How Climate Smart Are You?

How Businesses Can Cut Their Carbon Pollution and get 20% off the Training
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iPhone Diary, November, 2014

“They’re all doing it - you should too.”

“Doing what?”

“Cutting their carbon!”

“Their what?”

“Their carbon pollution - the stuff that makes the climate crisis worse.”

“Crisis - is it a crisis? I thought it was just change.”

“Oh, fuggedit. Am I hired or fired?”

“Can we make money from it?”

"Van Houtte Coffee Services is saving $8,000 a year following the lighting retrofit they did. 74% of the companies are reporting financial benefits, as well as new customers and increased productivity.

"The average company cut its operational costs by $3,600 in the first year, double that in year two.

"The Ethical Bean company is projecting an up to 80% reduction in natural gas and associated costs by upgrading to a smart roaster.

"And Tinhorn Creek, the Okanagan vineyard, cut its costs by $28,000 by changing to a lighter bottle. It’s all reported in the Climate Smart log books, sir.”

“And they’re also cutting their carbon pollution, whatever you called it?”

“Yes. The River Market at Westminster Quay has cut its carbon pollution by almost 24%. Van Houtte Coffee has cut its annual emissions by 18%.

“When you say ‘they’re all doing it,’ how many are we talking about?”

“Nearly eight hundred.”

“And we can join them, just like that?”

“Yes, once you’ve sent a couple of people to the training.”

“I see. So when is it, and what’s it going to cost me?”

Next Climate Smart Training Day: Nov 19th

“The next two Climate Smart trainings are on November 19th and December 10th, in Vancouver. It costs between $1,375 and $2,750 to send two people, depending on how many employees you have, and there’s a 20% discount if you’re a member of the BCSEA.”

“20%, eh? I’d better get my secretary to check if we’re a member. So what about you? What do you want? You’re uncle says you’re quite the smart cookie.”

“If you hire me I’ll help you turn your business into one of the greenest in Canada, and with the lowest carbon footprint.”

“And that’s supposed to be good?”

“How many people under thirty do you have among your customers?”

“I haven’t a clue. Does it matter?”

“Well it does if they’re having sleepless nights worrying about the climate crisis, and they want to support a business that’s doing something about it, rather than ignoring it.”

“So you’re saying our reputation could get a boost if we start doing it, as you put it?”

“Maybe. It depends how far you go with it.”

“Okay, okay. Tell your uncle you’re hired. And I’m sending you on that training, to represent the company.

“Thank you, sir! You won’t regret it. Who will you be sending with me?”

“You mean one’s not enough?”

“No, sir. Climate Smart recommends sending two: preferably your accountant and one other. Then he or she will be able to tell you how much you might need to invest, how much you’ll be able to reduce your carbon pollution, and how much you might save financially.”

“Okay, I’ll send you and Jessica, our accountant. She’s very pretty and very sharp-witted, mind you, so don’t you go falling in love or anything.” 


I-Glass Diary, November 2024

“So what’s up, Matt? I gather you want to leave us.”

“Yes—Jessica and I are having our second child, and we want to move to one of the new ecovillages that are being built on Vancouver Island.”

“I knew I should never have sent you to that training. So Jessica’s leaving us too? She’s our best accountant.”

“No, she’s staying on. She’s felt really indebted to you ever since you allowed her time off to start the Global Association of Carbon Accountants, and she has no intention of leaving.”

“But can’t you continue to work from over there, as she will presumably? It was you who persuaded me to invest in our electronic-meeting room, after all. It must have saved us thousands in air-fares, not to mention all the stress and bother.”

“$201,500, and 800 tonnes.”

“What’s that?”

“The money and the carbon emissions we’ve saved by not flying.”

“That’s what I mean. You’re smart, like your uncle said you were. How much have we reduced our emissions since you joined us, and since you persuaded me to send you to the Climate Smart program?”

A 90% Reduction...

“Ninety percent. 20% by going to zero waste, 30% by switching our fleet to electric vehicles, 25% by retrofitting our buildings for far greater efficiency and joining the city’s district heat system, and 15% by reduced business travel, and because you persuaded almost all of our staff to go zero-carbon in the way they commute.”

“That’s pretty impressive, I must admit. How much do you reckon you’ve saved us?”

“Around half a million dollars a year. But it’s not me who should take the credit—it’s our relationship with Climate Smart.”

“Yea, yea. So why are you leaving—what’s the real reason? You got a better offer?”

I blushed—though I don’t like to admit it.

