by Mary Jane Patterson, Executive Director

ClimateActionWR is a collaborative effort led by Reep Green Solutions and Sustainable Waterloo Region.

Drumroll please: We are just past the halfway mark in our Climate Action plan for Waterloo Region, and the results are in:

  • Our emissions have gone down by 5.2% – great news! And getting closer to our target of 6% below 2010 levels by 2020, if we can keep it up.
  • Most of the heavy lifting was done by the province, by closing down the coal generating stations. So what was the impact of our local actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Without the province’s changes, our local emissions would have gone up by 4.4%. Wrong direction!
  • But taken in context, we have made progress locally. During that same time period, our economy grew by 14% and our population by 5.7 %. Our local actions meant that emissions did not grow at the same rate – we separated emissions growth from population and economic growth. This is an important step forward.

The most concerning information we see in the Progress Report is the growth in emissions from transportation. During the time period of 2010 to 2015, vehicle ownership in Waterloo Region grew at twice the rate of population growth. Transportation emissions now make up 49% of our carbon footprint, and they’re continuing to grow. That is our biggest challenge as a community going forward.

3 ways to reduce your carbon footprint

Here’s three ways each of us can do to reduce our own carbon footprint and help us reach our target as a community:

  1. Pick one thing related to our daily/weekly routine that could reduce emissions, and make it a new habit. It will cost little or nothing, and can make a big difference over time. The Progress Report has a list of actions we can all do for each focus area.
  2. Make each new purchase for your home, vehicle or workplace a transformational one. The kind of thing that means without thinking, your normal daily activities are now lower in carbon emissions. Appliances, lighting, vehicles – all of these purchases have long lasting impacts, and by choosing well at the time we buy, we can significantly reduce the emissions they create throughout their lifetime.
  3. Step out of our comfort zone and speak up on this issue. Let politicians and others know this matters to us, to support them in making decisions that look ahead for generations in our community.

In fact, there’s an opportunity to have our say and to hear what our community could look like in the future, coming up.

Community engagement kicks of June 22

Join us on June 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Our Progress, Our Path event as we kick off several months of community engagement on visioning our long-term path to reducing emissions. Join the conversation, and hear from 2 or 3 speakers about the big changes that we could adopt, or are adopting locally, and the impact they’ll have.

Let’s build on our success, together!

What excites me about the direction we’re going in with ClimateActionWR  is that as a community we’re planning for the future we want, not the future that comes when you’re not paying attention. And that’s a future for sustainable living that builds prosperity and attracts talent to our community. The warm reception for our Progress Report at all three city councils and the Region demonstrated the political awareness and support we have in Waterloo Region for a low carbon economy, and the desire to do more. Let’s build on that together.

by Ericha Moores

Here are some of the common alternatives to driving alone, and the health and environmental benefits associated with these options!

Walking and biking

There are many reasons why you should choose to walk or bike to your destination–whether that be work, school, or the grocery store.

In terms of health benefits, walking is a great form of exercise – according to David Suzuki, only 30 minutes of walking per day can reduce your risk of heart disease, as well as diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis. It also gives you much more energy and studies have shown that it has been proven to make you happier! By actively choosing to walk you are choosing a healthier lifestyle, and this encourages an improved quality of life.

Similar to walking, another great alternative (and, personally, my favourite!) is biking. Cycling to your destination would get you there faster than walking and, again, it is great for your health. Whenever I opt to bike to my destination, I always arrive feeling refreshed and in a much better mood!

If you do not have a bike, then do not fret – there is the Community Access Bikeshare program here in Kitchener! There are several stations throughout Kitchener and Waterloo, where you can pick up a bike. You can become a member for $60 and use it from April through to November.

Whether walking or biking, being outdoors is good for your mind, body, and spirit! Plus, you can feel good about contributing to a healthier planet and decreasing your carbon footprint!

Public transit

Another alternative option is Grand River Transit – the public transportation system here in the Waterloo Region. There are many benefits to choosing public transit, such as environmental, economic, and health.

By foregoing your individual car for public transit, you are automatically benefiting the environment by reducing your carbon footprint and the amount of greenhouse gases that are being released into the environment. In not taking your car you are also decreasing the amount of air pollution, creating a healthier environment for you and your community.

