Learn more about Project Neutral and Reep

Project Neutral is known for its community-focused, carbon benchmarking and climate action tool. Project Neutral allows anyone to find out their carbon footprint in 5 minutes, based on real local data.

Diving into Waste 101

Date: | Thursday, December 13

Time | 5:30pm – 7:00pm

 

Note: This is an interactive event and you will need a phone/tablet/computer to participate!

Alicia Parkin, Customer Engagement and Outreach Coordinator, Reep Green Solutions

 

Alicia is passionate about teaching people how to find their carbon footprint, and what their next steps are for living a sustainable life. She is the In-Home Services & Customer Engagement Coordinator at Reep Green Solutions. One of her lead roles at Reep is to help launch the Project Neutral tool into the Waterloo Region and find like-minded community members to help connect others with this tool. Alicia has a Bachelor’s degree from Carleton University in Environmental Studies and a minor in Political Science.

 

Transportation

We encourage the use of active transportation such as walking or biking. The house is just off the Iron Horse Trail. It is also easily accessible by GRT bus routes that use Queen and have stops near Mill St. If you drive, please consider carpooling with others you know are attending.

Parking

You are welcome to use Schneider Ave or David Street parking. The Victoria Park Pavilion parking lot is also free to use and only a few minutes walk to the Reep House. Please do not park at the Schneider Haus or Mitchell St lots (click to enlarge map)

Depave Paradise (a program of Reep Green Solutions) will lead the community in transforming asphalt-covered areas of Sheppard Public School into a dynamic naturalized play space.

Kitchener, ON. On Sunday October 28, the Sheppard Public School community, with partners Reep Green Solutions and Green Communities Canada, will tear up unused pavement and create a naturalized green space for the children of Sheppard Public School. The project will capture rainwater, beautify our community, and showcase a more sustainable way to managed stormwater in urban areas through a program called Depave Paradise. This Depave project is part of an exciting new trend of neighbourhood workbees that renew underutilized, hard urban spaces.

Participants will liberate this area from asphalt and reclaim the space for nature play, creating the first ever ‘depave’ site in Waterloo region. “Hard surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots and buildings interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground, thus creating heat island effects, and warming up our cities. By removing pavement and replacing it with native plants, trees and shrubs we are increasing the infiltration rate, recharging our groundwater supply, and cooling the schoolyard,” Becca Robinson, Landscape Designer for Reep Green Solutions explains.

Based on consultation with students and staff at Sheppard Public School, including a ‘Shade Audit’ by the Waterloo Region Public Health and in-class design workshops, the new play space will include native trees and shrubs to provide shade for students and natural objects, such as stumps, logs, and a naturalized ground surface that will absorb more stormwater runoff and reduce the heat radiating off of the play surface during hot days.

Stormwater is the rain or snow that falls on cities and towns and eventually washes into our storm drains. Along the way it picks up a host of toxic chemicals, bacteria, and contaminants like oil, grease, pet waste, litter and salt. These things mix with the water that then proceeds to flow through our drains, untreated, back into rivers and lakes.

“The hands-on depaving process and subsequent tree plantings capture the hearts and energies of our school community, working together to make our school yard healthier for both the environment and students. We are excited to demonstrate to others the power to make positive change when individuals act together,” said Christy Webster, Principal of Sheppard Public School.

With additional community support and a grant provided by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, this Depave Paradise project at Sheppard Public School will encourage greener infrastructure in Waterloo Region and showcase the power of community mobilization for a greener future.

Depave Press Release PDF.

Depave Event Registration

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Reep Green Solutions is an environmental charity based in the Waterloo Region committed to helping people live sustainably. Reep offers home energy, waste reduction, water conservation and healthy yards services. You may also contact Donnique Williams, [email protected], 519-744-6583 ext. 222, for additional comments.

 

 

Sheppard Public School staff, students, and Parent Council are working together with Reep Green Solutions to DEPAVE an underutilized area of tarmac and transform it into a dynamic naturalized play space! On Sunday, October 28 at 10am volunteers from the school and surrounding community will work together to liberate the ground from tarmac and gravel subsurface and install healthier soil and mulch in its place to kick-off the tarmac makeover.

BEFORE

before depave Sheppard public school

AFTER

after depave render

Afterwards, we will be working with students and Parent Council to install:

  1. Native trees and shrubs to provide shade for students and a buffer between the tarmac and the teacher’s parking lot.
  2. Natural objects, like boulders and logs, and a mud table
  3. A naturalized ground surface that will absorb more stormwater runoff and reduce the heat radiating off of the play surface during hot days.

