Tuesday 27 December 2016

Post-Boxing Day Specials

Ginkgo fall colors

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” (Iris Murdoch) 

We’re mixing things up a bit for the holidays. Here are 6 items (and a bonus) to stir your imagination.

Ginkgo: The Tree that Time Forgot
“Common on city streets from Beijing to London and Tokyo to New York, ginkgo is an increasingly common backdrop to the bustle of modern city life. It is hard to imagine that these trees, now towering above cars and commuters, grew up with the dinosaurs and have come down to us almost unchanged for 200 million years….This book, an abridged global biography, sets out to tell ginkgo’s evolutionary and cultural life history.”

Ginkgo by Peter Crane is available on Kindle.

Your Own Plastic Workshop
Dave Hakken has a plan that will allow people anywhere in the world to transform plastic waste into valuable things. Precious Plastic is offering open-source blueprints so you can build your own plastic recycling machine. The machine chews it up, spits out plastic filaments that you can then turn into hats, lamps, dishes, toys, and more.

The Naturalist Lens
Naturalist and photographer Evan Barrientos shares his passion for nature on his blog, The Naturalist Lens.

“Every once in a while when I am out in nature, I come across something incredible. Sometimes it’s a rare glimpse of amazing animal behavior or a closeup look at a bizarre species. Whenever I have these experiences, my first reaction is to share them with other people. Why? Because it’s too easy to under-appreciate nature, even for us outdoor enthusiasts. How often on your hike do you stop and sit for twenty minutes, noticing the endlessly amazing insects around you? But if you don’t realize what extraordinary things are out there, you’re less likely to take the time looking closely for them. The purpose of this blog is to share my favorite natural experiences with other people in the hopes of inspiring them to appreciate that natural world and explore it slowly and carefully themselves. Currently, this blog focuses on nature in and around Bozeman, Montana.” 

Endangered Animals and Extraordinary Images
If you’re looking for something different to watch, check out these two features on Netlix:

Last Chance to See: “Nearly 20 years after he and famed author Douglas Adams searched for the world’s most endangered species, zoologist Mark Carwardine teams up with funnyman Stephen Fry to revisit those same animals.”

Tales by Light “follows renowned photographers as they explore far-flung locales, capturing extraordinary images that present nature and culture in a new light.”

If you read French, you'll enjoy Socialter magazine, “un magazine 100 % dédié à l'économie nouvelle génération et aux créateurs de solutions innovantes. Ce media est le porte-voix d'une nouvelle génération tournée vers la création de solutions efficaces et innovantes pour le plus grand nombre.”

Recent issues have covered combatting planned obsolescence, permaculture, cities without cars, the sharing economy, and energy co-ops.

Socialter is on Facebook with links to a wide variety of articles.

Elva’s Field Notes
Elva Paulson describes her online musings as “an artist watching nature and nature watching an artist.” You're sure to enjoy Elva's Field Notes; her pen-and-ink sketches are a delight.

Wildlife Photography Award Winners
And a bonus item: This year’s award-winning international wildlife photographs.

Tuesday 20 December 2016

EcoSask News, December 20, 2016

snowy sunrise

Upcoming Events
Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Jan. 7, 9 am-10:30 am – Sanatorium Site Bird Walk
Jan. 14, 9 am-4 pm – Snowy Owl Count
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

Wascana Junior Naturalists (Regina)
The Spring session of the Wascana Junior Naturalist Program is open to children ages 9-13.

Project Wet, Mar. 4 (Regina)
Help kids appreciate water by taking the Project Wet instructional course being offered by SaskOutdoors on Mar. 4 in Regina.

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

Exploring the Urban Landscape (Saskatoon)
Jane’s Walk Saskatoon is looking for volunteers to help with next year’s event.

Christmas Wrapping Paper (Regina)
The City of Regina won’t recycle Christmas wrapping paper this year, but Crown Shred & Recycling will. Material will be accepted free of charge as long as it’s accompanied by a donation for the Regina Food Bank.

Here are some suggestions for eco-friendly gift wrap.

snowy sunrise

Outdoor Fun
Looking for ideas for what to do during the holidays? Check out our list of Outdoor Winter Explorations in Saskatchewan.

Canadian Health Care Going Green
The Children’s Health Centre in Hamilton has achieved LEED Gold certification: 32% of construction material used recycled content, 86% of construction and demolition waste was diverted from landfill, and 45% of construction materials were sourced or manufactured within 800 km of the project, or within 2400 km if shipped by water.

North Bay Regional Health Centre has brought recycling bins to patient rooms.

The Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower has achieved significant energy savings by switching the laboratory exhaust system from constant speed to demand controlled.