Choosing to take public transportation over your own vehicle is much cheaper – the price per ride in Waterloo Region is $3.25, and you can get monthly passes. Both are cheaper than gas and monthly insurance rates!

Check out more details on where it goes and the different routes.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 20, 2017

Reep Green Solutions receives three awards from Green Communities Canada

Kitchener – Mary Jane Patterson, executive director of Reep Green Solutions received the environmental lifetime achievement award on Monday from Green Communities Canada as part of its Annual General Meeting. Also recognized with awards were board chair Tania Del Matto as an outstanding board person and the innovation award went to the organization’s Home Energy and Rain Coaching services.

The following is how Green Communities Canada officially announced the recipient of the environmental lifetime achievement award.

Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award: Mary Jane Patterson, Reep Green Solutions
This award is for an individual who demonstrates through work and achievements a lifetime contribution to improving the environment.

Mary Jane is an effective environmental champion committed to creating environmental impact in Waterloo Region and beyond.

Mary Jane’s leadership in residential energy evaluations and low-income retrofits has resulted in annual reductions of over 30,000 tonnes of CO2 in the Waterloo region and she was one of the key architects of Region of Waterloo’s Climate Plan.

In 1999, Mary Jane Patterson was one of two founding staff members of the organization now called Reep Green Solutions and has served as its Executive Director since 2001. Mary Jane has led the organization in its delivery of over 15,000 residential energy evaluations and over 5,000 low-income retrofits in Waterloo Region. The result is documented annual reductions of over 30,000 tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. She was one of the key architects behind the sponsoring partnership and development of A Climate Action Plan for Waterloo Region. She has played a leading national role as Chair of the Board of Green Communities Canada.

According to Associate Director Dave Blake, Mary Jane is a model for sustainable living, “Her home is a model of what is possible for homeowners in Waterloo Region. Her rain barrel installation and her recent installation of an air source heat pump water heater are two examples of how she lives her life. She lives without owning her own car and regularly rides her bike around town, to the office and to meetings with our partner organizations. Even when we go out for a team lunch, she brings her own reusable containers in order to minimize the impact of leftovers.”

Paul Parker, co-founder of Reep Green Solutions, said, “Mary Jane is dedicated to enabling our local community and communities across the country to improve environmental performance.”

Reep Green Solutions is an environmental charity that helps people to live sustainably. Programs and services focus on residential energy efficiency, managing storm water, water conservation and waste reduction. It co-leads ClimateActionWR with Sustainable Waterloo Region. The Reep House for Sustainable Living is a model home with a variety of environmentally friendly features and often hosts workshops and presentations.

The following is how Green Communities Canada announced the other two awards

Innovation Award – Home Energy & RAIN Coaching Services
This award is for an organization that demonstrates innovation in programming, partnerships, marketing and events.

Reep Green Solution created the Home Energy Coach concept to help homeowners reduce their environmental impact and adopt sustainable practices. The coaches provide guidance, advice and support people interested in adopting more sustainable living practices. The Energy Coach works with homeowners on energy efficiency improvements. The RAIN Coach works with homeowners to find ways to beautify their landscape while managing rain on their properties.

Coaching services exemplify Reep Green Solutions core values of innovation and impact by finding ways to help people live sustainably by addressing barriers and enabling action.

Outstanding Board Person: Tania Del Matto
This award is for a board member who has demonstrated through his/her work and achievements the strongest commitment to a Green Community providing exceptional stewardship to the organization.

Tania has been a member of Reep Green Solutions’ Board of Directors for three years, and Chair of the Board for the past year. Her commitment to the health and good management of the organization and the sustainability of her community are evident in everything she does.

Tania brings a fresh perspective from her day job as the Director of St. Paul’s GreenHouse, a unique live-in campus-linked accelerator for social innovation and entrepreneurship. She helps Reep Green Solutions make connections with people and organizations that enhance its work and broaden its reach.

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by Ericha Moores

What’s great about living in Waterloo Region are all the innovative resources and options that we have in our community! It’s pretty great!