 

mud table

Hahn Plastics Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The plans for this area were developed after consultation with students and staff and design workshops with Grade 5 and 6 classes in the spring that illuminated some of the problems with the status quo. Our proposed solution will help absorb rain (reducing mud problems) and provide shade in an otherwise hot play area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve partnered with Waterloo Public Health to look at the need for shade in the schoolyard, and sampled temperatures on various surfaces, such as the tarmac, the “kindy area” and the “natural area”.  On a hot day, typical for the beginning and end of the school year, there was sometimes a 15C° difference between the black tarmac and a softer surface material like wood chips!  We want to create more shady and cool play surfaces for our kids as extreme temperatures and high UV warnings are becoming more prevalent.

https://twitter.com/DepaveParadise/status/1045872190418276352

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interested in being part of this makeover?

  • VOLUNTEER!
    • Register for the event to rip out tarmac and place soil
    • DONATE!
    • We are seeking in-kind donations of tarmac saw cutting, provision of a disposal bin, soil, mulch, pry bars, trees and shrubs, and food and refreshments.  Contact [email protected] if you can help.
    • Parent Council is still raising money to purchase additional challenging obstacles like a log jam climbing structure.  Contact [email protected] if you are interested in donating towards this.

Eventbrite - Depave Paradise at Sheppard Public School

 

 

UPDATE: The Region of Waterloo, and cities of Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo councils have unanimously approved an 80% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target by 2050!

If you’re interested in being involved in real change happening in our region to take action on climate change, read on. ClimateActionWR (co-led by Reep Green Solutions and Sustainable Waterloo Region) will be presenting a long-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to the councils of the three cities and the Region of Waterloo in the coming weeks. We are proposing a target of 80% below our 2010 levels of greenhouse gas emissions, to be reached by 2050. Within the next several weeks we hope that the four councils will approve the target

We encourage you to reach out to your city council and/or regional council to share your views on the long-term target. This could be in the form of a delegation (5 minute speech) or an email.

In a short email or delegation you may speak as citizens, professionals, or parents explaining why addressing climate change and investing in the green economy is a priority for you, your business or your family’s future.

The long-term target will be considered on the following dates:

• City of Waterloo – COMPLETE
• City of Cambridge – COMPLETE
• Region of Waterloo – COMPLETE

Below, I have included a list of email addresses for councilors, as well as information on how to register to give a delegation.

Points that you could address in an email or delegation speech include:

  • Strong scientific consensus confirms the global economy must eliminate carbon by the middle of the century and we need for our community to do our part in achieving that.
  • The necessity of being leaders on climate change to support the development of clean-tech business across Waterloo Region and to keep more of the money we spend on energy in our community.
  • Our community’s ongoing leadership and innovation on the environment and preparing for a sustainable future.
  • The additional benefits of reducing our GHG emissions such as cleaner air, mitigating severe weather, healthier and more liveable communities and diverse transportation options.

If you are able to provide a delegation, please register as soon as possible! You may also visit the ClimateActionWR for more updates on this target and the upcoming delegations.

This is a historic moment for our community that you can be a part of. We want to give councillors as much support as possible in approving this target!

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Mary Jane Patterson, Executive Director

 

Councillors’ email addresses:
Region of Waterloo (all council members): <[email protected]>
City of Cambridge: <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>
City of Kitchener: <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>
City of Waterloo: <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>

Register to speak to council as a delegation:
Cambridge: https://forms.cambridge.ca/Delegation-Request-Form
Kitchener: https://www.kitchener.ca/en/city-services/appear-as-a-delegation.aspx
Waterloo: http://www.waterloo.ca/en/government/delegationregistration.asp
Region of Waterloo: https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regional-government/communicate-with-council.aspx

By Sarah Lukaszczyk

On a late spring Saturday morning, I made the walk from my home in Waterloo to the Mount Hope Neighborhood; I was planning to volunteer at a rain barrel fundraiser for a local charity. As I walked I began to notice subtle changes in the landscape. From diverse, grass-free lawns blooming with wildflowers to pollinator-friendly plants, it was easy to see the different ways residents in this neighborhood  were safeguarding the environment and bettering the overall community aesthetic. Peoples’ desire to improve their yards was not limited to their lawns – standard grass boulevards were commonly replaced with an eye-catching arrangement of colourful flowers and other succulents. 

I noticed these neighbourhood improvements following my opportunity earlier that week to interview Mount Hope resident Stephen Barath, who recently installed a rain garden. In our interview, Stephen made me acutely aware of the neighborhood’s heightened conservation ethic. However, it was not until I saw the gradual transition from grass lawns to little forests during my walk that I felt like I was entering a little utopia.

