moving Green Eyewear from George St. to its current location. Bianco supplied them with some of that planking to fashion the countertop that became a focal point of the store.

The re-use triple play – packing crates to flooring to countertop – reflects the Palmers’ low-environmental-impact approach to everything about the business. The rest of the counter is barn board that was used as shelving in their former George St. store, barn board that Palmer bought from a farm in Keene a decade ago.

“I got a really good deal on it because a lot of it was rotten but the lady made me take it all,” he recalls. “She told me I could go back to the big city with nothing. I told her I was from Peterborough.”

Other sections of what had been barn board shelving were cut down and hung vertically on the new store walls. Instead of sitting on shelves, glasses are suspended on metal rods down the middle of the boards.

“We just try to re-use stuff, you know like old chairs . . . as much as we can.”

Two vintage red 1950s chairs in the store were made by Nightingale Corp. in Toronto, still a major Canadian furniture manufacturer.

But their main “green” focus is the products they sell. One supplier, Tipton Eyeworks, provides a line known as Vinylize Eyewear. The frames are made of recycled LP vinyl records and all the metal in them is also recycled. Another style of frames is fashioned from repurposed camera film. Film is made with cellulose acetate and has a base of plant fibres, not petroleum.

The Palmers have also made a commitment to local production. Many of their frames are designed by Paul Storace, founder of Alternative Eyewear and Plan B. Storace has lived in Millbrook for more than a decade and the edgy, internationally competitive eyewear company’s offices are in Ajax.

Storace hires his marketing expertise in Peterborough and subscribes to the “buy local” philosophy whenever possible, Palmer says, which helps Peterborough’s economy. His frames are not as environmentally friendly as the Vinylize line so Green Eyewear donates $2 to Peterborough GreenUP for every pair sold.

The Palmers met more than 20 years ago while both were at university in Ottawa. Ten years ago they decided to go into business for themselves and to do it in Peterborough, which they saw as a good place to raise a family.

In 2014 they moved the store from George St. to a new building developed by Ashburnham Realty. Part of the attraction was the building philosophy of the firm’s principals, Paul Bennett and Rob Fisher. “They probably build more environmentally focused than most people do for commercial buildings,” Palmer says.

The walls of the four-storey, mixed residential and commercial complex are constructed of foam blocks filled with poured concrete. The method, known as ICF, produces insulating factors in the R-19 range and makes the building nearly soundproof.

Now well-established commercially and settled into an environmentally friendly building, the Palmers’ vision of a unique “green” Eyewear business has come fully into focus.

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, September 10, 2016.