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).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday 13 December 2016

EcoSask News, December 13, 2016

river ice reflections

Upcoming Events
Buffalo Pound Water: Is There Enough, Dec. 14 (Pense) 
Wascana Upper Qu’Appelle Valley Watershed Association Taking Responsibility (WUQWATR) is hosting a discussion about the demands on the Buffalo Pound Lake water supply at 7 pm, Dec. 14, in Pense.

Transboundary Grasslands Workshop, Jan. 11-13 (Swift Current)
A Transboundary Grasslands Workshop will be held from Jan. 11-13 in Swift Current and will focus on developing transboundary capacity for community-based prairie conservation.

Native Plants in a Working Landscape, Jan. 27-28 (Saskatoon) 
The Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan’s annual general meeting and conference will be held at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon on January 27-28, 2017. This year's theme is Native Plants in a Working Landscape and will feature a keynote presentation on bog and fen restoration.

Below Zero, Feb. 4 (Regina)
Join SaskOutdoors for a day of outdoor winter adventures on Feb. 4 and come away with a manual with 46 lesson plans that can be adapted to help you take kids outdoors in winter.

High Performance Buildings, Feb. 18 (Saskatoon) 
Passive House Canada is offering a one-day workshop on Building Enclosures for High Performance Buildings in Saskatoon on Feb. 18.

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


If Google Leads, Will Saskatchewan Follow?
Google's data centers are 50% more energy efficient than the industry average, and they’re set to reach 100% renewable in 2017. They are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy. When will the Government of Saskatchewan recognize that the future is renewable?

Hope for the Future
John Thackara says, “To people who fear that there no escape from an economy that devours nature in the name of endless growth, I argue that another world is not just possible – it is already happening. I know this to be true because I’ve spent 30 years traveling in search of stories about people tackling timeless needs in new ways: restoring the land, sharing water, making homes, growing food, designing clothes, journeying, and caring for each other. Some of these activities can sound unfamiliar – for example soil restorers, or river keepers, or social farmers. But the people I meet are not super-heroes. They are regular people doing inspiring work in these strange times. That said, I do emphasize the power of small actions to transform the bigger picture – especially when their efforts are connected together in networks like food commons, or social farming, or fibersheds.” 

Controlling the Avalanche of Disposable Cups
 UK coffee shops hand out 7 million paper cups/day - only 1/400 is recycled. What's the solution?

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 6 December 2016

EcoSask News, December 6, 2016


Upcoming Events
Eco-Retrofits, Dec. 7 (Saskatoon) 
Ronn LePage, Vereco Homes, will discuss the emerging market for eco-retrofits and the research Vereco is doing to solve some of retrofits’ major challenges at the Dec. 7 meeting of the Saskatchewan Energy Management Task Force.

Permaculture Sask Year-End Review & Potluck, Dec. 8 (Saskatoon) 
Permaculture Saskatchewan will hold a year-end review and potluck supper on Dec. 8.

Aerial Hunters, Dec. 11 (Saskatoon) 
Meet Talon a red-tailed hawk, and learn more about their biology and conservation with Greg Fenty at Wild Birds Unlimited, Dec. 11, from 11-noon.

Bike Regina Winter Cycling Workshop, Dec. 13 (Regina) 
Bike Regina is hosting a winter cycling workshop at 3 pm, Dec. 13.

Piping Plover Census, Dec. 14 (Avonlea)
Alan Smith will discuss the results of the International Piping Plover Census at 7 pm, Dec. 14, in Avonlea as part of the SK-PCAP Native Prairie Speaker Series.

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


In the News
Thank You, SaskWind. We’ll Miss You 
James Glennie has announced that SaskWind is folding up its operation. Thank you for contributing so much information and passion to the discussion around renewable energy options in Saskatchewan. You've moved us forward.

FCL Sustainability 
Federated Co-operatives Limited has published its 2015-16 sustainability and social responsibility report. Of particular interest is the work they’re doing on waste reduction and recycling wastewater. For more information about FCL’s sustainability initiatives, check out the article we published in the spring.

Green Buildings 
By 2030, all new homes and buildings built in Vancouver will be zero emissions. Approved in July, the Zero Emissions Building Plan includes a phased-in approach. 

Envisioning a Post-Growth Economy
Dr. Samuel Alexander, a lecturer at the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne, Australia, has prepared a paper on Policies for a Post-Growth Economy focusing on what a feasible and desirable Post-Growth Economy would look like. “Most people, including most politicians, still believe that sustained economic growth, in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is necessary for societal progress, and that such growth is consistent with environmental sustainability. . . . This paper provides a summary case for why there are, in fact, limits to growth, and outlines a range of bold policy interventions that would be required to produce a stable and flourishing post-growth economy.” 

