Archive for ◊ March, 2009 ◊

• Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Amen, and this includes Westmount and the other municipalities on the island. As long as we try to keep up this unsustainable lifestyle with token recognition of where our wealth comes from (the Earth), this charade will continue. No amount of switching to “alternative” fuels or replacing incandescent light bulbs for CFC bulbs will solve the problem. It’s more structural than that.

For the record, I will head to the summit on Westmount, for this hour, to see some stars, if that’s possible.

Source: Montreal Gazette

The city of Montreal will be an enthusiastic participant in Earth Hour this evening. Officials will switch off the lights at city hall and a few other municipal buildings, and the cross on Mount Royal will go dark for one hour beginning at 8:30.

But what is Montreal doing during all the other 364 days and 23 hours of the year to try to halt the planet’s quick march toward catastrophic climate change?

“Earth Hour is a really important project as an awareness tool and I can only congratulate the city for joining in,” said André Porlier of the Conseil régionale de l’environnement de Montréal, a coalition of local environment groups.

“But is Montreal doing enough to reduce greenhouse gases? Not at all, in my opinion.”

Category: Urban Planning | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
• Saturday, March 21st, 2009

UPDATE July 23rd: According to Sevag Pogharian, the architect, the homes won’t be ready for another 2 months (late September/early October).

The homes in Hudson, west of Montreal, will be ready for viewing in June. Concordia University and other will measure the effectiveness and energy use for one year to verify the “net-zero” claim.


Imagine living in a house that produces as much energy as it consumes; a house unaffected by power failures or ice storms?

That house is now a reality. The Alstonvale Net Zero Energy House, under construction in Hudson, Que., will demonstrate the attainability of a net-zero energy lifestyle without the use of fossil fuels or production of greenhouse gases.

The ANZEH was one of 12 winners chosen in 2007 by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s nationwide EQuilibrium initiative, a sustainable housing program launched in 2006 and geared to net-zero emissions of carbon dioxide.

The merits of the proposals were measured on the basis of how well they achieve: net-zero energy consumption, a healthy indoor environment, a reduction in resource consumption, a low impact on the environment, affordability and the potential to build a similar house elsewhere in Canada.

Six of the houses have already been built and the rest are under construction.

When completed in June, the ANZEH house, about 60 kilometres west of Montreal, will be the “poster boy” of environmentally sustainable housing.

“The ANZEH kills two birds with one stone. It converts sunlight to electricity, and usable thermal heat,” architect Sevag Pogharian, the head of the ANZEH project, said.

“A net-zero energy house is tied to the utility’s electric grid and draws electricity from it. However, the key component is that it also generates electricity on site, through renewable means, and returns at least as much energy to the grid as it draws from it. This insures a zero-energy consumption balance with the grid over any 12-month period,” Pogharian said.

It does this by relying on an innovative solar technology known as a building-integrated photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T), the latest development available in solar panel or module technology.

The Canadian-made panels will be placed on the building’s south-facing facade, harvesting the sun’s power and converting it to the electricity that runs the heat pumps, lights and appliances.

The thermal energy drawn from the modules is diverted to heating the water in a 4,500-litre water reservoir in the basement. The heat from the reservoir is used to produce hot water.

“We send all the electricity we make directly to the grid, and pull everything we need from the grid in order to run the electrical systems,” Pogharian said. “This is the most direct, constructive method of utilizing the energy the house produces.

“The idea is to generate all the energy needed for domestic and general requirements, including electricity to power an electric car, and integrated home-scale agriculture, which includes a small greenhouse.”


• Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

This idea – an Expo modeled after the 1967 World’s Fair and devoted to Sustainability – sounds very exciting. But why wait until 2017? The idea is to coincide with the country’s 150th anniversary. Do we have that much time to teach people about sustainability? I hope so.

The site: Expo 2017

• Saturday, March 07th, 2009

In my experience, anything that is fast, cheap and easy to make is generally bad for human health, bad for the Earth’s health, and most likely both.

Styrofoam is one of the first modern pollutants (invented in 1938) that is considered a necessity of everyday commerce and agriculture. Yet at the same time, it pollutes us and the earth while these effects are not perceptible unless you visit a landfill or a polluted riverfront or beachfront. It is convenient that the inconvenient truth of plastics pollution is kept far away from the public eye.

This story in the Montreal Gazette hints at the nefarious affects of styrofoam but treads lightly. Most likely because major advertisers like Loblaws and Metro run ads in the Gazette. Alternatives are not really discussed which is strange. When I was a boy, 35 years ago, my mother would receive meat from the butcher wrapped in white paper.

The leading solution is an outright ban on the stuff. About 30 municipalities in California have done so to date. Recycling it is just a feel-good solution that shifts the problem to someone else, somewhere else. It currently costs about $3,000 per ton to recycle it – not exactly good business.

The story is quite long. You can read it here.

Category: Waste | Tags: , ,  | 2 Comments
• Saturday, March 07th, 2009

With rising food prices around the world and increased awareness and concern about the global food crisis, Engineers Without Borders and Sustainable Concordia present an idTalk panel discussion on approaches to sustainable agriculture in developing communities to mitigate the food crisis.

Sustainable agriculture has been heralded as a means by which the food crisis can be averted and food security and sovereignty enhanced in the developing world. However, what does the concept of sustainable agriculture mean in its socioeconomic, political and ecological components, and how is it connected to addressing the ’silent tsunami’ of global hunger?

Date:Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Start Time: 19h00 (Doors Open:18h30)

Room EV 2.260
1515 St. Catherine West, Montreal

Fair Trade Organic Coffee & Tea and Snacks will be served!

No Reservations, first-come, first served


Professor Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Concordia University


Program Manager for Latin America
USC Canada


Former Long-Term Volunteer
Engineers Without Borders Canada


Sustainable Action Fund Coordinator
Sustainability Concordia

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