Canada launches Smart Cities Challenge

On November 23, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities officially announced the Smart Cities Challenge. The challenge is open to all communities in Canada, including “municipalities, regional governments and Indigenous communities (First Nations, Métis and Inuit). The Challenge encourages communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology.

The Smart Cities Challenge

Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Across the country, communities large and small are bursting with new ideas. As Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, I have been privileged to meet with leaders from coast-to-coast-to-coast and hear their bold and innovative plans to improve the quality of life for their residents. Through the Smart Cities Challenge, we will help bring these ideas and plans to life, and find solutions that achieve real and positive outcomes.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also discussed the Smart Cities concept while at Google’s Go North event in Toronto. Speaking specifically to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs plan to turn an unused “portion of Toronto’s waterfront into a new model city of the future.”

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Canadians have a tendency to travel, Trudeau said, and that results in a global outlook on how cities work and their different approaches to things like traffic and how people live in urban environments. The new waterfront project gives Canadians “amazing opportunity to innovate or leapfrog” in urban innovation, since existing cities grew organically into what they are and how they work, for better or for worse, but the new smart city area won’t “be built on the bones of past failure and past successes,” but will instead be developed from a clean slate.

13 goals for a more sustainable Canada

Canada’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy includes 13 broad goals for the country:

  • Effective action on climate change
  • Low-carbon government
  • Clean growth
  • Modern and resilient infrastructure
  • Clean energy
  • Healthy coasts and oceans
  • Pristine lakes and rivers
  • Sustainably managed lands and forests
  • Healthy wildlife populations
  • Clean drinking water
  • Sustainable food
  • Connecting Canadians with nature
  • Safe and healthy communities

So while the U.S. Federal Government strips references to climate change from Department of Energy websites and welcomes Canada’s leaky Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, Canada is actively working toward a more sustainable future for its citizens.

It’s Summer Time Miami!

A summer-time PSA from the folks over at EnergyStar.gov: Is it time for a new EnergyStar pool pump?

ENERGY STAR certified pool pumps save money, save energy, and protect the climate. See how much your pool pump could be costing you in energy bills, learn when it might be time for new pool pump, and get the benefit of all the available savings when you choose ENERGY STAR.


Make a Savings Splash with a New Pool Pump

Check Out Miami Science Barge’s Sustainable Fishing Series: Filleting Skills – April 8, 11:30 – 1:00

Workshop B of the Miami Science Barge Sustainable Fishing Series will focus on fish filleting skills in an attempt to reduce waste during the fish cleaning process. A local charter fishing captain will be on-board to lead the knife skills session. Barge crew will discuss and educate on the importance of eating locally, choosing seafood from sustainable sources, and where to find this information. Attendees must purchase at least one fish to participate but are welcome to purchase more than one if interested!

 

This is the second workshop in a series sponsored by Fish Florida. All participants must be over the age of 13 to participate and must sign a waiver (or have a parent/guardian sign a waiver) at the door. Participants under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

When: April 8, 2017; 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Where: Miami Science Barge @ Museum Park, 1075 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33132
Cost: $10.00
RSVP: Eventbrite

Health First: Reimagining the Conversation on Sustainability

Could a greater awareness of our own health become the catalyst for transforming the way we think about the wellbeing of our planet?

That is the question Paulette Frank, Vice President of Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability at Johnson & Johnson asks in this video from the Sustainable Brands 2016 Copenhagen summit

Today, people are thinking about their personal health and wellness unlike any other time in history. Readily-available nutrition and health information, as well as innovations such as wearable technology have made it easier for people to make well-being part of their daily routine, giving them the power to monitor their own health and feel empowered to achieve their personal health goals. Breakthroughs in information gathering, research, and treatment are taking healthcare out of the doctor’s office, and making it a part of daily life. As a company that aspires to deliver better health to the world, Johnson & Johnson has embraced this societal shift and used it to reconsider its vision around global citizenship and sustainability. Could a greater awareness of our own health become the catalyst for transforming the way we think about the wellbeing of our planet? Paulette Frank, VP of Sustainability and Environmental Health & Safety will discuss Johnson & Johnson’s 2020 vision of integrating planetary health with human health and how the company is sharing that vision to inspire consumers.

National Green Week 2017

National Green Week kicks off this week and runs through the end of April. Yes, I know that’s more than a week. The idea behind this annual campaign from the Green Education Foundation is to encourage schools to devote (at least) one week during this period to sustainability topics.

“By participating in National Green Week, students will learn that simple decisions such as the selection of waste-free snacks and drinks can combat monumental environmental problems,” says Victoria Waters, President and Founder, Green Education Foundation. “Children are in the best position to impact the future of our environment by developing green behaviors that become lifelong habits,” adds Waters.