As part of Reep’s RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods project, and under the watchful eye of his wife and two young daughters,  Stephen installed a rain garden on one of his rental properties. Digging holes and choosing native plants was rewarding, Stephen explained, a sense that was increasingly evident to me over the course of our interview.  As a daughter of a professional landscaper myself, it was invigorating to see the enjoyment and pride Stephen had towards his garden. It warmed my heart further to hear that his two-year-old daughter even got her hands dirty to help her Dad dig holes. That evoked memories of time spent with my own Dad as a child. Stephen’s understanding of the importance (and fun, as he reminded me repeatedly) of these projects to safeguarding our water and beautifying the community left a lasting impression, as he has already decided to build another rain garden on a different property.

Not entirely convinced it was all fun and games, I challenged Stephen to tell me something unexpected he had experienced while building the rain garden. He explained that in jest neighbours would stop and say things like ‘Did the water main break?’ while only one neighbour was able to correctly identify what Stephen was actually up to. A little girl who was walking home with her grandmother after school even exclaimed, “Look Grandma that man is still digging holes.” After describing them, Stephen went on to say that these exchanges with his neighbours were always welcome so he had a reason to take a break from digging and chat about the wider benefits of rain gardens for the community.

For his tenants the rain garden removes almost all the grass on the property. There is no longer a need to mow and Stephen imagines this could be seen as an added benefit for the renter and the landlord. Although, based on my brief time in the community, initiatives such as these are not merely done for the sake of convenience but also for their environmental benefit.

Being that Father’s Day had recently past, Stephen’s father came for a visit and while in town the two made time to see the new rain garden. Stephen admitted to me that while the garden didn’t look like much at present, his father observed that, “Like the acorns they used to plant together when Stephen was young, the garden will begin to bloom in due time.” And just as Stephen’s father continued to point out the different trees the two had planted in his youth, I imagine Stephen would likewise do the same with his own daughters in the years to come. Thanks to the help of Reep’s RAIN Coach, the family had resources that helped them to identify which native species were best suited for the area and whether they should be placed in the shade or sun.

Overall, my greatest take away from meeting Stephen and his family is that while fun, you don’t start these projects – especially the do-it-yourself ones – simply for yourself. These spaces are created to be shared, whether that be with the little girl and her grandma who live in the neighborhood, the Environmental studies student casually strolling by one Saturday morning or the busy bees and butterflies attracted by your hard work. It’s all worth it for the joy your rain garden brings to all who see it.

Visit Reep Green Solutions’ RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods web page to learn mo re information build your own rain garden and incentives available residents of Mount Hope on a first come, first served basis.

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.

Our lives at home affect our world's health

Earth Day is on a Saturday this year

Come and join the celebrations at the Reep House for Sustainable Living!

Enter our prize draw! Tattoos for the kids!

 

Here’s what’s happening

Open House 10 – 3

Drop and check out environmentally friendly features both inside and outside the Reep House for Sustainable Living.

Ask the Experts

10 – 1 Home Energy Efficiency: Dave Wood, Registered Energy Advisor

10 – 11 Water Conservation: Brendan Schaefer, Reep House Facilities Manager

12 – 1 Insulation: Brendan Schaefer, Reep House Facilities Manager

1 – 3 RAIN Smart Homes: Patrick Gilbride, RAIN Program Manager

1 – 3 Taking action on climate change: Danielle Laperriere, ClimateActionWR

2 – 3 Waste Reduction: Andrea Bales, Waste Reduction Advisor

RSVP on Facebook. Invite your friends!

 

Schneider Creek Neighbourhood Clean Up

10 a.m. – Gather at the park by the pedestrian bridge on Peter Street

10 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Clean up!

Noon – Return to Reep House to enjoy hospitality and open house

 

by Katharine Clarkson, Waste Reduction Programs Coordinator

Although the majority of our household waste can be diverted to either the blue box or the green bin, one common item cannot: Diapers.

As a result families with young children using disposable diapers will produce more waste. Luckily, there are means to reduce diaper waste and still meet the new garbage limits.

Choose reusable diapers with liners

The best and most obvious way to reduce your household waste is to replace those disposable diapers with reusable ones. Although reusable diapers are initially more expensive, they are cost effective for prolonged use.

To make using reusable diapers more convenient, consider buying disposable diaper liners to use in reusable diapers. Disposable liners will still produce waste that must go into the garbage but liner waste will be significantly less than using disposable diapers. This hybrid alternative may be enticing for those unsure about using reusable diapers.  For more information and helpful tips on using reusable diapers, visit the Real Diaper Association.

