Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Leading by Example to TransformTO

by: Sophie Plottel, Project Lead, Policy & Research, Environment & Energy Division

The City of Toronto is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations. In 2016, the greenhouse gas emissions associated with City operations accounted for 10% of the overall emissions across Toronto. Through TransformTO, the city's climate action plan, the City has committed to leading by example on actions to reduce emissions associated with its buildings, vehicles, and waste.

In addition to its goal to reduce community-wide emissions by 80% by 2050, TransformTO also set a series of corporate leadership goals to reduce the environmental impact and costs associated with City operations. This includes a goal to retrofit and improve energy efficiency of all City owned buildings by 2040. Buildings currently generate about half of the greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto, primarily due to space and water heating with natural gas.

The Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre at Queen’s Quay and Bathurst Street is one building that is currently undergoing a deep retrofit to reduce energy consumption and improve building resilience. The project includes replacement of lighting with energy efficient LED lights, and updating the building automation system to optimize the performance of the building’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration.

Watch Rob Maxwell, the City's manager of corporate energy initiatives, speak about the project on GlobalTV

The project will also install a state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system that uses water from Lake Ontario to heat and cool the building. The building will also be outfitted with an innovative combined solar and storage system that generates power through rooftop solar panels and stores the energy in batteries. This will ensure the centre's supply and security of energy is reliable in blackouts, giving the community a reliable and safe place in times of extreme weather.

Curious about installing renewable energy technologies in your home? Click on the image to view four ideas, developed in partnership with Global News.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

How can we help Toronto's pollinators?

by Annemarie Baynton

Toronto is home to hundreds of species of pollinators, including over 360 species of bees and 112 species of butterflies. And they need our help.

Pollinators are in decline due to habitat loss, climate change and other stressors. Some are even endangered and at risk of extinction – like the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and the Monarch butterfly.

STARK CONTRAST: What your grocery store looks
like with (top) and without (bottom) pollinators.
Source: Whole Foods

So what can we do? Plant pollinator gardens! Yes, the easiest and most effective way to help pollinators is to create much-needed habitat. The simple act of planting native plants, trees and shrubs will have positive benefits for all pollinators in Toronto.

Fortunately, many of the places to create pollinator gardens already exist – in our yards, school grounds, church properties, and parks. Our city with patches of parkland, ravines, urban gardens and green roofs, can provide an abundance of potential pollinator habitat.

Want to create a pollinator garden in your community? Apply for a PollinateTO grant!

Through its new PollinateTO Community Grants program, the City of Toronto is offering grants of up to $5,000 to support community-led projects that:

  • create pollinator gardens and rain gardens on public and private lands, including residential streets, neighbourhoods and school yards
  • enhance or expand existing gardens with native pollinator-friendly plants

So what exactly do pollinators need? And how do we create pollinator habitat? Find out, after the jump.