In this post, we are going to discuss carshare and carpooling options. In Waterloo Region, we have Community CarShare and the TravelWise program.

Community CarShare

The Community CarShare program was founded in Waterloo and Kitchener in 1998. Due to its success, it has expanded to include Hamilton, Elmira, Guelph, St. Catharines and London. In Waterloo Region, there are more than 1900 members and access to over 60+ vehicles. The Community CarShare’s fleet has a number of different sized vehicles and allows you to choose how many seats you need, from everyday cars, to big movers, to green cars! Additionally, you are able to select specific special features within the car, such as navigation or bluetooth.

Becoming a member of the Community CarShare program is pretty simple – you just go to their website and sign up. You can join as an individual, a household, or even a business/organization. All you have to do is choose your plan (how much you would be using the service) and pay, and that’s it! You can calculate how much it would cost for individual rides on their website, but here is a price chart outlining the different plans available:

If comparing the price point of the Community CarShare program to that of renting a car (a one-time event) or even owning a car, you can tell you would definitely be saving money with this option.

What are the benefits?

There are many benefits for using the Community CarShare program with the primary benefit being the financial savings – especially with insurance! It’s also a very convenient and efficient service that allows you different commuting choices with comfort and flexibility.

The main selling point of the Community CarShare program is that it gives you access to a car, without having to own one yourself. Having a membership is ideal for simple trips to the grocery store on those cold winter days; taking long trips around the Waterloo Region; or even longer trips outside of town!

If you want to be especially green you could even choose a hybrid or electric vehicle!

TravelWise WR

Another option outside of the Community CarShare program is TravelWise, which is a transportation management association located in the WR. It provides different services and tools to businesses and organizations in order to encourage their employees to take transit, cycle, walk, or carpool to work!

TravelWise is more targeted towards organizations, but it would be a great idea to propose! It would mean that your business or organization is staying ahead of the curve but actively providing programs that are benefiting the community.

What are the benefits?

Similarly, the TravelWise program has many benefits, many of which parallel the benefits of the Community CarShare program.

As TravelWise encourages all forms of alternate transportation, and we’ve already discussed the benefits of public transportation, cycling, and walking, we’re just going to focus on the carpooling element of TravelWise.

Ultimately, carpooling benefits:

Your wallet!

You can save money because you are going to be sharing the costs of driving with other riders, for example, dividing the cost of gas. The more passengers you have, the more money you can save.

Your environment!

It helps the environment because for every passenger you have in your carpool you are taking a car off of the streets, thus reducing the amount of pollution, as well as your own personal carbon footprint.

Your time!

When you carpool you’re allowed to use the carpool lanes which means avoiding the traffic in highly-congested areas. This saves you time and allows you to arrive at your destination earlier.

Your health!

Carpooling is less stressful than driving alone. If you’re the passenger you can read, listen to podcasts or music, or just relax!

Your community!

Carpooling also represents a great opportunity to meet other people that you may not have otherwise met.

by Ericha Moores

What exactly constitutes an alternative mode of transportation? Anything that isn’t driving alone!

Some of the typical examples of alternative transportation include: walking, biking, taking public transit and carpooling.

Green House Gases

Let’s start with a briefly explanation of the importance of why need to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gases are produced during the burning of fossil fuels, which includes coal, oil, and natural gas. As more greenhouse gases are produced, they prevent heat energy from the sun from leaving the atmosphere. This results in an overall warming effect that we know as climate change.

This is an issue that will affect us all. Canada, and Waterloo Region, have made commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and so it is important as a community to come together and try to achieve them!

Transportation in the world and Canada

Transportation is one of the main contributors to growing greenhouse gas emissions around the world – it accounts for almost 23% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions. In Waterloo Region it accounted for 40% of total carbon dioxide emissions in 2010. That’s a pretty high number, but one that if we work together collectively we can reduce!

In switching your mode of transportation from a personal car to any of the aforementioned options, you are actively decreasing your carbon footprint and contributing less to overall greenhouse gas emissions. While this may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t and it should not be undermined!