The national non-profit organization offers educators free K-12 sustainability activities, videos, lessons and projects in six broad “sustainability themes”; and the lesson plans are arranged by subject and by grade level.

I Ride Green

The central goal of I Ride Green is to inspire families and individuals to develop lifelong habits for sustainable transportation and eco-travel that promote the health of the environment, the economy, and people. I Ride Green invites participants to start easy-to-adopt green habits that can lead to lifelong healthy behaviors.

Green Energy Challenge

The Green Energy Challenge is an academic year-long program that calls on schools to improve their energy efficiency through simple changes in habit. Participation includes free tools to teach and encourage behavior change, such as curricula, audits, and classroom activities. In 2011, over 250,000 students took on the role of energy auditors in their schools and homes and implemented changes that resulted in thousands of dollars in energy cost savings within just a few months.

Green Thumb Challenge

The Green Thumb Challenge connects children with nature through gardening while providing teachers the curriculum to incorporate sustainable gardening as a teaching tool in the classroom. The “turn-key” garden plan provides participants with beginner-friendly resources to plant gardens of any size, as well as fun activities and standards-based lessons.

Sustainable Water Challenge

The Sustainable Water Challenge aims to educate schools and groups on the current issues in water sustainability and the steps we need to take to help conserve Earth’s most precious resource. Through GEF’s resources, K-12 students and educators will learn the basic properties of water, water pollution and depletion, as well as methods for water conservation. The Sustainable Water Challenge provides information on a broad range of water topics for all grade levels. As students and educators become more aware and knowledgeable of the challenges facing Earth’s water supply, we can work together and do our part to reduce water consumption.

Waste Reduction Challenge

This program empowers students to be leaders of their own waste reduction campaign in their school or community. Schools chose any week between the first week in February through Earth Day to be their Green Week. During this time, schools adopt sustainability curriculum and participate in GEF eco-challenge programs. In 2011, over five million students mobilized to reduce waste, energy and water and green their school.

Green Building Program

The GEF Green Building Program educates K-12 students on green building attributes and benefits, and provides them with the strategies to take steps toward improving environmental inefficiencies within their own school building. Through lessons, audits, and activities students will cover topics including water and energy efficiency and environmental quality as they relate to building construction, operation and maintenance.

The Green Education Foundation worked with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools, numerous LEED accredited professionals and other experts in educational and sustainability fields to create the sustainability education materials. And while the National Green Week Challenge is GEF’s best known program, they have created an online community for teachers to provide feedback, share experiences, and even upload their own materials. If you are, or know, a teacher interested in sustainability, I highly recommend visiting the Green Education Foundation’s website, and participating in the National Green Week challenge.

New Miami Beach Law Requires LEED Gold for New Buildings

Effective April 1st, the City of Miami Beach is requiring all new construction 7,000 square feet or more to meet or exceed LEED Gold standards… or pay an impact pay a fee equal to 5 percent of the construction costs. The idea is to force builders to address – one way or the other – the very real effects of climate change already being felt on Miami Beach.

South Beach flooding (photo courtesy:  Wikimedia Commons)
South Beach flooding (photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

As Miami Herald columnist Joey Flechas notes, Miami Beach will benefit whether the developers choose to build ‘green’ or to pay the fee:

That’s a big chunk of money. If the city had been collecting that fee for the last six years, it would have about $60 million to spend on green projects like water quality monitoring, cleanup of contamination and charging stations for electric vehicles.

Betsy Wheaton, the city’s environment and sustainability director, told the Miami Herald the city wants to build a fund specifically for sustainability projects like building permeable pavements and improving the Beach’s tree canopy. As the city continues an ambitious, $400 million anti-flooding pump program to combat rising tides, she also envisions incorporating green elements, like reintroduction of mangroves, into seawall projects for stemming sea level rise.

The City of Miami currently requires all new development of more than 50,000 square feet to be built to LEED Silver standards, while Miami-Dade County requires all new county buildings to obtain LEED Silver certification.

Bluegala Talks About Green Fashion

Bluegala is a New York company specializing in prom and evening dresses. They’ve started a fashion blog and, with the help of Gergich & Co., have created this excellent infographic – “Eco-fashion: The Green Garment Movement.” Bluegala writes:

Many name brand companies are incorporating eco-fashion into their lines by producing their clothing using methods that create a minimal carbon footprint without the use of harmful or synthetic chemicals. From Adidas apparel made with bionic yard, a textile made from plastic debris in the sea, to Burberry’s sustainable cotton program in Peru—explore which brands are leading the way into the green garment movement by positively impacting the environment.

