Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award, Paul Parker | Green Communities Canada 2019
Reep Green Solutions is honoured to be Green Communities Canada’s Green Community of the Year. In this profile, we honour Paul Parker who won the Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award for his years at Reep and his efforts in the sustainability community.
As we celebrate our 20 year history here at Reep Green Solutions, we thought it would be most fitting to recognize some of the individuals who have helped bring Reep to life and have nurtured it over the years. To kick off our highlights, we are honoured to put a spotlight on Reep Green Solutions’ co-founder and longtime board member Paul Parker, who has devoted his life to Improving the environment.
First, we must talk about the passion of Paul. Anyone who has taken a class with him at the University of Waterloo (UW), or has seen Paul speak, knows that he throws his whole heart into it, with arms raised high and his voice full of excitement. The environment has no greater champion. As a professor and as a community advocate, Paul is willing to speak out, and he has the facts to put behind it. And that makes people listen and respect what he has to say.
Twenty years ago, Paul joined with 3 colleagues at UW and the Elora Environment Centre to create the Residential Energy Efficiency Project (REEP). Their goal was to match academic research with practical action in the community, and they did that, in spades. Within two years, 2,000 homes in Waterloo Region had been evaluated for energy efficiency, and an entire issue of Environments journal was devoted to articles chronicling the findings of the first 1,000 homes.
In time, the project evolved into an independent, community-based non-profit, and then an environmental charity, serving Waterloo Region and surrounding areas, with the new name Reep Green Solutions. Paul is the only founder that has followed and led Reep’s journey through all of these transitions, remaining on our volunteer board of directors, and serving as board chair for 5 of those years.
We maintain strong connections to UW’s Faculty of Environment all these years later, in large part thanks to Paul’s active participation in keeping us connected to whatever is going on. He makes seamless connections between work, home, and volunteer aspects of his own life. For a number of years now his students have had the option of volunteering with Reep Green Solutions for the academic term for credit towards their mark for the course. Each year we brace ourselves for the influx, and are grateful for the sudden surge of capacity Paul’s students bring.
Paul’s home is also rooted in sustainability, with a number of energy efficiency upgrades as he participated in Reep’s home energy evaluations. He went beyond available incentives to install solar and a ground source heat pump, and had one of the first hybrid vehicles in the area. Paul can speak from experience about the changes we can all make to our homes and transportation choices.
As we celebrate our 20th anniversary this year, we are grateful for the “oldest living Reeper” – although not the oldest we’ve ever had on the team. Paul is the link to our beginnings and one of the strongest voices leading us to a sustainable future. We are lucky to have him. Thank you, Paul, for all that you’ve done and all that you continue to do.