Thursday, 30 May 2013

Innovation Place: A Culture of Sustainability

“Sustainability is at the root of all we do,” says Gord Joorisity, Executive Director of Project Management for Innovation Place. “It’s the way we do business.”

Innovation Place is a Saskatchewan Crown corporation with technology parks on the university campuses in Saskatoon and Regina as well as a forest sector building in Prince Albert. Their mission is to support the growth and success of the province’s technology sector.

Innovation Place operates 26 buildings with 185 tenants in three different cities. That’s a huge responsibility but also a tremendous opportunity to lead the way in building and maintaining environmentally-friendly buildings.

Sustainability is not a special initiative at Innovation Place; it’s standard operating practice. “We own and operate the buildings and will be managing the space for a considerable length of time,” Gord explains, “so we need to consider minimizing operating cost, not simply the initial capital costs.” Let’s take a look at how they do it.

Planning & Design
Minimizing waste and maximizing efficiencies begins at the planning and design stage. Innovation Place has adopted an integrated design approach, which looks at the whole building as a single system.

“We spend more time on building a tight building to keep the heat/cool in the building,” Gord explains. “We spend a little more on design, but overall energy consumption and operating costs are less.”

Carpet and ceiling tiles are installed throughout the shell of the new building before the internal walls go up. This minimizes cutting and waste as the tiles do not need to be cut to fit each individual space. This also results in savings on labour costs.

The focus is on the overall lifecycle of the building. Carpet tiles are more expensive than broadloom, but money is saved in the long run because individual tiles can be replaced rather than having to replace the entire carpet.

Minimizing waste begins in the planning process as they try to design leasehold spaces that will be compatible with more than one tenant’s needs (e.g. office size).

During demolition, they try and salvage as much material as possible so that doors, ceilings, light fixtures, and other items can be reused. If there is surplus material, it is donated to Habitat for Humanity or a charitable organization.

New buildings are designed to LEED standards to minimize the overall energy requirements. Heat pumps are effective in the shoulder seasons, while heat recovery systems recover most of the heat that is being exhausted out of the building in order to pre-warm air coming into the building.

Thermal scans have been done on some of the older buildings to see where there is gross energy leakage. Operating schedules are closely monitored in order to lower set temperatures in the evenings or on weekends.

In keeping with its mandate, Innovation Place tries to provide opportunities to use new technologies in the parks in order to help industry to build capacity.

A small vertical wind turbine has been installed on a building in the Regina park in partnership with the University of Regina who will use it for research purposes.

Innovation Place has just installed a solar array on the Atrium building in Saskatoon with net metering arrangements with the City of Saskatoon.

Lighting fixtures in many of the buildings were upgraded 6-10 years ago, and this has saved a great amount of energy. They are looking into LED lighting and have introduced it in certain areas, but it is still expensive. “The energy savings are spectacular,” Gord says. “It won’t be long till it’s affordable for general lighting use.”

Programmable, dimmable lighting systems have been installed in the two newest buildings in Saskatoon and Regina. The artificial lighting dims automatically when the natural light is high. Later in the day, when there is less natural light, it increases to a higher level. The lighting system has shown good success, particularly in one building, so Innovation Place will be looking at other places where it can be used.

Dark sky lighting has been installed in most of the Regina park and has been installed as a test project along Innovation Boulevard in Saskatoon. Outdated fixtures will gradually be replaced with LED lights that have been designed to direct the light down where it’s needed rather than wasting energy by shooting it in all directions. Dark sky lighting is believed to benefit some wildlife that are adversely affected by light pollution.

The parks are looking at turning outdoor lighting down when there are no people on the site, but they are having difficulty figuring out how to make it work while still maintaining safety.

Water reduction strategies were an important part of the planning process for the LEED-certified buildings. Older buildings, such as the Galleria building, have also been switched to low-flow toilets and touch-free fixtures, which reduce the length of time the water flows.

Outdoors, the focus is on drought-tolerant plants along with rainwater and moisture sensors to control when the water comes on.

Gord says that the next big challenge is helping tenants understand the impact they have on energy reduction. This process has begun with the introduction of recycling and carpooling programs.

