Tuesday 30 June 2015

EcoSask News, June 30, 2015


Sheep at the Creek, July 4 & 5 
Visit Beaver Creek on July 4 and 5 for a sheep herding display and to learn about Meewasin’s sheep grazing program.

Planning Ahead
Here are a couple of events to keep in mind as you plan your summer.

Pasture Ride, Aug. 15 & 16
Walk, ride a horse, or bike through the Caledonia-Elmsthorpe Community Pasture on August 15 and/or 16 with the Saskatchewan Trails Association. Registration is required; register early for the horse corrals.

SaskOutdoors Nature Retreat, Oct. 2-4
SaskOutdoors is planning a weekend nature retreat at Ness Creek, Oct. 2-4. Along with lots of free time, there will be opportunities for a guided walk, nature art-making, campfire chats, and music.

Field Trips
Saskatoon Young Naturalists
Aug. 14, 2-4 pm - Grasslands Hike Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

Other Nature Society Field Trips
July 8, 7-9 pm – SWF Pfeiffer Protected Area
July 11, 8:45 am - ? – North American Butterfly Count
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details (e.g. some trips require rubber boots, others will be cancelled if the weather is bad).

Photo credit: Michael Molaro

Even the Roof is Green
The Garden Patch, Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, with help from Michael Molaro, Higher Groundworks HortiCulture, has installed a green roof on a shipping container. They now have solar panels, rainwater catchment, and a garden – all on their roofs.

No More Bottled Water
Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools is eliminating commercially bottled water from its cafeterias and vending machines.

EcoFriendly Action Grants – June 2015 (2 grants - $700)
St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Catholic Eparchial Camp - $500 to support nature programs at camp (bat houses, light pollution and star gazing, composting, trip to Pike Lake)

PCAP – SK - $200 for prizes for the Native Prairie Appreciation Week youth poster contest

Renewable energy has just had its best year ever. Globally, 23 countries are producing over 10% of their total energy from renewables.

Tesla’s commercial batteries have changed the future … for winemakers!

The less food in your yard - from scattered bird seed, to uncovered compost piles, to greasy barbecue grills - the less likely it is that wildlife will become habituated to humans and turn into problem individuals.

You’re probably recycling the wrong way - here’s how to do it smarter.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

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

Sunday 28 June 2015

Saskatoon's First Residential Green Roof

Congratulations to Julie and Josh who have installed Saskatoon’s first residential green roof with help from Michael Molaro, Higher Groundwork HortiCulture (green roof consultant).

Julie’s blog, juba life, has photos and explanations showing how they prepared the roof and laid out the plants. It’s a great resource if you are thinking about adding a green roof to your home.

Michael Molaro selected the plants based on his experience in installing the green roof at the U of S College of Law. Over 700 individual sedums, June grasses, pasture sage, and allium were planted on the garage roof, with taller plants at the far end so that every variety can be seen from the house.

Green roofs capture and control storm water runoff, reduce urban heat, and add to a city's biodiversity. Toronto is the first city in North America to have a bylaw requiring and governing the construction of green roofs on new development. France has recently decreed that new roofs must have either solar panels or plants.

For more information about green roofs, take a look at our 2014 interview with Michael Molaro.

Addendum: Michael Molaro has pointed out that there are a few small residential green roofs already in place in Saskatoon, but this roof is the first one of a significant size.

Photo credit: Julie, juba life

Tuesday 23 June 2015

EcoSask News, June 23, 2015


Jeff Rubin, June 23
Jeff Rubin will present his book, The Carbon Bubble: What Happens to Us When It Bursts at 7 pm, June 23, at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Landscape, Identity & Environment, June 24
Void Gallery and Finding City Community Arts Inc. are hosting a program with visiting artists. The first in the Conversation Series on June 24, from 7-9 pm, will explore landscape, identity, environmental activism, and climate change. The event will be held at The Stand Community Organizing Centre, 615 Main Street.

Sustainable Lifestyles Meetup Group, June 29
A Saskatoon & Area Sustainable Lifestyles Meetup Group has been formed to share information, ideas, and friendship in order to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle. Their first get-together is on June 29.

We > Greater than Tar Sands, July 4
We > Greater than Tar Sands is a national protest against pipelines and tar sands expansion. In Saskatoon, meet at City Hall on July 4 at 11:30 am. In Prince Albert, meet at Scarrow Park at 1:30 pm.

