By Kate Lunau - Monday, March 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
The green jobs sector is no longer a niche
For Chris Rogers, owner of Corporate Chemicals and Equipment in St. Catharines, Ont., the wake-up call came when his father Cecil was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 2000. Cecil, who owned the business before Chris took over, had worked in the industry since he was 18. “He opened my eyes to what he thought was the cause,” Rogers says: the vats of chemicals that surrounded Cecil through his working life. “I started to rethink things.” The company, which makes and sells sanitation supplies, started going green—a philosophy that’s affected everything from products to marketing and, of course, its employees. “The green chemistry of today is the everyday chemistry of tomorrow,” he says. The same could be true of green jobs.
Canada’s green economy is growing fast. Our clean-technology sector, made up of more than 700 companies, saw an 11 per cent jump in employment between 2008 and 2010, according to a January report from the Pembina Institute, a non-profit environmental think tank. Once considered a niche, the green-jobs sector is now comparable to the booming oil and gas extraction sector, and has exceeded the aerospace industry, says a 2012 report from Analytica Advisors, an Ottawa-based consulting firm that specializes in clean energy.
- The future of jobs
- College-corporate partnerships
- After the oil boom
- Colby Cosh on the state and education
Canada’s “green-collar jobs” aren’t just found at clean-technology firms. More than 12 per cent of the Canadian workforce “has some sort of environmental initiatives within its work,” says Grant Trump, CEO of the non-profit ECO Canada. Another four per cent of the workforce spends more than 50 per cent of its time on environmental activities, he says. And 17 per cent of Canadian companies—318,000 in total—employ one or more environmental professional.
By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 2:36 PM - 0 Comments
It turns out cramming more people into cities won’t help the environment or our health, and may even hurt the economy
Last month Toronto’s deputy mayor, Doug Holyday, uttered what has become a cultural taboo in Canada’s largest city. Downtown Toronto, he said, is no place to raise a family.
Holyday, who lives down the street from his grandchildren in the suburban Toronto neighbourhood of Etobicoke, was against a city plan to force condo developers to reserve 10 per cent of their buildings for three-bedroom “family friendly” units.
“I could just see now: ‘Where’s little Ginny?’ ” he said. “She’s downstairs playing in the traffic on her way to the park.”
By Tamsin McMahon - Monday, July 9, 2012 at 1:54 PM - 0 Comments
The Locavore’s Dilemma, a controversial new book by two Canadian academics, is attracting its fair share of criticism
The North American farm is experiencing a cultural renaissance, or so say the stories of urban twentysomethings swapping the comforts of the city for overalls and buckets of manure, of municipal bylaw officials debating the merits of backyard chicken coops, to say nothing of the explosion of farmers’ markets, community gardens, high-end restaurants specializing in local food, and the home-delivery services of fresh produce from nearby farms.
The push for sustainable agriculture and local food trumpeted by everyone from Michelle Obama to the Canadian authors of The100-Mile Diet seems innocuous enough as a way for us to end our dependence on a corn-based diet of junk food and soft drinks, as well as curb rising rates of childhood obesity by teaching us to appreciate how our food gets from the farm to the table.
Know your farmer, proponents of local food say, and you’ll make better choices about what you put in your mouth, support the local economy and save the environment in the process. As Michael Pollan, the New York Times writer and champion of the local food movement, is fond of saying, “Pay more, eat less.”
By Jantzi-Sustainalytics - Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 1:45 PM - 25 Comments
These companies are making corporate social responsibility a key part of the business plan
- The company’s “cool rooﬁng granules” are four times more reflective than conventional granules, helping to decrease overall heat retention and cooling costs.
- Since 1990, it has cut its worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 77 per cent and has reduced total volatile organic air emissions by 96 per cent.
- Earlier this year, and for the seventh time, 3M was named a winner of the Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award for its global energy conservation efforts.
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 1:40 PM - 6 Comments
Why Canadian companies beat the U.S. on corporate social responsibility, but lag behind Europe. Plus, our annual survey of companies with a conscience.
For the third year in a row, Maclean’s has partnered with Jantzi-Sustainalytics, a global leader in sustainability analysis, to present the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations. The companies’ efforts vary—Merck has donated 1.3 million doses of its rotavirus vaccine to babies in Nicaragua, for instance, and Sony Corp. has diverted 205,000 kg of old electronics from landfills since 2008. But they all provide lessons (starting on page 46) on how to be better corporate citizens—lessons that, based on how Canadian companies generally compare to others on this measure, are worth taking note of.
Canadian oil sands companies were caught blinking in the international spotlight when world leaders met at the 2009 climate change summit in Copenhagen. In the run-up to the meetings, foreign activists and newspaper columnists dubbed the industry “dirty” and hell-bent on transforming a large swath of northern Alberta’s boreal forest into a barren moonscape. Ottawa, meanwhile, was accused of being one of the biggest stumbling blocks to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Getting branded as the world’s environmental villain was an unfamiliar and uncomfortable experience for Canadians, many of whom were eager to dismiss foreign criticisms as the rantings of a handful of fringe groups. But anti-oil-sands sentiment has only grown louder in Europe over the past few years and, increasingly, it’s being echoed in some quarters of the United States, the biggest importer of our oil sands crude. Granted, resource extraction has never been a warm and fuzzy business, but many Canadians have been left wondering whether the industry could do a better job insulating itself from such criticism.
By Mike Doherty - Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Alannah Weston is starting with London’s Selfridges to save the world’s fisheries
The signs on the doors of Selfridges’ flagship department store on Oxford Street in London promote giving “the gift of self-indulgence.” Having sold an £85 sandwich, a £1,000 Swarovski-encrusted water bottle, an £1,800 Spanish ham, and a £10,000 children’s electric car, Selfridges is not exactly known for preaching restraint. And yet, in launching Project Ocean, its creative director, Alannah Weston, is doing just that.