“Now, we want to work with tenants so they’re aware of how much energy they’re using,” Gord says. “Office electrical equipment is the biggest energy user.” Innovation Place is exploring ways of measuring energy in different spaces and sharing that information with tenants. “I believe that if you measure things they get done,” Gord says. “If people aren’t aware of how much energy they use, they won’t be able to change their habits.”

The results of Innovation Place’s sustainability efforts are demonstrated by the awards they have received from industry. Almost all the client-occupied buildings have been certified by BOMA, the Canadian industry standard for green certification (established by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada Building Environmental Standards). In 2012, two Innovation Place buildings were officially awarded Level 4 certification, a level that only 2% of all buildings in Canada have achieved and the only two buildings in Saskatchewan to receive this top designation.

Innovation Place has two out of only three LEED Gold certified buildings in Saskatchewan, awarded by the Canada Green Building Council. The Forest Centre building in Prince Albert was the first building in Saskatchewan to receive this designation in 2006.121 Research Drive in Saskatoon was awarded LEED Gold in 2012.

The Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) awarded Innovation Place Silver in the 2008 IPAC Award for Innovative Management. The theme for the award was Managing the Green Workplace/ Innovations in Greening.

Innovation Place was recognized for its integrated management approach that minimizes the environmental impact during building construction and reduces resource use during operation. They were also lauded for doing this while maintaining high satisfaction levels from tenants, contractors and employees.

Innovation Place was named one of Canada's top 30 greenest employers by AON Hewitt, a ranking that is based on how employees perceive their employers’ environmental efforts. Innovation Place ranked 11 out of 280 eligible companies in Canada. As Gord says, sustainability is not a special initiative at Innovation Place – it’s part of the culture.

More information about Innovation Place’s sustainability measures is available on their website.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

EcoSask News, May 28, 2013


NatureCity Festival
The NatureCity Festival is on until Friday, May 31, and there are so many great events:

Tuesday, May 28 - Chappell Marsh tours, wild bees on the Prairies

Wednesday, May 29 – Meet a burrowing owl, look for wildflowers in Peturrson’s Ravine, go for a walking tour of the Patterson Garden Arboretum, find out about wolves, or learn to make compost

Thursday, May 30 – Lakewood Park bird walk, urban herbin’ on Avenue P, revolutionary tea party, natural grassland walk

Friday, May 31 – Medicine walk with Joseph Naytowhow, birding at Idylwyld sloughs, school garden events, Festival finale

Tiger Hunting, June 8
The Saskatoon Nature Society will be hunting for tigers in the Tiger Hills on June 8. Tigers – that’s tiger beetles, tiger lilies, tiger swallowtails, tiger moths, tiger salamanders, and water tigers. Sounds like fun!

Butterflies, June 9
Learn how to identify butterflies with the Saskatoon Nature Society. The trip will be cancelled if weather is poor.

Summer Field Trips
Both the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan and the Nature Conservancy of Canada offer wonderful opportunities to explore Saskatchewan nature. Don’t miss these fun outdoor opportunities.

Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan Summer Field Tours

Nature Conservancy of Canada (Saskatchewan) – Volunteer Opportunities


Plastic Smart Saskatoon
Plastic Smart Saskatoon was in the news. Check it out.

Campus Composting
Three universities in Ontario are taking different approaches to collecting organic waste on campus. One will be run by students; one is handled by a private company; and the third is completely in-house.

Business Goes Green
TreeHouse, a green hardware store in Austin, Texas, is earning a reputation as the “Whole Foods version of Home Depot.”

Can you imagine a city ruled by cyclists not car owners? No? Then be sure to read In the City of Bikes: An American Discovers Amsterdam by Pete Jordan. Jordan takes us through the decades recounting everything from dinking and bike fishermen to the German Occupation.