Wapiti Bush Run, Aug. 30
The Melfort Cross Country Ski Club, in conjunction with the Tisdale Running Club, is hosting the Wapiti Bush Run on August 30. Their goal is to draw attention to the trails in Fort a la Corne Provincial Forest, which the ski club is repairing after they were badly damaged by quads.

Canoe Certification Course, Sept. 12-13 (Regina)
SaskOutdoors is offering a Paddle Canada Lake Canoe Skills (flat water) certification course near Regina, Sept. 12-13.

Great Sand Hills Instructional Photography Tour, Oct. 23-25
Branimir Gjetvaj is offering an instructional photography tour of the Great Sand Hills from October 23-25.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar.

SK Oil Sands
The Saskatchewan government still plans to mine its oil sands. Paul Chatsko, University of Calgary energy historian, says, “Make sure you have adequate thought on transportation, infrastructure and impact on the workforce, land, air, and water . . . . Be sure that you have thought out the implications of your decision. Having the technology and skills to do something, is a completely different question than whether or not something should be done." 

Energy Storage in Ontario
In Canada, Ontario is leading the way in setting up energy storage systems.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

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

Thursday 18 June 2015

Store Your Energy in a Battery

Solar Reserve
Solar Reserve (integrated storage), California

Wind and solar energy generation has surged over the past few years. Although renewables still lag far behind fossil fuels in total generation, the balance is shifting in their favour. In 2014, solar generation in the US almost doubled, while wind generation outgrew all other sources.

Increased use of solar and wind energy has been handicapped by one major roadblock. On a sunny, windy day, you can generate lots of renewable energy, perhaps more than you need, but there’s been no easy way to store excess energy. That problem may be a thing of the past as businesses, such as Tesla, generate new and better energy storage batteries.

Tesla Powerwall
The launch of Tesla Energy’s Powerwall earlier this year generated a huge amount of interest. They were sold out to mid-2016 within a week in the United States. (The batteries should be available in Canada at the beginning of 2016.)

The Powerwall, available in both residential and commercial sizes, can store energy from your solar panels, store energy during off-peak periods when it’s sometimes cheaper, and act as a backup power source if there’s a power outage.

Tesla plans to build the batteries in a fully solar-powered plant and to source raw materials from North America, which should reduce energy consumption during production and increase transparency.

Residential Energy Storage
Tesla’s storage units are designed to even out supply and demand, providing independence from the grid and the dirty energy sources that power the grid. The batteries could also be helpful in areas that experience frequent power outages or areas that offer reduced energy rates in off-peak periods.

Brent Veitch of Rock Paper Sun hopes that the batteries will make households more aware of how much energy they consume. If you’re limited to 10 kWh of energy storage, you may decide that you don’t need a beer fridge in the garage and can hang your laundry outside to dry rather than draining your battery using an energy-guzzling clothes dryer.

Brent also hopes that the availability of storage batteries will encourage more people to invest in solar panels.

Solar panels and storage batteries are still expensive, so you may never see a financial return on your investment. If you have a net metering arrangement with the local energy provider and can sell your surplus energy back to the grid, storage batteries become even less financially viable.

From a financial point of view, energy conservation measures (installing LED lights, insulating your home, buying energy-efficient appliances) may be more cost effective than purchasing a storage battery.

Brent wonders if an international company such as Tesla will have a negative impact on the local economy (similar to shopping at Costco rather than the local farmers’ market). On the other hand, if Tesla chooses to work with local renewable energy companies, it could have a positive impact.

Singapore's solar-powered supertrees

Industrial Energy Storage
Hawaii’s utility rates are the highest in the United States because most of their electricity is generated using imported crude oil. That situation could change as Hawaii has set a goal of generating all of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2045. They’ll be using a variety of energy storage methods, including batteries, to even out supply and demand.

California is also emphasizing energy storage: “Major utilities there are required to install 1,325 megawatts of energy storage — enough for about 1 million homes — by 2024 as one step toward fighting climate change.”

Con Edison, which supplies power to New York City, plans to use energy storage to take advantage of solar generation by individual households in residential areas. “Con Edison is working with several New York State agencies and New York City to streamline permitting of battery storage systems within the city. It also is developing its first utility-scale battery power storage system, a 1 megawatt battery storage facility in Queens,” according to Michael Leff, Con Edison’s resource planning analyst.

Impact on the Grid
For, many years, energy providers such as SaskPower have had a monopoly on the provision of energy. They have ensured equality by providing service to all parts of the province, but they have also had sole control over the sources of energy, which in Saskatchewan has been primarily coal. Alternate energy sources (residential solar panels, district energy programs) are breaking the monopoly.