This is the first post in a short series that is going to have a number of different alternatives to driving your own gas powered car alone. Keep following along to learn more about simple changes in your lifestyle that can have a big impact for the Waterloo Region, as well as, Canada!

Learn more about the types of green transportation and the benefits of choosing them.

Please share more environmental benefits of green transportation choices in the comments below.

photo credit: Beegee49 Cycling via photopin (license)

Building a rain garden from start to finish

Kitchener – On Saturday, May 20, a group of family, neighbours and volunteers will build a rain garden from start to finish at 200 Waterloo Street in Kitchener’s Mount Hope neighbourhood. The first shovel will go into the ground at 10:30 a.m. following a presentation on how to build rain gardens at 10 a.m. by Reep Green Solutions RAIN Coach Becca Robinson. Digging out the basin and mixing the soil is expected to take until early afternoon when it will be filled with amended soil design to soak up stormwater and planted with native plants.

The garden is how Steven and Jessica Reesor-Rempel chose to use their Front Yard Makeover prize they won last year as part of the RAIN Smart Neighbourhood project. It is an example of how their neighbours can also make their homes rain smart. Financial incentives are available this year to residents of Kitchener’s Mount Hope and Lakeside neighbourhoods to take on a variety of similar projects.

“We hope that this rain garden and two other demonstration projects help inspire homeowners in these neighbourhoods to manage rain and other precipitation where it falls,” said Patrick Gilbride, RAIN Program Manager. “We are working with neighbourhoods because when people help to manage rain at their home it can provide a benefit in their neighbourhood. Especially given the increasingly unpredictably of storms we are having it can often lead to soggy backyards and wet basements. If everyone better manages rain on their property, everyone nearby stands to benefit. These yard improvement projects also help to beautify and enhance the quality of life for neighbourhood residents.”

While presentations are also scheduled for May 28 and June 3 at the other two demonstration projects, Saturday features the only work party scheduled.

Funded by the Ontario Trillium Fund, Reep Green Solutions leads the RAIN Smart Neighbourhood project in partnership with the City of Kitchener and Partners for Action.

REEP Green Solutions is an environmental charity that helps people to live sustainably. Programs and services focus on residential energy efficiency, managing storm water management, water conservation and waste reduction. It co-leads ClimateActionWR with Sustainable Waterloo Region. The Reep House for Sustainable Living is a model home with a variety of environmentally friendly features and often hosts workshops and presentations.

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Chapter 5: Alexis and the RAIN Smart Home

This post is the fifth in a series about how Alexis is working towards a RAIN Smart Home.

by Daniel Jordan, RAIN Program Volunteer

Winning a $10,000 dollar grand prize is exciting enough, but knowing that the prize is going to have an impact on the future of your family, your community, and the environment makes it even more enjoyable. Alexis Motuz has been feeling that joy ever since she won the Rain Smart Front Yard Makeover contest grand prize last year.

Since winning the prize, she has met with our RAIN Coach, brainstormed landscape ideas and determined a RAIN smart design for her home.

Now it is time to get some help actually doing the work. Let’s look at what Alexis learned as she began the next step of the project – finding a contractor.

Alexis on finding a contractor

When I began the process of making my property RAIN Smart, I wasn’t sure exactly how it was going to go. When I learned that I needed to find my own contractors to do the work, I found it a little bit intimidating. Reep suggested that I find three different contractors to give quotes on the work. That process would help me decide how much of the planned work I could hire others to do and how much I would need to do myself.

I began my search for a contractor by checking out the list of contractors on the REEP Green Solutions website. I knew someone in the neighbourhood who happened to be on the list, so I began by contacting him. Once we looked at the project, he recommended another company that could handle large jobs (and have the machinery required) for a job like the one I would be undertaking.

What I found most challenging was carving out the time to meet with contractors, do the site visit, discuss options, figure out the costs and work within the budget.  There was a fair bit of back and forth as landscaping materials and labour add up quickly. To offset some of the costs, I will have the contractor lay out the yard, install edging, dig and install the storm crates, but leave laying some of the landscaping fabric and mulch to me.

Having found a contractor to do the work, I was excited for the work to start.