Green Building Practices
How to buy an energy-efficient hot-water heater (infographic)

UK’s green building hub will test building fabrics

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

EcoSask News, May 21, 2013


NatureCity Festival, May 25-31
The NatureCity Festival, May 25-31, is jam-packed full of activities. There is Animal Yoga, Wild Bees and Bee-Keeping, a Burrowing Owl Meet and Greet, a Flash Planting Mob (Saskatoon bushes), Wolves – Making the Connection, and art exhibits. Check out the full range of activities on Wild About Saskatoon’s website.

Forestry Farm Centennial Fair, May 26
Head on out to the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo from noon to 5 pm on May 26 to celebrate the Farm’s 100th Anniversary. The Centennial Fair will include concessions, wagon rides, old-fashioned games and contests, an artisan marketplace, and demonstrations.

International Trails Day, June 1
There will be plenty of action along the Meewasin trails on June 1 in celebration of International Trails Day. There will be music, vendors, and a formal program in Friendship Park. Additional free activities include fitness classes, geocaching, interpretive walks. and more.

New Provincial Park
Saskatchewan has a new provincial park! Great Blue Heron Provincial Park will cover 11,168 hectares north of Prince Albert and will encompass the recreation sites at Anglin and Emma Lakes.

Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides
Sierra Club Canada is calling on the federal government to ban bee-killing pesticides.


Don’t Toss It Away. Fix It!
Do you hate it when an electrical appliance breaks, and it’s cheaper to buy a new one than to fix it? Then you need a Repair Café where volunteer repair specialists will help you fix it. The first Repair Café was in Amsterdam, but they are spreading around the world with one opening soon in Toronto.

Interesting Reading
Northumbrian Water is turning 100% of its sewage into renewable energy

The economic and educational value of retrofitting schools

Eco-spirituality - towards a values-based economic structure

What are the implications of federal energy policies?

Sustainable Business
In The Guardian, Dr. Joseph Zammit-Lucia says, “Sustainability is not about nature, science or ideology but about people, and the choices societies make....If we are only creating value at the expense of the environment, then we are creating no value at all….Sustainable business cannot be the result of some kind of guilt trip that results in management throwing a little bit of money to make them feel better and to look good in the annual report. Rather we need to set about the much tougher task of creating a vision of the sort of future that we are offering people. A future that can credibly promise what people care about – jobs, security, social cohesion, improving living standards – in an ecosphere that remains viable.”

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

EcoSask News, May 14, 2013

March Against Monsanto, May 25 
As part of the May 25 International Day of Action against Monsanto, there will be a march in Saskatoon starting at noon in Kinsmen Park.

River Clean-Up, May 26
PlasticSmart Saskatoon is holding their first river bank clean-up on May 26 at 11 am. Meet in the metered parking lot behind the Diefenbaker Canada Centre.

Nature Conservation Volunteers 
You’re invited to join the Nature Conservancy of Canada in caring for our natural places. Contact the NCC for full details.
June 1 – Buffalo Valley Bioblitz
July 13 – Edenwold Bio-Inventory
July 20 – Reed Lake Important Bird Area Stewardship Blitz
August 9 – Count and Cuddle Leopard Frogs
August 17 – Old Man on his Back
August 22 – Maymont Walk on the Wild Side

Wilderness Navigation, June 2
CanoeSki is offering a Wilderness Navigation and Orienteering Course on June 2 from 8:30-4:30. There will be a classroom session in the morning and an outdoor session in the afternoon.

Join the Saskatoon Nature Society on their frequent birdwatching field trips. Additional information is available on their website.
May 20 – Shorebirds southeast of Saskatoon
May 22 – Warbler migration at Cosmopolitan Park
May 25 – May Day Bird Count

Nocturnal Owl Survey 
Saskatchewan is home to 11 different species of owls at different times of the year. Seven of them can be heard on the Saskatchewan Nocturnal Owl Survey. If you’d like to participate, contact Alan R. Smith at Environment Canada.

Chaplin Lake Tours
The Chaplin Nature Centre offers two-hour tours by bus of Chaplin Lake on a regular basis between May 18 and August 31. See a variety of shorebirds and learn about the sodium sulphate mine and brine shrimp industry. They offer additional longer tours of the surrounding area.

