Green Communities are support universal home energy ratings when homes are put up for sale. It’s a great way to create value for energy efficiency. And buyers have a right to know.

Home need energy audits when they are sold.

Green Communities are support universal home energy ratings when homes are put up for sale. It’s a great way to create value for energy efficiency. And buyers have a right to know.

Starting in 2019, under the Green Energy Act, the Ontario government will require home energy ratings and advice at time of listing. The move is intended to encourage investments in home energy efficiency.

The Home Energy Transparency Coalition (we’re a member) supports the measure and notes that home buyers have a right to reliable information about energy efficiency when they are considering a purchase, as we do for vehicles and appliances.

GCC Executive Director Clifford Maynes recently participated in a series of consultation committee meetings to discuss plans for the Home Energy Rating & Disclosure (HER&D).

The Ontario Real Estate Association raised a long list of concerns: OREA opposes universal ratings at time of listing in favour of including energy audits in a standard home inspection.

As the sole representative of the energy assessment industry, Clifford defended the principle of universality (not all real estate transactions involve home inspections, and the inspectors are opposed to making audits a standard part of their service). Clifford also defended the integrity of the EnerGuide Rating System and quality assurance.

To re-establish the necessary auditor capacity in Ontario required to meet the demand for time of listing audits in 2019, GCC is recommending a substantial increase in retrofit incentives starting in 2017. “We in the industry are quite capable of ramping up capacity, as we have done twice previously. We just need a market for our services to justify the investment,” Clifford said.

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Design and build your own rain garden

RAIN Community Solutions offers a two-day workshop on how to design and build a rain garden.

RAIN Community Solutions offered a two-day workshop on how to design and build a rain garden.

RAIN COMMUNITY Solutions is offering a two-day workshop on how to design and build a rain garden, 27-28 October, in Peterborough, ON.

This interactive workshop includes both an instructional component and hands-on activities. Participants will work in small groups to design their own rain gardens and share ideas.

The workshop is led by New York-based landscape architect and ecologist Rusty Schmidt, who has 20 years experience designing and building more than 1,000 rain gardens. Rusty will cover the following topics:

  • the problems with urban runoff and green infrastructure solutions
  • how rain gardens work
  • how to design a build your own rain garden
  • soil type and plant selection
  • monitoring and maintenance

For more information, and to register, click here.

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Green Communities are proud partners with car heaven. Donate to support our work.

Send your old car to heaven – and cash to us

The Green Communities Foundation (GCF) is a proud partner of Car Heaven, a national charitable vehicle recycling program. Car Heaven lets you get rid of your old, high-polluting clunker and donate the proceeds to a charitable organization.

Car Heaven is the only car recycling program dedicated to using auto recyclers that comply with the Canadian Auto Recycler’s Environmental Code. These recyclers reuse and recycle 80% of a vehicle and dispose of what’s left in an environmentally responsible way, keeping cars out of landfills and hazardous materials out of our air, ground and water.

“Older cars contain a lot of hazardous fluids and materials,” says Laurie Westaway, GCF Chair. “As an environmental charity, it’s important to us that Car Heaven ensures they are disposed of properly.”

Making a donation to GCF through Car Heaven is simple: call or fill out a form on-line and a recycler in your area will take care of the details, including towing away your car for free within seven days. You’ll receive a charitable tax receipt from GCF in about 12 weeks, based on the proceeds from your vehicle.

Recycling an old car can make a huge environmental impact. Older vehicles are typically less fuel efficient and lack the latest technology for cutting air pollution and reducing smog-forming emissions. A car from 2003 or earlier can cause up to 39 times more pollution than a newer vehicle.

To date, Car Heaven has taken more than 120,000 vehicles off the road and reduced smog-forming pollution by 4.925 tonnes.

The Green Communities Foundation is the charitable affiliate of Green Communities Canada (GCC). As well as receiving donations, it engages GCC to carry out programs that support a green and healthy future for all.

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Newest WALK Friendly Communities announced

Designations were recently awarded to three Ontario municipalities for significant progress towards increased walkability: Mississauga (Silver), Pelham (Bronze), and Minto (Bronze).

“The WALK Friendly Community designation recognizes communities that take practical steps to make walking safe, convenient and enjoyable,” says program manager Kate Hall, right.

The City of Hamilton has been designated a Silver WALK Friendly community for its commitment to walkability and pedestrian safety.

Mississauga, Minto and Pelham were recently awarded WALK Friendly Community designation. Applications are being accepted until 20 February for the next round of designations.

“Walk friendly communities are linked to higher rates of everyday walking, which helps create vibrant neighbourhoods and increased retail sales and transit use.”

