Posts Tagged ‘water’

Its been quite the year for me. I started writing this blog in August of 2012, with a goal of sharing some of the knowledge that I have gained – and am still gaining – in trying to reduce my family’s consumption of water, energy and resources.

Its been so busy, the only reason I know it has been a year is the annual renewal reminder from WordPress to keep this site alive.

In the year since I started trying to write monthly, I managed to complete a LEED Platinum certification, learned the value of certified wood products first hand, purchased an electric car and started writing a blog for work, focussed on commercial green building. I even managed to grow some vegetables in my back yard.

The most recent development comes from my volunteer efforts through Canada Green Building Council. I have been volunteering with the CaGBC Greater Toronto Chapter as a way to network, to get to know the movers and shakers in the green building industry and to understand the latest and greatest trends in this rapidly advancing industry. I was elected to the board in 2010, and was elected to the Chair position in May of this year.  Its been a great opportunity to meet the best and brightest in this rapidly growing industry and I’ve been happy to play a part in the growth of the Chapter and its membership.

So what’s in the cards for the next year? I’d like to jump into the home market in Toronto (if the bank lets me that is!), and either deep-energy-retrofit, custom build, major reno or some variation on that theme. We’ll start with homework on the Living Building Challenge, LEED for Homes, Passive Haus and Energy Star, and maybe even look for an architect if we get that serious. Green building magazines will likely play a large role in this as well, as I work to inspire my better half with some existing amazing green homes.

A trip to Philadelphia to Greenbuild, the USGBC’s annual conference, should fuel this search.  It may even inspire something I’m not even thinking about now.

My term as Chair of the CaGBC’s Toronto Chapter will end in May, so there is still plenty of time for me to support the growth and development of the Chapter while learning as much as I can.

The coming year will no doubt be busy. My boys are growing and getting busier. Work is still challenging. I’ll take it as it comes, but if things happen at the same pace as this last year, it’ll be fun and challenging. Stay tuned!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me, both on the home front, at work (some more writing amongst other things) and in my volunteering capacity as Vice-Chair of the local Canada Green Building Council Chapter.

I’ve spent some time in the back yard this spring. I’ll be honest, it started with merely trying to repair damage to the grass caused by man’s best friend over the winter. I bought some topsoil, some seed, and started watering and looking at the forecast to see when I didn’t need to water.

This went fairly well, as I’ve now got some baby grass sprouts returning to the bare areas. This came as a surprise for me, because I’ve never been able to keep a plant alive. Encouraged, I decided I want to grow some tomatoes and maybe some peppers. My son added raspberries to the list, so now it’s a full-blown project.

After googling “how to grow tomatoes for dummies”, I decided that I’ve only got one location good enough to try this, along the fence. My backyard is on the north side of the house, and features a giant pine on one corner and an oak on the other, so there is a LOT of shade. I’m also dubious as to soil quality, particularly under the pine. Cedars line my neighbours fence, enclosing the yard nicely. A plan forms – build a raised bed, get some compost soil, and a rain barrel to stop using potable water for my backyard project.

A trip to my father-in-law’s and some pleading results in a trip to a City of Toronto compost station and an F-150 full of compost. Soil problem solved.

The home builder was nice enough to leave a pile of extra bricks under the deck, so these have been appropriated to act as walls for the bed. Some rebar pushed into the soil should keep the bed stable. A mason would mock my build quality, but it’ll do. Total cost so far – <$10 for coffees on the drive for compost and an IOU to my father-in-law.


Finally, my rain barrel. Home Depot’s options seemed just a little too pricey, so I started looking through the classifieds, and found, who partners with non-profits to raise funds through truck-load rain barrel sales. For $65, I picked up a barrel, filter, downspout diverter, spigot and overflow hose. Now it’s just a matter of waiting to see how much rain will make it into that downspout.

We’ve now planted a couple of transplanted of raspberry bushes and the tomato plants are next.

Most of my other posts have been focused on energy in one way or another, for transportation, home or commercial use. It’s where the majority of my experience lies, although water use and efficiency is related, particularly with green buildings. With this project, I hope to grow some food for our table, teach my son something, while seeing how much water I can actually capture from the roof. I have a second barrel for the front yard, or possibly to add in series to the first.

I won’t pretend to be single-handedly saving Toronto’s storm drains or keeping Lake Ontario full with my 55 gallon rain barrel, but it can’t hurt can it? Canadians are amongst the worst per capita users of water in the world, with residential use averaging 327 litres per person, per day. We don’t need to be.

I will update this post when I succeed (silence will mean I don’t want to admit that I really can’t grow a plant to save my life).

I’m already anticipating those tomatoes and raspberries – and to proving that I can do it with as little potable water as possible.