“Yes. The Cowichan Valley Regional District has hired me to head up its New Economy Initiative, to see if we can get the entire district to zero emissions by 2030—businesses, homes, farms, forests, transportation, heat, waste—the works. It was too good an offer to refuse. I’ll be taking a pay cut, but it’s the challenge I like. Climate Smart has agreed to form a partnership with the Regional District, and we’re planning to have every business in the region attend a training series in the first two years. It’s very exciting.”

“Well, I must say, I’m sorry to lose you. This climate thing—do you think it’ll blow over if every business could reduce its carbon pollution the way we have, and if every community does what it you’re about to do over there on the Island?”

“I’m afraid not. The climate scientists say it will take at least a hundred years before we get back to the pre-industrial level of carbon in the atmosphere, assuming the whole world goes zero-carbon, and every farm and forest changes the way it does things, so that they start absorbing carbon instead of producing it. But if everything goes to plan, we’ll be able to avoid the worst predictions. It’s still going to be an awfully turbulent ride for the rest of the century.”

“Well, we do what we can. Did I tell you that I’m going to take your advice and turn the company into a certified Benefit Corporation? It looks as if we’ll sail through the certification process, thanks to all the work you had us do.”

“I’m glad you’re happy. And it’s thanks to you that I’m married to Jessica—so I’m grateful too!”

“Well, off you go, young scamp. And make sure you invite me to your new baby ceremony, or whatever you’re planning!”

- Guy Dauncey 

Climate Smart Resources

Climate Smart is based at 90-425 Carrall Street, Vancouver. You can find them here, and at 604-254-6283 or 1-888-688-6283.

Climate Smart is offering a 20% discount to BCSEA members for its next two training sessions, beginning November 19 or December 10th. See the schedule here.

Accountants (CPAs, CGAs) who participate in Climate Smart may receive Certified Professional Development (12 credit hours) towards designations. Details here.

You can view the recent BCSEA Climate Smart Webinar: Solar Sauce and Zero-Carbon Coffee - BC's Food and Beverage Industry Can Save Money & Reduce Its Climate Impact? with Christine Van DerWill here.

Our Tropical Forest Garden and Homestead Update: One Year+ Later

Tour of our finished homestead. The forest garden is now a lush haven for humans and native wildlife. Our banana plants are around 9’-16’ high and producing nicely.

After a long delay, I’m posting another video about our homestead and forest garden. Everything is pretty much finished except small odds and ends. In summary, the project is a major success on many levels – personally, affordability goals, improved health from working in the garden and eating better, and just plain fun and rewarding. It’s great being in nature. It’s definitely been one of the best projects of my life.

Recycled wood raised beds produce an amazing bounty of fresh greens

Recycled wood raised beds produce an amazing bounty of fresh greens

Despite the clay soil in the garden and concerns of flooding, the forest garden is booming almost beyond belief. I’m used to struggling with gardens in Colorado’s harsh environment. Things are way different here! The banana plants are aout 9’-16’ high or even higher and producing nicely. The fruit trees that mostly started out as tiny ‘stick trees’ about 12”-18” high are now upwards of 5’-9’ high and some are already producing fruit. I attribute the success to our tropical climate, gradually adding about 10 truckloads (by hand) of topsoil, rice hulls, rice hull ash, chopped coconut husks, manure, lots of sugar cane compost (my favorite), and 1-2 bags of commercial bagged compost around each major fruit tree. Plus, the roots only have to go down about 2’ before they hit the original rice field and high water table that we built on top of. I still plan to add rock dust, although it’s been difficult to find. In the middle of the garden there’s already a sensation of being in a forest – there’s a hushed calm and profusion of growth everywhere. The garden is already a haven for wildlife – bees, wasps and hornets of all kinds, butterflies, salamanders and geckos, snakes, frogs, birds and bats. Our dogs love it too.