Hall also notes that walking is now recognized as a “wonder drug” that boosts health and fitness and combats chronic diseases like diabetes.

WALK Friendly Communities is a program of the Canada Walks department of Green Communities Canada. The designation guides and encourages municipalities to reverse decades of relative neglect and start putting walking back where it belongs: at the top of the transportation hierarchy.

“We have built walking into our policies, plans, and projects to make Mississauga more pedestrian friendly,” says Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “We will continue to encourage active transportation and the environment to support it.”

Minto Mayor George Bridge says the designation is a “tremendous honour,” while Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn says he is “delighted” by the designation.

Communities applying for the designation report their progress on more than 200 key walkability indicators, including sidewalk policies, connectivity, progressive design standards, campaigns and promotions, training, and citizen engagement. Applications are scored by a panel of experts.

Mississauga, Pelham and Minto join the following communities which received walk friendly designation in 2013: Hamilton (silver), Ottawa (silver), Richmond Hill (bronze), London (bronze), and Wasaga Beach (bronze).

Applications for the next round of designations will be accepted up until 20 February. Communities wishing to apply are encouraged to read the Application Guide and visit the WALK Friendly Communities website.

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Planning for greener communities

GCC staff attended the Ontario Professional Planners Institute’s symposium to promote walkable communities and innovation in stormwater management.

GCC staff promote innovation in stormwater management and walkable communities.

Staff from Green Communities Canada travelled to Niagara Falls earlier this month for the Ontario Professional Planners Institute’s symposium, Healthy Communities in the Digital Age.

Kate Hall, our Walk Friendly Communities Program Manager, led two very successful walkability audits. Delegates took to the streets to examine existing walking conditions and assess how they relate to the safety, access, comfort and convenience of walkers. After their walk, they discussed their observations from a planning perspective.

“Walkability audits can be a powerful tool for change,” says Kate. “Once you’ve been on a walkability audit, you’ll never look at your streets the same way again.”

Clara Blakelock, our Coordinator of Water Programs, attended the conference to promote green infrastructure for stormwater management and GCC’s RAIN program. RAIN promotes ecological stormwater management by treating rain as a resource and managing it close to where it falls.

“Our goal at the conference was to let land-use planners know about the possibilities for RAIN in their communities, and to gather feedback about how stormwater is being managed across the province,” says Clara.

Clara spoke with many planners who were receptive to the RAIN program message and understood the need for innovation in stormwater management. They also identified barriers in the approvals processes that prevent developers from undertaking more green infrastructure projects. Through a leadership role in the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition and GIO’s stormwater section, GCC is working to address these barriers and create a more conducive climate for green infrastructure.

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School Travel Planning: A Children’s Mobility Model for Canada

Encouraging students to walk or cycle is a great way to address traffic issues around schools and improve student health. But it’s easier said than done.

School Travel Planning is an innovative process that makes active transportation safe for students.

School Travel Planning is an innovative process that makes active transportation safe for students.

That’s the value of School Travel Planning (STP), an innovative process in which the school community comes together to identify barriers to active school travel, devise an action plan, implement the plan, and measure results.

STP was brought to this country and disseminated nationally by Green Communities Canada – the brainchild of Jacky Kennedy, director of our Canada Walks program (right).

STP is a flexible process that engages the school community and key partners, including staff, boards, parents, students, public health, police and traffic, transportation and planning departments.

Stakeholders often identify infrastructure improvements needed to make walking and cycling safe. And education, by-law enforcement or policy changes may also be needed for a shift in travel behavior to occur.

The process is led by an STP Facilitator who works collaboratively with the community.

The Canadian STP model has been pilot-tested in all provinces and territories, and provides a rich and varied base of experience.

Green Communities Canada, Metrolinx and the University of Toronto recently completed a preliminarystudy into the costs and benefits of School Travel Planning, using data from 19 Ontario schools. Results showed significant annual benefits from the reduction in car trips. If current levels of active transportation for students are maintained for another 10 years, benefits could equal $1.8 million, an average of $221 per student.

Ottawa’s Elmdale Public School is a perfect illustration of school travel planning at work. Actions implemented between 2010 and 2012 include a bike rodeo with safety and skills training, parking area mapping, walking campaigns and theme days, a Walking School bus and Bike Club, crossing guards, the installation of a bike rack and traffic signage and by-law enforcement.

Student classroom surveys measured a decrease in car trips of 8.3 per cent and an increase in cycling of 12.8 per cent. The total project cost was $5,445.50 with an estimated benefit-cost ratio of 11.

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