Choosing a contractor

The RAIN Smart techniques you plan to implement at your home will determine if you need to hire a contractor. For example, installing a rain barrel may be something that you are able to do yourself, whereas creating an inground cistern will likely require you to hire a professional.

Choosing a contractor is an important step in the process. Your contractor becomes your partner in the project. Finding a good contractor can make your RAIN Smart project that much more enjoyable.

While there are no exact rules for choosing a contractor, here are some basic principles which can help you.

Ask for recommendations

One of the best ways to find a reliable contractor is by speaking with someone who has had a similar project completed on their property. If they are willing to recommend  the contractor they used that is usually a good sign. Asking your designer for suggestions may be one place to start.

Get estimates from at least three different contractors

Getting three different estimates will allow you to get an idea of the general price range of the project. It will also give you a better  opportunity to find a contractor who is a good fit for you and your project.

Make sure they have up-to-date insurance

In Ontario, contractors should have WSIB coverage, liability insurance and personal injury insurance. They may also need to have a fall protection awareness course and WHMIS.

Don’t always take the lowest estimate

You want to find a contractor that you are going to be able to work with well. This isn’t necessarily the one with the lowest estimate. In fact, if one contractor’s estimate is well below all the others, perhaps this is a warning sign. Do they fully understand the project? Are they going to cut corners? Instead, look for someone who has the experience and resources to do the job, who has a good business reputation, and who shows signs of good communication.

Get everything put down in writing

When it comes to hiring a contractor, don’t let a handshake suffice. A project can change over time and unless every step of the project is in writing, the cost of the project can quickly increase. Having things in writing is another way to have clear communication with your contractor throughout the project.

You may also be interested in the advice of our home energy coach on how to choose and work with contractors.

Alexis and the RAIN Smart House: Chapter 4

This post is the fourth in a series about how Alexis is working towards a RAIN Smart Home.

by Daniel Jordan, RAIN Program Volunteer

As the winner of the RAIN Smart Front Yard Makeover contest Alexis Motuz receives $10,000 to spend on a Front Yard Makeover that will both enhance her property and reduce the amount of stormwater running off her property and directly into the storm sewer.

The prize included a consultation by our RAIN Coach to assess her home and provide some ideas of how best to manage water on her property. The Coach then turned those ideas into an appealing design for Alexis’ outdoor space.

Rebecca Robinson – RAIN Coach

Alexis and her family already use their yard heavily and she had some great ideas for how it could be improved. Having two young kids, she wanted to maintain some open space for play. She also wanted to have raised beds for growing vegetables.

Alexis and I sat down and in a very short time, we were able to take these priorities and build them into something that will increase the environmental sustainability of the space and enhance its functionality for her and her family.

Alexis

landscape design featuresWorking with a designer was a lot of fun. I had already sketched out some ideas, but the designer was able to take those ideas and really make the most of the space that I have. I wanted to keep an open space for my kids to play, but I also wanted to keep the vegetable garden and direct water into it.

Rebecca helped me come up with a design for the yard that maximizes play space while allowing me to keep my vegetable garden and reduce the amount of time I spend watering.

I really look forward to seeing how my family uses the space differently when it is finished, and I am excited that the design is both environmentally sustainable and has elements that can leverage the skills of artists and businesses in the neighbourhood.

In the end, Rebecca and I decided on a kid-friendly strawberry patch and allium garden at the front of the yard—something Dr. Seuss-ish. This will be planted overtop of storm water crates (B) that will redirect a significant amount of water from the roof that is currently running onto the driveway and street into the storm sewer.

In the back of the yard, we decided to use a cistern to collect water from the roof (D). We will then hook it up to weeping hoses and use this for irrigating the vegetable garden boxes. Although it may seem like a small gain to some, I am so excited not to have to water every evening and to move away from using municipal water.

We also decided to move the apple tree into the side yard because it is not flourishing out front, and we are going to install a second large rain barrel on the other side of the house (C) so that I can collect water to use for the front garden and raspberry boxes.

There were some design challenges that required me to keep an open mind. When the design first suggested moving the garden boxes in front of the deck so that we could do the passive irrigation (4), I thought this would look strange. I took some time to think about it more, though, and as I walked my yard, the idea grew on me. It is a something I would never have thought of myself, but I’m excited to see how it turns out.