Books and Films
Community Pastures: Red Hat Studios would like to make a film about Saskatchewan’s community pastures. Contribute now to help them achieve their goal.

Kids' Books: Elin Kelsey has written a number of award-winning books for kids to help them understand that they are part of the natural world. You Are Stardust and Not your Typical Book about the Environment are two of them. Jane Goodall says, “Elin Kelsey has produced a highly engaging book, pointing out surprising connections between kids’ lives and the rest of the planet. The illustrations are fantastic and make a complex subject—conservation and sustainable living—easy to understand. A wonderful book for educating children—and adults—about the environment.”

Urban Agriculture: Farming the City: Food as a Tool for Today’s Urbanization is designed to provide urban farmers around the world with a platform to share ideas and inspiration. A central message of the book is how food can be used as a tool for urban development. (via Pop-Up City).

History of a Movement: A Fierce Green Fire, a film based on a book of the same title, documents the history of the environmental movement over the past 50 years. The film points to two events that helped spark the movement: the environmental disaster at Love Canal and Greenpeace’s efforts to stop whaling ships.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Invite a Muskrat into your Home

Muskrat at Pike Lake
Winter is finally over. Here’s a muskrat photograph to join you in greeting the warmer weather. Just follow the instructions outlined below to download the photograph to your computer as background or desktop wallpaper.

Windows Instructions
  1. Click on one of the links below (NOT the small image above)
  2. Right click on the displayed image
  3. Choose "Set as Wallpaper" or "Set as Background"
Mac Instructions
  1. Right click on one of the links below ( NOT the small image above)
  2. Choose "Download Linked File" or "Save Link As"
  3. Right click on the download and choose "Show in Finder"
  4. Right click on the file in the Finder and choose "Set Desktop Picture"

Did you know? 
Muskrats’ thick, waterproof fur makes gives them added buoyancy. They can remain submerged for up to 15 minutes, and their teeth are modified so that they can chew underwater. Cattails are their preferred food item.

Muskrats mate following spring break-up, and litters of 5-10 young are born one month later. The same female normally has another litter a month after the first, and sometimes yet another one month later.

The young develop rapidly and are capable swimmers and divers by the time they are three weeks old. By four weeks, they are independent of their parents.

(via Hinterland Who’s Who)

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

EcoSask News, May 7, 2013


Capturing Nature in the City, May 21
Branimir Gjetvaj, biologist and environmental photographer, will present his vision of a “Wild Saskatoon” through photos and stories at 7 pm on May 21 at the Frances Morrison Library. He’ll discuss the importance of reconnecting city dwellers to their natural environment and the complex interactions between humans and other species that co-exist in the urban environment.

CISV Back to Basics Mini Camp, May 24-26
CISV Saskatoon is hosting a Back to Basics Mini Camp for ages 8+ at Shekinah Retreat Centre from May 24-26. The focus will be on Thinking, Choosing, and Doing in order to live the green life.

NatureCity Festival, May 25-31
The NatureCity Festival, May 25-31, is absolutely jam-packed with fun activities. It’s impossible to list them all, so do check their calendar of events. Here are some highlights:
May 25 – Self-Guided Urban Agriculture Tour
May 26 – Eat These Words Community Supper sponsored by CHEP and Slow Food Saskatoon
May 27 – Tour of Donna Birkmaier Park, one of Saskatoon’s naturalized parks
May 27 – Douglas Olson speaks on conserving wildness in an urban environment
May 28 – Pond dipping and a nature hike at the Chappell Marsh Conservation Area
May 29 – Presentation on Wolves

Making Compost
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council is hosting two workshops on making compost. A Learn the Basics of Composting workshop will be held from 7:30-9 pm on May 29 in the Downstairs in the Den, The Two Twenty.

More experienced composters can register for the Master Composter Weekend Training Class on June 1 and 2. For more information, contact Naomi at, 306.242.8569.


Backyard Garden Sharing Program
Jared Regier, who also works with the Earthkeepers program at Aden Bowman Collegiate, has been hired by CHEP as their Backyard Garden Coordinator. If you have backyard space someone could garden in or if you are an experienced gardener looking for space to grow food, contact Jared (, 655.4575, ext 229).

