The weather is great, and it is time to get outdoors. On a rainy day take a moment to read our newsletter. You will find interesting reflections on building a Passive House and training for International Development in a climate changed world. A former Humber student who took the first climate change elective presents a thesis project applying what she learned. So, when the weather isn't great, grab a glass of something refreshing and enjoy.
Issue #02- July 15, 2021 - CONTENT
01 - Doing the Right Thing – By Cheryl Bradbee, BPhil, MCS, MDiv, MLA, PhD
02 - Art as an early warning system – By Aleksandar Janicijevic, Dipl. Ing. Arch
03 - Climate Change in International Development Education
By Elaine Bradbee
04 - PAKK – eco-conscious camp cooking unit
By Moriah Gonidis, Humber College Industrial Design student
05 - Other news
01 - Doing the Right Thing
By Cheryl Bradbee, BPhil, MCS, MDiv, MLA, PhD
According to the government of Canada buildings contribute 13% of our GHG emissions annually. Hard to tell from the infographic what exactly is included in all of that. But of course, there is also the waste from construction and renovations, electricity use and the use of gas primarily for heating. Addressing how we build would help Canada reduce GHG emissions, possibly across a couple of areas.
Currently, the highest level of building is Net Zero and Passive House. Passive House is an engineering approach that was developed originally in the 90’s in Germany. The focus is on occupant comfort through regulation of temperature and humidity. The building is highly insulated, thermal bridges and any openings in the exterior walls minimized and eliminated where possible. The goal is a building that requires little or no energy inputs to keep occupants comfortable. Design modifications are made to account for summer overheating. Net zero goes the step further usually with energy production that accompanies the building and attention to waste during the construction process. Continue ↓
Canada’s buildings codes do not require this level of construction at this point. Choosing a building done to this level does add cost. It is a factor that tends to hold people back from making that choice. In April this year my own Passive House was begun. I will not seek certification as that adds another $10-15,000 to the cost. However, I will have a blower test done that must achieve certain outcomes to be considered well built. Because the design of the house calls for double stud walls – an inner and outer wall, both highly insulated – the cost, especially this year, is higher than normal construction.
Here's the thing. . . there is nothing much to encourage me to spend that extra money. Sure, my heating bills will be lower. And yes, if all goes well, I can get $6000 back from an NB Power program but that really isn’t much to encourage an owner to do more. In addition, my insurance costs may be higher. Insurers are notoriously conservative and the fact that I’ve included a rough-in for solar on the plans meant my insurance quotes were escalating significantly. Why? Well, they are just not comfortable with solar. Yet, I would have to include it to achieve Net Zero. I added the rough in because I hope the house will stand for a long time and a future owner might need it even if I choose not to. Continue ↓
My contractor tells me Passive House is a hard sell. He wants to build them because he believes in quality housing. Yet, potential clients shy away when they hear the higher costs in a quote. It becomes difficult and discouraging to do the right thing. What do we need to move things on?
Uncompromising building codes that simply demand the best level of building. That makes for better shelter for all for now and into the future.
Insurers that promote climate change ready adaptations like solar panels and reward right choices.
A generous rebate from governments for choosing a better building. Make it substantial so that people overcome their hesitation. In the end, it will pay off for all.
I wish that in 2021, building a house like my new one was not a radical or heroic act. It should be boringly normal. It should be easy. It should be an attractive option. But we aren’t there yet. What do you think? What changes would you add to my list?
Continue to the next article ↓
02. Art as an early warning system
By Aleksandar Janicijevic, Dipl. Ing. Arch.
How arts, culture and nature can help people absorb and process accelerating changes manifesting in mental health burdens, emphasized by climate change and the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Through urban art, participants seek opportunities for play and creation as they interact with the city’s spaces. They are involved in a variety of explorations of the physical and psychological landscape and the cultural and human geography of the city. Urban art, in Toronto for example, is accepted as a valued and approved art form. It can be observed that the vast majority of visual themes deal with the environment. More then just descriptive images, they are symbols celebrating nature.
Symbols are transformed objects with great psychological importance, expressed most often in religion and visual art. To define symbols we need to use words. They are, however, not enough to interpret the role of symbols in our lives. Symbols reflect the psychological condition of the modern world. Continue ↓
The image above is a message from St. James Town, within an area locally called “Little Filipino Town”. It is the most densely populated area of not only Toronto, but all of North America. Maybe this language is more understandable for the young generation that will carry the burden of improving the RESILIENCE. Continue ↓
The examples above and below, from the Esplanade, are already famous Toronto landmarks. They have appeared in numerous movies, TV shows and advertisements. Sight is frequently used as a popular photo and event location spreading, consciously and unconsciously, the word about climate problems. It was created in 2014 by a group of sixteen young artists called 16 Jamii Esplanade.
While our sensory receptors are constantly collecting information from the environment, it is ultimately how we interpret that information that affects how we interact with the world. Perception refers to the way sensory information is organized and consciously experienced.
On the other hand, how we interpret those sensations is influenced by our available knowledge, our experiences, and our thoughts. Although our perceptions are built from sensations, not all sensations result in perception. In fact, we often don’t perceive stimuli that remain relatively constant over prolonged periods of time. Motivation can also seriously affect perception. Continue ↓
In the last couple of decades, urban art (sometimes called street art or graffiti art) has become very popular and influential. It is, in most places, legal, encouraged and even financed by local authorities. Some artist, past and present, like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Whils, Manco, OsGemeo, Bordalo or Banksy have became famous influencers precisely because of this type of work.
