Monday, July 27, 2009

The Green Police

A short video on the 'green police' of New York. I personally think the 'green police' shouldn't be driving an SUV, but I definitely like the idea of them and think we need more.

Source: Thomson Reuters

Monday, July 20, 2009

Iceland is green

Iceland’s mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs allow the country to harness 100% of its electricity and heat from renewable sources. Iceland's fishing fleets, as well as public and private transport, are the only remaining sectors to use fossil fuels. Over the next 20-30 years, Iceland plans to use geothermal electricity to split hydrogen from water and use hydrogen fuel cells to power its vehicles and fishing trawlers. The Guardian has put together a slideshow that demonstrates Iceland's renewable energy efforts.

Recently, Iceland has attempted to make their energy sector even greener in an experiment that will see CO2 exhaust gas from one of Iceland's geothermal power stations pumped below ground into the bedrock.

Source: Reuters

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Flatpack the Opera

Flatpack is an innovative and experimental opera composed by Tom Lane and, in this production, is being staged by Mammoth Music Theatre, directed by Rebecca Lea. The Opera explores issues encountered in everyday modern life and how our consumer decisions and domestic interaction with others are indicators of more profound life choices and personalities. Practically, this focuses on a selection of scenes taken from the lives of a cast of characters, which relate to furniture, living and lifestyle. The marriage of music and drama and the important role of passion, adventure, humour and love are consistent with the traditional elements of the medium. Where it differs is in the setting, its specific content and its performance. The opera also seeks to be as inclusive of the public as possible: by performing Flatpack in a public place, during the official opening hours of IKEA in Wembley, UK, the hope is to attract audience members previously unfamiliar with opera, to catch them unawares, transforming a conventional furniture shop into an unforgettable experience.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Carbon Neutral Games

This morning's Sustainability Community Breakfast was entitled "Carbon Neutral Games VANOC and Offsetters". The breakfast featured Linda Coady, Vice President of Sustainability at VANOC and James Tansey, President and Co-founder of Offsetters as speakers as well as a presentation by Project

The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver are to be the first Games in Olympic history to have a carbon offset sponsor. The locally-based Offsetters Clean Technology is working with VANOC to neutralize the carbon footprint of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games with projects that showcase BC leadership and innovation on climate solutions.

VANOC provided an update on their sustainability planning for the Winter Games and launched the new Vancouver 2010 Sustainability Journey video:

The video aims to cross language, cultural and inter-generational barriers in describing the sustainable features of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. A summary of these features can be seen here. However, I am not entirely sure that someone without a background in sustainability would be able to fully understand what the video is trying to portray.

While I do find most offsetting companies to be suspect, I did like how Offsetters works to help individuals and companies understand, reduce, track, and offset their climate impact, rather than just offering a financial solution of being able to buy offsets and continue on with 'business as usual'.

Project Bluesky put on an entertaining presentation on how athletes are working with the Olympic Committee, Offsetters, students and other professionals to reduce emissions by encouraging people to log the kilometres they walk, cycle, or ride on public transit and challenge their friends to do the same. They also presented the widget, which allows participants to log their own modes of transportation.

However, I feel that this widget is primarily only of use to people who frequently drive. If you already take public transport regularly, the widget does not account for changes in behavior, such as changing from riding a diesel bus every day to biking or walking.

ReBurbia Design Competition

With the current housing crisis, the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, and rising energy costs, the future of suburbia looks bleak. Suburban communities in central California, Arizona and Florida are desolate and decaying, with for sale and foreclosure signs dotting many lawns. According to the US Census, about 90% of all metropolitan growth occurred in suburban communities in the last ten years. Urbanites who loathe the freeways, big box stores and bland aesthetics stereotypical of suburbia may secretly root for the end of sprawl, but demographic trends indicate that exurban growth is still on the rise.

As limited natural resources force us to find better solutions for density and efficiency, what will become of the cul-de-sacs, cookie-cutter tract houses and generic strip malls that have long upheld the diffuse infrastructure of suburbia? How can we redirect these existing spaces to promote sustainability, walkability, and community? It’s a problem that demands a visionary design solution which is why Inhabitat and Dwell Magazine have teamed up to launch the ReBurbia design contest.

Winners will have their designs showcased in Dwell Magazine, & and receive a $1000 cash prize.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pedal for the Planet

David Suzuki speaks
Coast 2 Coast: Pedal for the Planet, started in Victoria and passed through Vancouver with an event held on July 4th at the Vancouver Art Gallery. David Suzuki was on hand to comment about the Canadian government’s failure to take action on climate change and urged people to demand a commitment from the government. He also noted that those in developing countries are the least responsible for climate change yet face the greatest burden because of it.

Global T.V. was at the launch of the Vancouver leg, and you can watch the interview online at

Feel free to join C2C as they make their way to Ottawa or follow the progress on the blog:

Pedal for the Planet in a larger map

The Happy Planet Index

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is an innovative measure that shows the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is delivered around the world. It is the first ever index to combine environmental impact with well-being to measure the environmental efficiency with which country by country, people live long and happy lives. The second compilation of the global HPI, published in July 2009, shows that we are still far from achieving sustainable well-being and puts forward a vision of what we need to do to get there.

To measure the efficiency with which countries convert the earth's finite resources into their citizens' well-being, the HPI takes three separate indicators -- ecological footprint, life-satisfaction and life-expectancy -- and then carries out complex calculations. One can explore these indicators on the HPI website.

While leaders of the developed world worry away at economic indicators like Gross Domestic Product (GDP), deflation and their implications for economic recovery, the HPI lauds alternative standards that provide a new twist on the old adage that wealth does not buy happiness. However, the HPI's sums have been criticised for not taking sufficient account of issues such as political freedom, but the index has also found followers.

Within two days of the launch of the first HPI, it was downloaded and read in 185 countries worldwide.

You may also calculate your own HPI score on the HPI website. I received a score of 62.4 which is above the world average of 46, but still below the target of 83, which represents a good life that doesn’t cost the Earth.

Source: Reuters