“Just because you sell beautiful things doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the right thing,” says Weston, perched over a cup of tea in the downstairs restaurant of the 650,000-sq.-foot store owned by her father, billionaire Galen Weston. Project Ocean, which she has organized with Jonathan Baillie (a childhood friend, and director of conservation for the Zoological Society of London), promises nothing less than “retail activism”: it’s a multi-pronged attempt to save the world’s fisheries from collapse, starting by providing only sustainably sourced fish at Selfridges.
It’s also a transformation of the store itself, with commissioned artwork both madcap and meditative, a sea-themed fashion exhibit including Lady Gaga’s silver lobster hat, well-known chefs in the food hall teaching customers how to cook unpopular seafood, frogmen marching around the aisles, and cheeky but stark messages in the store’s iconic window displays about the depletion of fish stocks.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 12:05 PM - 35 Comments
From fake trees to showering with friends—these ideas might even save you money
1. Sell solar power back into the grid
Solar panels are costly, so only the most committed environmentalists have thus far been willing to install them on the roofs of their homes and businesses. But new government programs that permit small renewable-energy producers to sell excess energy back into the power grid are making it easier for anyone to jump on the solar bandwagon. Last week, the Ontario Power Authority launched Canada’s first feed-in tariff program, which will offer a buy-back rate of up to 80.2 cents per kilowatt for solar power—more than seven times the rate paid for other forms of green power, like wind.
Want in? A grid-connected system at home, including installation, will cost about $10 per watt of output. If you installed a 2,000-watt system (at a cost of $20,000), then depending on your energy consumption you could bring in roughly $1,850 in revenue each year, recouping your investment in just over 10 years. And considering solar panels can last 30 years or longer, that’s a fairly sunny long-range forecast.—Jen Cutts
2. Fake trees
Trees, we all know, are carbon catchers. Problem is, they don’t catch enough of the stuff, and the process is slow. So scientists have built a better mousetrap, so to speak. According to a new report out of the U.K., the most effective way to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) levels is to construct hundreds of thousands of artificial, greenhouse-gas-scrubbing trees.
Prototypes already exist—they’re made up of a type of mesh suspended between a two-pronged fork, and look like gigantic fly swatters. As air blows through the structure, CO2 binds to an absorbent compound, a process that removes the carbon 1,000 times faster then normal plants.
There are problems: the trees are expensive—more than $20,000 each—and “planting” 100,000 of them would offset only 60 per cent of the CO2 produced by a country the size of the U.K. With enough government funding, though, fake forests could start popping up around the world within the next few years.—Tom Henheffer Continue…
By The Editors - Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 10:20 AM - 1 Comment
Canadians are among the biggest water wasters in the world. The reason: it’s cheap.
Often the best course of action is also the simplest, and that’s especially true where the environment is concerned.
Everyone agrees water is a precious resource, so we should treat it as if it’s truly valuable. The same goes for electricity, food and everything else we take from our environment. The greenest thing we can do is stop wasting what we’ve got. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM - 2 Comments
Real ways to save the world
You can’t argue with the logic of sustainability. It makes perfect sense—if we want humanity to last, we need to start saving the planet now.
So why has progress been so slow? Why are people still driving SUVs instead of hybrids? Why aren’t homeowners lining up to install solar panels on their rooftops? Why don’t they understand?
The truth is, when we implore people to adopt sustainable practices, what we’re really suggesting is that they voluntarily lower their standard of living now for the sake of future generations they will likely never know. It’s a lot to ask.
If we want consumer behaviour to change quickly, we need to offer some short-term rewards, and consequences. In this special report, Maclean’s examines ways to do that. For starters, we should stop government subsidies that actively encourage people to waste resources. If something is cheap, we waste it—so why do governments insist on policies that keep prices low for water, electricity and food?
We also look at how to better market the green movement—the most effective ways to convince people to buy into sustainability. And we examine the smartest, cheapest and most innovative environmental ideas out there—everything from solar power solutions that can actually make you money, to seaweed wraps for your home.
Changing our culture of waste and environmental insensitivity is a tough task. It’s time we got started. Continue…
By Andrew Potter - Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 2:40 PM - 8 Comments
China is rapidly expanding, but the concern about its environmental impact is misplaced
Outdoorsy types have for ages practised no-impact camping, with its charming motto, “Take only pictures; leave only footprints.” The rationale is not complicated: the central conceit of going camping is you are entering the “wilderness,” a realm free of civilization with minimal evidence of human activity. If you vacate your campsite and leave a bunch of used flashlight batteries and empty Chef Boyardee tins lying around, it kinda spoils the effect for the next group. In short, no-impact camping is the only way to make the experience sustainable for everyone.
But this idea, that what matters to sustainability is the effect our activities have on our future welfare and our descendants’, is one we often forget when it comes to thinking about the economy and the environment as a whole. Which is a bit weird, since the Brundtland commission, convened by the UN in 1983, explicitly defines a sustainable economy as one “that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Continue…
By Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 11:20 AM - 885 Comments
Suddenly, the military is looking into hybrid tanks and solar power
The final slide in Dan Nolan’s token PowerPoint presentation is an overhead photograph of the Pentagon, the famous five-sided headquarters of the U.S. military. It’s a pretty standard shot, the kind you see on postcards and T-shirts all across Washington. Except for two things: the solar panels on the roof and the wind turbines near the parking lot.
The added features are fake, of course. But the message Nolan is trying to convey is very real. “If we don’t have that in five years, then I’ve failed,” says the retired army colonel, who now advises his former employer in its pursuit of energy-efficient technologies. “We are only limited by our imaginations.”