The excessive production and consumption of “stuff”, which results in the continuous production of “garbage” and consequently in the destruction of the planet, are the central themes of Bordalo’s work [photo bellow]. “This “garbage” assumes itself as the unusual and unique raw material that Bordalo uses in the construction of large scale pieces that he has spread around the world and that, above all, intend to be the vehicle of a universal manifesto towards the pollution and climate change”. — Bordalo. Continue ↓
The image below is a vista of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendships Centres [OFIFC] on Front Streeet East in Toronto, with very impressive mural—The Seven Stages of Life. The mural was created in 2006 by Joseph Sagaj. It is back up after intensive restoration. Continue ↓
When is mural not just a mural? When it is part of a healing process? The image below is newest addition to the neighbourhood, at Nicholson Lane in the old town Toronto. This initiative by the Laneway Project, supported by Kristyn Wong-Tam the city Councillor for this area, led to this magnificent mural created by artists Monica Wickeler or monica on the moon and Miigizi or Wiishkoonseh Miigizi'enh meaning Whistling White Headed Eagle in the Chippewa language. One may notice nature themes are reoccurring in indigenous art. Carl Jung once said: ”Groups of people can become especially receptive to specific symbols due to the historical situation they find themselves in.” They are created by long gone but not forgotten memories of life in harmony with the environment. In this case they are not early but late warning signs. Continue ↓
How do we observe and interpret symbols around us? How does our education shape us into being specific observers? Artists have an important role to play in the composition of urban space. Moreover, inspiring city dwellers to live within their environment actively and creatively, playing out their own ideas and concerns simultaneously involving unconscious and conscious interaction with urban space.
As Marshall McLuhan said many years ago: “Art, at its most significant, is a Distant Early Warning System that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it.” Let’s pay attention and heed the warnings of the artists around us. Continue to the next article ↓
03 - Climate Change
in International Development Education
– By Elaine Bradbee
I am just finishing up a certificate in International Development (ID) from Humber College. One of the most striking things in my studies is that issues around climate change were never discussed. While it is clear that the profession of ID is very concerned about the effects of climate change on the peoples of the world in practice, it is equally clear that the teaching of ID has not caught up to practice. Despite the lack of discussion around climate change resilience, I was able to work on three group projects which focused on adaptation and mitigation measures in Indigenous communities in Canada and South and Central America.
Two of the projects were located in Nunavut, which is experiencing a rate of warming that is twice as fast as the rest of Canada. The Government of Nunavut is working on climate change because they recognize that it has impacted their culture, health, well-being, traditional activities, food security, infrastructure, transportation, resource development, tourism, arts and crafts, and energy. They wrote a strategic plan, the Upagiaqtavut, in 2011, to increase Nunavummiut’s (people of Nunavut) adaptive capacity. The third project was working with impoverished rural Indigenous peoples in Bolivia, Guatemala and Peru who are struggling with producing their own food because of the change in the pattern of rains due to climate change. Continue ↓
The first project was a proposal to address the dreadful housing situation in Nunavut. We worked with Alex Cook, an Inuit and owner of ArchTech, and Wonder, Inc., a company that specializes in container houses. This project was to build passive homes with solar panels in Nunavut to address the severe housing shortage, terrible condition of most housing, and the use of diesel fuel for heating. The homes were to be built with Triodetic foundations due to the instability of melting permafrost. Thus, these houses would mitigate the effects of permafrost melting on structures and vastly reduce the use of diesel, which is contributing to climate change.
The second project was a proposal for Canadian Feed the Children and Plenty Canada. This project was located in small, rural Indigenous communities in Bolivia, Guatemala, and Peru and was to run five years. One outcome was to increase the application of Indigenous climate adaptation methods in these very poor communities. We set up the project to provide solar panels and Internet to connect these communities with regional and global online forums of Indigenous peoples who are working to mitigate climate changes in areas all over the world. These forums are used to learn new approaches to mitigation and resilience in the face of climate change. There were to be workshops for passing on this knowledge led by the Elder women and youths of these communities. Continue ↓
The third proposal was again in Nunavut. It was a totally Indigenous-led proposal to hold workshops on how to mitigate the effects of climate change and prepare for changes in livelihoods, culture, and lifestyles. Inuit Elders were to come together to pool their combined knowledge around current changes and anticipated changes, to obtain new knowledge and then to devise culturally appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures. They would then pass this knowledge on to their youth and communities.
While none of these proposals was funded, it was a pleasure to design climate change resilience projects in these areas, but none of this was taught to us in our classes. In fact, we had to fight to do these projects because climate change was not seen as a mainstream topic for proposals. This is absurd. Climate change is THE existential threat of our time, and Indigenous peoples and those who are impoverished are the ones who are suffering most from the warming, natural disasters, and changes in agricultural production due to uncertain rains. People are suffering from climate change, people we are supposed to serve in ID, yet, it is not being taught or addressed in ID education. This needs to change. Continue to the next article ↓
04. PAKK – eco-conscious camp cooking unit
By Moriah Gonidis, Humber College Industrial Design student
With a rise in population, social media trends and the current Covid-19 pandemic, city residents are flocking to parks within Ontario to reap the benefits of being in a natural environment.
Our National and Provincial parks are seeing a drastic increase in park use which ultimately causes damage from human traffic. In order to preserve the biodiversity within these parks, we must evolve the camping experience for urban adventurers. Interviews were conducted to target the key issues with an increase in park visitors. Parks are currently seeing a drastic increase in litter, traffic congestion, noise pollution and overall stress on park staff and the environment.
PAKK is an eco-conscious camp cooking unit for individuals who have limited equipment and experience.
Read PDF document with more information or go to this link for in depth information.
05. Other news
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