Storage batteries provide individuals and communities with an additional tool to use in choosing and controlling their energy supply. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on power utilities.

Further Information:
Tesla Powerwall: What you need to know
Will Tesla’s home battery really transform our energy infrastructure?
Big Batteries, Energy Storage Key to Renewables’ Future
Distributed Generation Poses Existential Threat to Utilities

June 21, 2015 addition - Beyond the Tesla Powerwall: How Energy Storage is Shaping up in Ontario

Tuesday 16 June 2015

EcoSask News, June 16, 2015


Cypress Hills Waste Workshop, June 25
The Recycling Council of Alberta and the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council are hosting a joint regional waste reduction workshop at the Resort at Cypress Hills on June 25.

Duck Mountain Mysteries, June 27-28
The Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan will be visiting Duck Mountain’s forests, lakes, and fens on June 27 and 28. They’ll be on the lookout for rare Lady’s Slipper as well as the carnivorous Pitcher Plant.

Nature Days, McKell Wascana Conservation Park (Regina)
Ducks Unlimited Saskatchewan is hosting the following activities at the McKell Wascana Conservation Park:
June 27 - Pond Dipping
July 10 - Nature Walk
July 25 - Pond Dipping
McKell Wascana Conservation Park is a 175-acre park, dedicated to conserving and restoring native prairie and wetland habitat.

Field Trips
Young Naturalists
July 17 – Butterfly Field Trip
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

Golden Eagles
June 25, 7:30 am – Beland’s Acreage near Maymont

Other Nature Society Field Trips
June 27, 2-5 pm – Wanuskewin Botany Trip
June 28, 1:30-4:30 pm – Butterflies III
July 1, 9 am – 2 pm – Wild Orchids Field Trip
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details (e.g. some trips require rubber boots, others will be cancelled if the weather is bad).

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar.


Trees and Public Education
Meewasin Valley Authority recently received two grants. The first, $25,000 from 2015 CN EcoConnexions, was used to plant more than 2,000 trees and shrubs in Diefenbaker Park to help restore disturbed riverbank and contribute to biodiversity.

The second, $40,000 from the RBC Blue Water Project, will be used promote biodiversity and clean water. The project will combine citizen science with conservation field work to protect the quality of urban waterways, including the South Saskatchewan River and related drainage channels.

Airport Wildlife
Plastic-Chewing Coyotes: Yarmouth International Airport is working on a multi-year plan to keep wildlife and humans using the airstrip safe. They’ve discovered that aluminum tape is a cheap, effective way to stop coyotes from chewing the plastic coating on the landing lights wiring.

40 Beehives at Saskatoon Airport: “With ample access to wild flowers, water, bushes for wind protection and no on-site pesticide use, the Saskatoon airport is an ideal location for the honey-producing insect. While the traffic in and out of the area would hamper other agricultural practices such as livestock keeping, beehive harvesting offers an ideal low-impact use of the sprawling fields neighbouring the hangers.” (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

Montreal may be the only other airport in Canada with bees.

Permaculture-Based Passive Housing
Work has begun on the largest permaculture-based, passive house, urban eco-community in Europe. The community will include a farm, 68 affordable housing units, and a wildlife corridor.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

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

Tuesday 9 June 2015

EcoSask News, June 9, 2015

pelican morning preening

Shared Knowledge Community Conference, June 13 & 14 (Regina)
The Shared Knowledge Community Conference on June 13 and 14 in Regina will cover a wide variety of topics, including waste management, pesticides, beekeeping, and solar panels.

Bearwalker of the Northwoods, June 14
Watch a film and get your questions about black bears answered by Kent O’Grady, a member of the North American Bear Center, from 4-5 pm, June 14, at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Beavers at Work, June 14, 21, 28
Find out what’s keeping the beavers busy at Beaver Creek with interpretive tours at 2:30 pm, June 14, 21, and 28.

Native Prairie Appreciation Week, June 15-21
Native Prairie Appreciation Week is a celebration of our native grasslands. There will be education and awareness booths at Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on June 14, Regina Farmers’ Market on June 17, and Swift Current Market Square on June 20.

Bridge City Bicycle Co-op Tour, June 18
Join PermaSask on a tour of Bridge City Bicycle Co-op at 7 pm, June 18. Bridge City Bicycle Co-op’s mission is to share bicycle repair facilities, mechanical knowledge and a love of cycling.