Toronto Debunks Myth that Families Won’t Live in Condos
Toronto is currently embarking on a study, Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities, to look at how compact urban homes can better accommodate families and children from three scales: the condo unit, the overall building, and the neighborhood. Issues such as unit size and layout, building amenities, the design of the public realm and services in the surrounding neighborhood are addressed.

EcoFriendly Food Swaps 
Choosing food that is good for us as well as good for the environment can be tricky. Here are 8 food swaps as an easy way to get started.

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).

Monday 5 December 2016

Wanted: Early Morning Bird Lovers


On Friday, December 1, 2016, the Meewasin Valley Authority approved Triovest Realty Advisors’ plans for the East Tower at River Landing.

Jan Shadick, Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, says that the developers indicated that they were familiar with the City of Calgary’s Bird-Friendly Guidelines and had worked under these guidelines for 10 years in Calgary. They indicated that these ideas are under consideration for this development and noted that the “fins” on the first few floors are designed to increase the visibility of the building to birds. They were not definitive in agreeing to follow the bird-friendly guidelines when building the East Tower.

Jan spoke and acknowledged the developers’ awareness of the guidelines and asked them to commit to using them. She went on to point out that, “The Calgary guidelines are very similar to those that Toronto developed in 2007 but updated in 2014 as they were found to be insufficient. The fins on the first 4 floors are to reduce the confusion for birds due to the habitat reflection (bushes and trees are thought to be up to 4 stories high). However, you are still using reflective glass which will be deadly to high-flying birds (peregrines?) and to those migrating at night due to the amount of light spilling out into the sky.”

Meewasin Valley Authority Board asked the developer to speak more clearly to Jan’s concerns. “The developers reaffirmed their awareness of the guidelines without putting anything definite on the table,” she says. “They also commented that the film for windows to reduce reflectivity apparently causes the window’s capacity for energy efficiency to be compromised, so it is a catch-22 from what I understood – the building (if glass) can be EITHER energy efficient OR bird-friendly. But, why does it have to be glass?

Jan also identified BirdSafe as an option to more fully explore the choices and concerns. BirdSafe is part of FLAP and has trained individuals who will come out and look at a building, or site, and will be able to rate the risk to birds based on many factors (location, height, amount of glass, amount of vegetation, etc). “I encouraged them to consider bringing someone in to fully evaluate the plan and perhaps offer ideas,” Jan says.

Emergency Bird Rescue
Toronto’s Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) is a non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors and sustained by the efforts of approximately 100 dedicated volunteers.

FLAP is the first organization in the world to address the issue of birds in collisions with buildings. Since 1993, their volunteers have picked up tens of thousands of injured or dead birds from 167 species in the Toronto region. Sadly, about 60% of the birds recovered by FLAP are found dead. Over 80% of the injured birds rescued by FLAP volunteers are rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

Jan says, “It would be AMAZING to start a group of volunteers HERE in Saskatoon who would walk the streets EARLY in the AM, likely past targeted buildings, and see what we find. I will take the birds and compile the data, but I don’t know that I have the time to round up volunteers and so on. But if someone else will spearhead it, I will support them.”

If you are interested in helping to prevent unnecessary bird deaths due to building hazards in Saskatoon, please contact Jan Shadick, Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, at info@livingskywildliferehabilitation.org

Further Information
River Landing Proposal = Bird Hazard
Further Concerns about the East Tower, River Landing

Friday 2 December 2016

Further Concerns about the East Tower, River Landing, Saskatoon


Concerns continue to be raised about the proposed design of the East Tower at River Landing in Saskatoon (River Landing Proposal = Bird Hazard).

Richard Huziak, a member of the Saskatchewan Light Pollution Abatement Committee (Royal Astronomical Society) and the Northeast Swale Watchers, shared the letter he sent to the Meewasin Valley Authority. Outlined below are portions of his submission.

Bird Collisions
What measures have been taken to avoid bird collisions since there seems to be no design features that would break the solid reflective appearance of the building window facings? Collisions are a daily and nightly ongoing concern where possibly hundreds of birds may die per building per year and peak during spring and fall migration seasons.

Is there any part of the design where bird-visible window glazings are used or other anti-collision features incorporated?

With uni-body glass designs, buildings simply blend reflectively into the background sky though lack of visual relief. Being in the Central and Mississippi Flyways and being adjacent to the water, bird-friendly design must be considered.

Glare: Since the building is all glass, and from the architect’s rendition, all inside lights will shine out unabated, unless interior lighting fixtures are shielded from shining outward. Has the visual impact of the huge glass profile been considered for the effect of the view from the riverbank and residences across the river? The large area of windows had the potential of being a “glare-bomb” if all lights are on and there are no louver systems to direct the light downward instead of outward.