Bold Energy Ideas 
Grazed rangelands have the ability to capture and store more carbon than expensive carbon capture and storage technologies.

A Saskatoon company is exploring the economic and technical viability of geothermal electricity generation in southeastern Saskatchewan.

Implement a carbon tax, phase out government subsidies for all forms of energy production, and let the market separate the winners from the losers.

Attach a portable solar socket to a window and store up to 10 hours of energy usage.

EU Imposes Temporary Ban of Bee-Killing Pesticides
The European Union has imposed a temporary ban on three pesticides believed to harm bees. It's only a partial victory; there's more work to be done.

High-Tech Garbage Cans
This solar-powered trash can not only compacts the garbage, it emails the garbage collectors when it’s full! The initial cost is high, but it will save substantial amounts of money in the long run.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Heading out on the Water: Saskatoon Canoe/Kayak Training and Tours

There are lots of opportunities to get out on the water this summer with training and tours for canoe or kayak. Let us know if we missed an organization or activity, and we’ll add it to the list.

CanoeSki Discovery Company
CanoeSki Discovery Company specializes in wilderness canoeing and cross-country skiing. They offer a 12-hour Learn to Canoe course as well as Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Paddling workshops.

A weekend Whitewater Primer in August helps participants make the transition from lake to river paddling. CanoeSki also offers Wilderness Navigation and Orienteering courses and private canoe lessons for individuals and groups.

CanoeSki offers a wide variety of different canoe trips from a fly-in rock art archaeology camp, to a women-only trip on the Churchill River, and short overnight or day trips near Saskatoon.

Clearwater Canoeing
Clearwater Canoeing has made their canoes available for rent at Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve. Visit the Research Centre to make arrangements. The Centre is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm from June 1 to September 5.

Clearwater offers various tours, including an overnight tour to Fort Carlton, The Hobbit tour on the McLennan Lakes chain, and a Women’s Reconnect with Nature Retreat.

Coldspring Paddling
Coldspring Paddling offers short introductory paddling courses as well as Paddle Canada Certified Kayak Courses, Intermediate Kayak Clinics, and Level 1 Sea Kayak Skills.

Maskwa Paddle Co.
Mark Lafontaine has just opened Maskwa Paddle Co. He’s offering three Learn to Paddle workshops in June as well as 16-hour Paddle Canada certified canoe courses at the Intermediate and Advanced Tandem level in July. Private individual and group lessons are also available. Ask Mark to show you his hand-carved paddles.

Meewasin Canoe Tours 
Canoe tours in Meewasin Valley Authority’s 25-foot, voyageur clipper canoes are an opportunity for novice canoeists to learn about the river from the river. The tours run out of the Beaver Creek Conservation Area from June through August and last approximately 3 hours.

Tours must be booked in advance (call Gillian May at 306-665-6887) and work best for groups of 8 or 16 people (using one or two canoes). The cost is $200/canoe, but tours are free for non-profit groups.

The Saskatchewan Outdoor and Environmental Education Association is offering a canoe certification course from May 18 to 20 in Saskatoon. The course will include tandem and solo lake water canoe skills with an opportunity to reach Introductory and Intermediate levels.

Saskatoon Canoe Club 
The Saskatoon Canoe Club is a group of paddling enthusiasts. They offer courses and canoe trip opportunities for members. The Club has two divisions for Recreation and Marathon. They’re holding an Open House at noon on May 5 at the Victoria Park Boathouse.

Saskatoon Racing Canoe Club 
The Saskatoon Racing Canoe Club provides training in sprint canoe and kayak racing. They offer various summer classes and day camps for youth at the introductory, developmental, and high performance level, as well as a winter training program.

They also offer a two-week, evening Adult Learn-to-Kayak program, and a Masters program for people who wish to continue paddling throughout the summer.

See also:
Canoe Kayak Saskatchewan is the provincial sport governing body for canoe and kayak.

Canoe Saskatchewan provides information about routes and trip planning.

Tourism Saskatchewan will help you include canoeing and kayaking in your holiday plans.