Hort Week, July 4-12
Improve your gardening skills during Hort Week, sponsored by the Master Gardener Program at the U of S. Courses range from rooftop & container gardening to survival plants and composting.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar.

new leaves by the pond

In a draft report, the US Environmental Protection Agency says it finds no widespread drinking water pollution from fracking. Environmentalists question the results, saying that the EPA was unable to obtain the necessary data from the oil and gas industry.

Canadian Success Story
Shutting down coal and ramping up renewables is working in Ontario.

Urban Parks
The case for turning London, England, into a national park: 13,000 species of wildlife, 144 nature reserves, 1,300 sites valuable to wildlife, and two wetlands conserved for migrating birds. An estimated 60% of the city’s area is green space or water.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

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

Thursday 4 June 2015

Greening North Battleford

EcoFriendly Action Grants have helped support two North Battleford youth groups in greening their community.

Trees in the River Valley 
The John Paul II Key Club is a service club with 68 members at John Paul II Collegiate, North Battleford. Over the past eight years, they have planted almost 20,000 trees in and around the Battlefords and along the North Saskatchewan River Valley.

Thirty students joined advisors Dennis Mercer and Joey Sadlowski in planting another 1,800 new trees this spring. “In reality,” says Joey Sadlowski, “these students are planting trees for the next generation. That makes a impressive legacy.”

With the support of Shand Greenhouse, Sask Energy, and EcoFriendly Sask, Key Club plans to continue this project for another two years, setting a goal of 25,000 trees. “In a decade or two,” muses Sadlowski, “that should make a noticeable difference.”

Crystal’s Home G.R.U.B. Garden
Crystal’s Home provides a supervised living program for female youth ages 12-17 who are unable to remain at home due to child welfare issues. They requested a grant in order to establish the G.R.U.B. Garden with raised beds, compost bins, window boxes, and vertical garden planters.

The young people helped make and paint the boxes and are now making salad with garden-grown cilantro and selling some of their produce (rhubarb, herbs, and winter onions) via their Facebook page. The funds will help the youth to buy longboards and skateboards.

EcoFriendly Sask provides small grants of approximately $500 to support local projects that will benefit the environment. Additional information is available on the Action Grants page of our website.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

EcoSask News, June 2, 2015

Canada geese

Exploring the Boreal Forest Photography Workshop, June 5-7 
John Murray is offering a two-day photography workshop at Ness Creek, including wildlife photography, post-production computer techniques, and one-on-one sessions, from June 5-7.

Saskatoon CarShare Co-op AGM, June 6
Everyone is invited to attend the Saskatoon CarShare Co-operative’s AGM from 5-8 pm, June 6, at d’Lish by Trish (702A 14th Street East). The event is free, but you’re asked to reserve a place online.

Wolves 101, June 7 
Join a videoconference to the International Wolf Centre from 3-4 pm, June 7, at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Summer Star Parties, July/Aug
Visit one of Saskatoon’s two Dark Sky Preserves and enjoy a Star Party organized by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
July 25 – Grasslands National Park
Aug. 12-16Cypress Hills Inter-Provincial Park

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

EcoFriendly Action Grants - May 2015 (2 grants  $1,000)
Ecology Camps for Kids – $500 to support children’s ecology camps
Two Green Wheels Saskatoon – $500 to support a bicycle-powered compost pick-up service

Milkweed & Monarchs
Monarch butterflies can’t survive without milkweed. CBC Saskatchewan has compiled a list of places where you can obtain milkweed in Saskatchewan.

Blazing Star Wildlflower Seed Company is at the Street Stall Saturday Market adjacent to the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market and hopes to have Dwarf Milkweed for sale in June.


Urban Wildlife
The City of Toronto’s staff recognize that the best way to prevent urban wildlife conflicts is by controlling people’s behaviour - not wildlife. The plan includes developing a wildlife feeding bylaw, guidelines for wildlife-proofing residential and commercial developments, and identifying possible funding sources to assist the Toronto Wildlife Centre in their mitigation of conflict situations.

Home Water Conservation
Don’t wait until there’s a problem before starting to conserve water: 5 tips to get you started.

Bird Seed and Flowers
Don’t buy bird seed - grow it: ten flowering plants that look gorgeous and reward you with seeds.

Greater Sage Grouse
The US plans to limit petroleum drilling in greater sage grouse habitat. Some companies are already assisting by limiting truck traffic and sowing native plants to provide grouse with food and cover.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

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