Where to find cloth diapers locally

Here are some stores and services to consider:

Take diapers to the landfill

If reusable diapers are definitely not an option for you, there are other opportunities to reduce your diaper waste. The Region of Waterloo will accept diapers in clear bags at either the Waterloo or Cambridge transfer station. While perhaps an inconvenient route for some families, directly dropping diapers off is one option to reduce your weekly household waste drastically if you are having difficulty meeting the new limits.

Aside from the free diaper drop off, there are no other free options for disposing of diapers other than in your own garbage. Nevertheless, using the blue box and green bin can reduce your household waste by over 60%, leaving plenty of room within the biweekly four-bag limit for diapers!

Minimize smell

To prepare your home and diapers for bi-weekly garbage pick up, consider using a diaper pail (Diaper Genie being a commonly known model) or another means of containment to manage the smell of soiled diapers. Emptying your diaper pail and putting the contained diapers in another bag or container is a sure way to continue to keep smells and pests away.

 

What do you do?

Do you have any tips to share on using cloth diapers? Or how to manage using disposables with the new rules and schedule? Share in the comment section below!

photo credit: PersonalCreations.com Baby Shower Diaper Cake via photopin (license)

Helping a homeowner maximize savings on energy

by Kristin Koetsier

Cambridge resident Normand Genest had been meaning to redo his kitchen and basement for a long time, and had already planned to make replacing windows and adding insulation a part of the project. He was just about to put his plans into action when he heard about the Union Gas Home Reno Rebate program on TV, and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to maximize his savings by getting in touch with Reep Green Solutions.

Your kitchen is so much more than a place to prepare meals. Trust FLOFORM to transform the most important room in your home into a welcoming space for everyday living. For more than 50 years, their skilled craftspeople have been helping homeowners select, fabricate and install kitchen floform countertops with just the right balance of storage, style and comfort.

Quick response on home energy evaluation

Genest was impressed by how quickly the Home Energy Evaluation was arranged after he first called. “They were very accommodating because they came the next day to do the initial evaluation,” he says. “So that was great for me because it had to be done before the renovation would begin.”

Renovations include home energy upgrades

Genest had previously installed a new furnace and air conditioning system as well as extra insulation in the attic. He’d also recently installed a new water heater with an electric shut-off vent.

This most recent renovation involved redoing the kitchen and family room, so Genest had four windows plus one large bay window replaced while they were at it. They also put foam insulation in the basement walls and installed an air exchanger. As the Certified Energy Advisor who performed the evaluation recommended, they installed the air exchanger before having the foam insulation put in, so that it could be sealed properly.
basement mid-renovation installing insulationThe comfort of the basement has definitely improved since the renovation, as it is now much warmer than before, and the energy efficiency of the house has improved significantly. The house will use 1,138 cubic metres less natural gas per year, keeping 2.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Genest expects to receive a rebate cheque from Union Gas because of these improvements.

Saving energy requires changing behaviours

In addition to making structural changes to their home, Genest and his wife have long employed energy saving techniques such as turning the water heater on vacation mode when they’re away, and avoiding peak hydro times.

“People have to change their behaviour,” Genest says.

Take advantage of Reep House displays

Although Genest was already fairly confident making home renovation decisions, he found the Home Energy Evaluation helpful in identifying leaks and ways to improve air tightness, as well as advice on how to prioritize spending. He also enjoyed seeing the many different kinds of insulation on display at the REEP House for Sustainable Living at 20 Mill Street – something he thinks could be especially helpful for someone who is new to home renovations. The display of shower heads of varying water efficiencies was similarly helpful.

Renovate as soon as possible to maximize savings

If Genest could recommend one thing to other homeowners, it’s to do their renovations as early as possible in order to maximize their savings.

“If I would have done [the basement reno] ten years ago, it would have paid for itself by now from the energy savings,” he says. “Don’t wait too long – do it as soon as you can, so you can reap the maximum benefits.”

If your house is in need of renovations, it’s best for both your pocketbook and the environment to do those renovations as soon as you can.

 

Check out REEP Green Solutions Zero Waste 101 for more blog posts and videos on how you can reduce your waste and live a more sustainable lifestyle!

Here is a presentation to assist participants in the Zero Waste Challenge Waterloo Region that also helps anyone interested in reducing the waste they create. If you’re looking for more information, check out our zero waste 101 page.

Do you have any tips? Please share them in the comments below!

 


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