Before meeting with Rebecca, I had thought about redoing the driveway in permeable pavers. While these are very effective at soaking up rainwater and they look fantastic, they are pricey and I wouldn’t have been able to develop my yard into the garden/play space that will be of much more benefit in the long term.

Finally, I had originally thought a rain garden might work on my property but between keeping an open play space, moving the apple tree, and the proximity to my foundations, it seemed the stormwater crates would be a better solution. So there was a lot to learn through this process and I had to keep an open mind. It’s been a wonderfully collaborative process with lots of back and forth, and I am happy to be adopting new design ideas and rain management systems in my yard.

RAIN Smart design solutions used

Here’s a closer look at some of the features included in this RAIN Smart Home.

design diagram of RAIN smart featuresA – Replace rain barrel

B – Infiltration gallery/basin

Alexis is also going to use an underground infiltration gallery to allow more water to soak down into the soil. Traditionally, infiltration galleries are made by digging a hole and filling it with rock or sand. Or as used at Alexis’ home, specially designed crates are placed into a hole and covered. It is recommended that infiltration galleries be professionally installed.

C – Added rain barrel

D – Cistern

Alexis has decided to use a cistern to capture the rain from her roof and use it as a resource for her vegetable garden. A cistern is essentially a larger version of a rain barrel. It is usually made of a heavy-duty plastic or concrete. Cisterns are sometimes buried underground, but in Alexis case, the cistern is kept above ground and raised slightly, which allows her to use gravity to passively water the plants in her garden. Cisterns can vary widely in size from between approximately 350-5200 litres of water.

Native plants

Although Alexis had hoped to plant a rain garden, she ultimately went with the infiltration gallery to maximize usable play space for her kids.  As an alternative, she intends to use native plants above the infiltration gallery and in the garden beds surrounding her yard. Native plants are being used because they are well suited to the local soil and sunlight conditions.

To learn about other RAIN Smart techniques, you are invited to visit the Reep  House for Sustainable Living at 20 Mill Street, Kitchener to see these techniques in action. We also invite you to sign up for our newsletter and learn more at one of our upcoming events.

 

 

Chapter 3: Alexis and the RAIN Smart House

This post is the third in a series about how Alexis is working towards a RAIN Smart Home.

by Daniel Jordan, RAIN Program Volunteer

With $10,000 at her disposal, Alexis Motuz is going to transform her property into a showcase of the latest and greatest in stormwater management best practices thanks to winning our RAIN Smart Front Yard Makeover contest in Mount Hope.

In this chapter, we look at how Alexis got her project underway with a RAIN Coach Consultation.

The RAIN Coach Consultation

After the excitement of winning the grand prize had passed, Alexis’ first step was to meet with the RAIN Coach. This consultation would give her guidelines that would help with deciding what direction to go with the project.

Here is a look at the consultation from the perspective of the coach and homeowner.

Name: Rebecca Robinson

Occupation: RAIN Coach

“On a bright October afternoon, I had the opportunity to visit Alexis’ property. It is always interesting visiting different properties because each has its own issues and opportunities. In the case of Alexis’ property, one of the things she was facing was that the runoff from her roof, although directed into a rain barrel, was not easily accessible for other uses. It was good to see that the landscaping around the house was effective at keeping water away from the basement. That would be one less thing for her to worry about.

After looking around and taking some measurements I was able to suggest a few courses of action that Alexis could take. Although she was interested in a rain garden as one way to use rainwater, she also wanted to plant an apple tree in the same area. Because there is a recommended minimum distance between these two, we opted for a solution to divert the water underground into an infiltration gallery that allows water to collect and slowly go into the ground. The rest of the water would be stored in a large cistern on her side yard deck. I proposed a design to move her garden boxes in front of the deck so that she could use the water from the cistern for passive irrigation for her raised beds.”