Added details that didn’t fit on the video:
– It’s much more difficult to do videos now that our videographer/photographer son is currently unavailable for making videos. Sorry for the delay.
-The dry season was a non-issue. Even though we get broiling temperatures for months without rain, our well provided all the water we needed. Very few plants suffered. I created a bowl around each tree and watered them every 2-3 days. The larger banana plants and the neighbor’s bamboo provided much needed shade.
– I’ve decided to not introduce worms from elsewhere after reading it’s best to improve the soil and encourage the native worms to multiply naturally. And as reported previously (search our blog for earlier posts) I’m definitely not going to raise worms. It’s better and easier to improve the soil and let the worms increase naturally. (The worms in our garden are enormous!)
-We added recycled wood raised garden beds on two sides of two of the forest garden beds for leafy greens such as kale, spinach, mustard greens and celery. The amount of food produced was incredible. (The soil is resting now during the rainy season.) For a good while I was practically living on baby greens and microgreens of different kinds. Clearly, a garden this size can produce more than enough food for a 5-person household with extra produce to sell or share with friends. Eventually the old boards (scrap wood from the house) will be removed as the garden matures into a more wild state.
-The road base raised bed experiment is not recommended. There’s too much gravel in the soil for my liking. What we did elsewhere is more effective.
-Don’t sweat the small stuff. A few trees will likely die no matter what, especially if you’re planting tiny starter trees. That’s the most vulnerable stage. Some of ours only cost 50 cents or even less. It’s quick and easy to pop in a new tree since the tree hole in the clay subsoil is already dug.
-Sugar cane compost is highly recommended. After sitting several months, the compost attracts worms and gets filled with root hairs. Obviously the plants love it.
-We’re gradually adding small plants such as mint, basil, onions, chives, chili, celery, pumkin and flowers around the fruit trees to create plant guilds. Most prefer to be on the shady side of the tree during the first year.
-We’ve planted three kinds of beans and other ground covers to good effect. The runner type is longer lasting and tends to strangle the smaller trees. They’re key soil builders and easy to grow. The bees love the blossoms and it’s a little sad chopping them down at that stage.
-We trimmed our mulberry trees and planted over 100 8” pieces from the branches. The ends were cut at an angle and we just stuck them in the ground, that’s all. Almost all lived to my surprise. The perimeter of our garden will likely become a wall of mulberry trees this next year. They grow like weeds here and produce a lot of delicious fruit. We’ll cut them off 1’ from the base every year so they don’t get too big.
-I’m not keen on using more manure. A relative experienced major loss from adding too much manure. It’s very concentrated and so plants can grow too fast and become spindly and weak. Manure also introduces thousands of weed seeds that create lots of extra work. Even though we get manure from friends and relatives who raise grass fed cattle, the problems it causes makes using questionable unless it’s first broken down in a compost heap.
-The largest problem was too much water during last year’s monsoon season. The trees had just been planted and excess water built up in some low areas. Pretty much every tree that died or was stunted were in these low areas. Since then the garden beds have been raised several inches with the soil amendments listed above and the soil is looking very good.
-The trees and plants in the garden are now growing at a crazy rate. Some fruit trees are growing 6”-12” per month. Sweet potato vines are taking over large swaths of the garden including pathways. Tree branches are leaning over the pathways. That’s part of the plan. Another year or two and the garden will likely become wild looking as a natural balance develops between plants.
-Advice for others who want to build a tropical forest garden: even though we were warned by multiple experts not to add too many amendments at first (so as not to create a saturated sponge), I suggest adding 2”-3” of topsoil, plus rock dust and possibly some decomposed rice hulls to loosen the clay soil before starting. In other words, do some initial soil building before planting to reduce wheel-barrowing, and add more soil amendments gradually in the future. Mound the beds for good drainage. This approach should not waterlog the young plants as we’d been warned and would have saved a couple hundred hours of manual labor.

More videos on my YouTube channel Low Cost, Self-Sufficient Homestead

Our Tropical Forest Garden and Homestead Update: One Year+ Later is a post from: Natural Building Blog

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Altai Straw Bale Project

Strawbale construction gains popularity in the frozen north.

Strawbale construction gains popularity in the frozen north.

“In August 2008 we saw ourselves back on the plane to Siberia. This was our second trip as a group of builders and teachers to this far and exotic place we now consider our most remote home away from home. Paul Koppana (Crestone, CO), Cindy Smith (Durango, CO) and myself, Jeff Ruppert (McKinleyville, CA) were much more comfortable this time traveling half-way around the globe having made a trip for the same reasons back in the summer of 2005.

We were to teach and transfer our knowledge and skills building a straw bale structure to a group of eager folks near the city of Barnaul. While the goals were similar, the region and our sponsors the same (The Altai Project, Builders Without Borders), the exact location and the participants for this year were very different. We looked forward to meeting everyone and seeing some old faces from our previous trip. This is the story of our time in Southern Siberia in 2008.”

Read more at Altai

Altai Straw Bale Project is a post from: Natural Building Blog

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Basalt Reinforced Domes

I’m not a fan of concrete monolithic domes, but the use of basalt roving reinforcement is an interesting technique that could be used with other building methods. It’s very strong and doesn’t rust. Consider using it in hurricane and earthquake zones.

“We use basalt roving for EcoShells. This is the scaled down uninsulated version. The dome on the video is demo only. It is 10 foot diameter. We often build through 40 foot diameter. For most of the housing in developing countries we build from 20 feet diameter to 40 foot (6m to 13m). We use this size also for medical clinics, schools, etc.”


Basalt Reinforced Domes is a post from: Natural Building Blog

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