Crime Prevention: Although parroting a very poorly written outdoor lighting requirement of the South Downtown plan, lighting is expected to "reduce crime" and this implies that outdoor lighting could be over-bright.

Light does not prevent or reduce crime. To reduce crime the plan should include the installation of video surveillance cameras, since plaza streetlights do not testify in court. If CPTED features are to be designed in, do not rely on lighting – use line-of-site visibility and surveillance recommendations. 

Dark-Sky Compliant: Lighting should be of “regular” downtown brightness suitable for the specific purpose, and not more. Lighting fixtures should be full cut-off shielded design and directed down to the ground, including all pole, accent and decorative lighting. Up-lighting of monuments or side-facing spotlighting and wall-pack lighting should be avoided since all lighting applications can be accomplished with full-shielded, down-facing lighting if good design practices are adhered to, and this is doubly important because all of the glass facings are highly prone to adding unwanted reflections.

The design shows a shadowing plan for surrounding buildings (page 15) but does not provide a "forward reflectance" plan. This is especially important because some faces of the building are slanted downward (“canted facades”), so the concentration of sunlight on nearby paved areas and sidewalks during the hottest of summer days (and when the sun is highest in the sky) will be additive through about a 70% solar grazing reflection, raising the local sidewalk temperatures by some significant number of degrees. The reflection power will be about 800 watts/m2, so it is possible that a 10- to 15-degree rise in local temperatures in front of the building will occur.

With a paddling pool and adjacent plaza, the added window reflections might cause the possibility of uncomfortably high temperatures in the area. (In the future, this area is nestled between three glass building walls.) In addition, huge forward-facing reflections will follow the sun throughout the day.

What is the impact of these reflections on surrounding properties, such as the glass entranceway of Persephone Theatre or glass-faced Art Gallery overhang and other downtown buildings even if mullion caps are used?

Smallest of Three
Rick Huziak concludes his letter by saying, “Please note that the current application refers only to the smallest of the three building in the grouping, and both other buildings are much larger and will have much environmental impact.”

Speak Out
If you are concerned about the development plans at River Landing or in other locations around the city, speak out by contacting your City Councillor as well as the Meewasin Valley Authority Board.

Further Information
River Landing Proposal = Bird Hazard
The High Cost of Lighting up the Night

Thursday 1 December 2016

Saskatoon River Landing Proposal = Bird Hazard


Jan Shadick, Executive Director, Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, says that Saskatoon’s birds are at risk if Meewasin Valley Authority approves plans for a new development on Parcel YY, River Landing, by Triovest Realty Advisors.

 “The East Tower at River Landing is a hazard to birds due to the extent of glass planned for the exterior of the building,” says Jan. “I’ll be speaking at the MVA meeting on Friday to ask that Saskatoon join other progressive cities in leading the way toward a greener, more bird-friendly approach to building design.”

Outlined below are portions of Jan’s presentation to Meewasin Valley Authority.

Red-winged blacbird singing

Birds and Buildings in Saskatoon
Birds connect people with nature and the beauty of the natural world. They provide critical ecological functions, consuming billions of insects daily, pollinating plants, and dispersing seeds.

Birds also contribute significantly to our economy as bird-watching has become the second most popular leisure activity in North America after gardening.

And yet, Canadian research estimates that 25 million birds die each year from window collisions with mid- and high-rise buildings.

According to Triovest Realty Advisors project brochure, “Glass will be the primary cladding material used on the tower. The selected glass is not intended to have a defined colour, but instead, it will pick up natural colours and tones reflected from the sky, creating a constantly changing and vibrant façade.”

“The amount of glass in a building is the strongest predictor of how dangerous it is to birds,” says Bird Friendly Toronto, Best Practices Glass. There are solutions: window film, visual marker treatments, increased density of mullion spacing, frosted glass designs, spandrel panels, sunshades and louvres.

“Please delay approval of this project until more bird-friendly designs are included in the plans,” Jan Shadick urges.

nest building

Show Your Support
You can show your support for protecting Saskatoon’s birds by attending the public session of the Meewasin Valley Authority Board meeting at noon on Friday, Dec 2, 2016, in the Upper Lounge of the Saskatoon Club, 417- 21st Street East.

Further Information
City of Calgary, Bird-Friendly Urban Design Guidelines
City of Toronto, Bird-Friendly Development Guidelines
City of Toronto, Toronto Green Standard
City of Vancouver, Bird-Friendly Urban Design Guidelines
City of Markham, Bird-Friendly Development Guidelines
Ontario Association of Architects, Open Letter on Bird-Friendly Design
American Bird Conservancy, Bird-Friendly Building Design Guide
Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), BirdSafe