Alexis:

“The RAIN Coach consultation helped me to see that water management didn’t just have to be about how to prevent runoff from reaching the stormwater drains, but that it could also be about how to take that water and use it more efficiently as a resource. Because of the position of my drain spouts, my rain barrel is on the opposite side of the house from my garden. Rebecca helped me to see that there were things I could do to take advantage of that water and use it to my family’s benefit.  In the past, I spent a lot of time filling my watering can and watering by hand to empty my rain barrel; this year I am planning to raise the barrel and use passive irrigation for my front garden. This is what Rebecca suggested for my side garden boxes and I love the idea. In the past, I spent a lot of time (and municipal water!) watering my garden. I see this passive irrigation as a huge time and resource saver, and I’m excited to see how the veggies benefit from it.”

The benefits of a consultation

The RAIN Coach consultation offers an opportunity to consult with an expert on how to improve your outdoor space. The goal of the visit is to help the homeowner realize their goals for their outdoor space in a RAIN Smart way. This means taking into consideration three different things

The home

Homeowners dread a leaky or damp basement. It can be the cause of mold, rot, and other damage. Before implementing any landscaping solutions, you want to ensure that you are not causing problems for your home. The RAIN Coach can give you suggestions on how to avoid water from flowing towards your foundation.

Neighbours

Passing your water problem onto your neighbours property is not a solution or a way to make friends. The RAIN Coach helps you to see how your landscaping decisions can impact your neighbour. At the same time, steps that you take to slow the water down, let it soak into the ground, and keep it clean, can have a positive impact on your neighbour’s property. This is something you can do to be a good neighbour.

The environment

The impact on the environment when everyone does their part can be significant. The RAIN Coach can help you to help the environment. She will show you how you can make a difference that matters.

If you live in our RAIN Smart neighbourhoods of Lakeside or Mount Hope, contact us to arrange your own RAIN Coach Consultation.

 

by Daniel Jordan, RAIN Program Volunteer

This post is the second in a series about how Alexis is working towards a RAIN Smart Home.

Alexis and the RAIN Smart Home: Chapter 2

In chapter one, we met Alexis who is going to go through a five step process to reach her goal of having a RAIN Smart Home. These are the same steps that each of us can go through to make positive changes in stormwater management.

5 steps to a RAIN Smart Home

Step 1 – Thinking of Water

Some collaboration is needed to implement stormwater management best practices. That is where REEP Green Solutions can help.

There are small things you can do, like installing rain barrels, and larger projects, such as building rain gardens. REEP can provide RAIN Coach visits for a nominal fee. These visits can give you the extra information you might need to put your plans into action.

Step 2 – Coming up with a vision

Once you have a better understanding of how water flows on your property, you will want to think about your priorities for your outdoor space. Working with a landscaper or designer can be beneficial or, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, get out that sketch book and begin to plan. This is where you can be creative. Build your space to enhance your family’s enjoyment.

Step 3- Taking Action

Some things you might be able to implement yourself, such as installing a rain barrel. Depending on your comfort level, you may want to try building a rain garden. Know your limits and when it is best to bring in a professional.

Finding a contractor who can help you with the work doesn’t need to be daunting. We have a list of a number of businesses that provide storm water management services. This is probably a good place to start. Be sure to get at least three quotes for bigger projects. This will help you find the contractor that works for you.

Step 4 – Involving the Neighbours

Organizing a work party can help bring a neighbourhood closer together. Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbours, even the ones you might not know well, for help. Most people are more than happy to lend a hand, especially if there are snacks and refreshments involved. This will give your neighbours the opportunity to learn about being rain smart too, and who knows, maybe it won’t be long before you are helping at their work party.

Step 5  – REEPing the Rewards

Now that your project is finished, you get to sit back and enjoy it. You will be looking forward to the next time it rains, just so that you can see the fruits of your labour. You will be happy knowing that you did your part for the environment, that you have improved the value of your property and maybe even that you made some new friends in the neighbourhood. Oh, and each time that your water bill comes in the mail and you see that stormwater credit (don’t forget to apply for the rebate) you will be sure to smile. Here’s where to get started in Kitchener or Waterloo.

These are the steps that Alexis will be taking over the next few weeks. We encourage you to come along! Follow her through this journey, as she works towards a RAIN Smart Home.


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