Courtesy of: Bluegala

Coral Gables Museum Receives Grant to Expand Green City Program

Coral Gables Museum,  285 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon AV, Coral Gables, FL

The Coral Gables Museum announced that it “has received a $200,000 grant from the State of Florida’s Department of Education to expand its Green City Program and provide it at no cost to all K-12 students in Miami-Dade County.”

The Green City Program is dedicated to the practice and purpose of teaching future generations about designing communities with the principles of environmental sustainability. It introduces students to important disciplines such as architecture, landscape architecture, design, urban planning as well as historic and environmental preservation and sustainable development.

The program curriculum explores everything from what one can do at home to decrease their carbon footprint, to how to design a LEED-certified building or a green city. Students of all ages will learn about environmentally friendly design through presentations and tours. There will also be experiential learning activities that will teach students about the relationship between the built and natural environment and will further their understanding of worldwide environmental threats and how sustainable design can be a solution to those challenges.

“The future of our planet and the cultural, environmental and social vitality of our communities depend on our youth,” said Christine Rupp, Director of the Coral Gables Museum. “Thanks to this grant, the expanded Green City Program will now be a free educational program to K-12 students in Miami, giving them the tools to make important decisions about the design and livability of their communities.”

From its beginning, the Coral Gables Museum has been has been a local green leader.  Using the principle that the greenest building is often the one already built, the Coral Gables Museum restored the historic 1939 Police and Fire Station, using the building’s original materials and the new wings achieved LEED certification. Part of the museum’s mission is to provide an “educational platform for visitors and students to learn about green design and practical solutions for a more sustainable community.” Included in their upcoming events:

  • “Effects of Everglades Restoration on Sea Level Rise Resilience in Urban Miami” panel discussion
  • “Designing the Resilient City” panel discussion
  • “Socio-ecological Vulnerability and Resilience in Miami-Dade” panel discussion
  • Dr. Harold Wanless on Rising Sea Levels
  • Miami 2100: Envisioning a Resilient Second Century – Exhibit

This $200,000 grant will allow the museum to hire experts to teach classes and conduct tours around the theme of “Green Cities”. Hired by the museum:

· Carmen L. Guerrero, licensed architect, Associate Professor in Practice, and Academic Coordinator of Explorations in Architecture at University of Miami, will serve as the curriculum consultant for the Green City Program.

· Kiki Mutis, who has developed environmental education programs for Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, Citizens for a Better South Florida and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, will lead native garden design activities for elementary school students.

· David Rifkind, professor at Florida International University’s College of Architecture and the Arts, will provide personal tours of his acclaimed green home to middle and high school students.

· Jaime Correa, Associate Professor in Practice at the University of Miami, will provide tours of the current exhibit Miami 2100: Envisioning a Resilient Second Century and provide presentations to middle and high school students on designing urban solutions for climate change and sea level rise.

If you would like to register your school for the Green City Program, please contact Dianely Cabrera or Ashley Montano at (305) 603-8067 or e-mail education@coralgablesmuseum.org.

Freedom in Nature: Waves Above the Horizon

Canopy at Eco-Couture Fashion Show at FIU in March
Canopy at Eco-Couture Fashion Show at FIU in March

There’s still time to RSVP for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Art Week reception this week.

Join USGBC Miami and a coalition of several other environmental organizations to preview the Freedom in Nature: Waves Above the Horizon installation as part of Freebee’s “FREEDOM” Experiment. This is the first free, collaborative, eco-installation at Art Basel Miami! Come engage in an interactive experience allowing visitors to not only see, hear, smell, and touch, but to actually take part in the masterpiece!Various community artists have found unique ways to pull elements from the waste stream and repurpose them with other materials, sound, and lighting to create an oceanic ambiance.

One of the installations is being created from hundreds of discarded plastic grocery bags. Teams of volunteers have worked for weeks to assemble the canopy called “Waves Above The Horizon.” The exhibit will be featured during the first of a five-day series by FREEDOM in Wynwood. Each day of the series will celebrate “interpretations of artistic expressions, aiming to define the meaning behind freedom.”

Here’s the FREEDOM full line-up:

Tuesday, December 2nd: LAUNCH OF FREEDOM VIP PREVIEW RECEPTION (Invitation Only)

Wednesday, December 3rd: FREEDOM IN NATURE (Free Event; RSVP Required)

Thursday, December 4th: FREEDOM TO BE DIFFERENT (25th ST. ENTRANCE)

Thursday, December 4th: FREEDOM TO HIP HOP (24th ST. ENTRANCE)

Friday, December 5th: LIBERTAD

Saturday, December 6th: ELECTRIC FREEDOM

Sunday, December 7th: SIMPLY FREEDOM

USGBC Waves_Flyer_sm

FREEDOM gallery with be open to the public with FREE admission from December 4 through December 7 during Miami’s Art Week.

The U.S. Green Building Council program for FREEDOM IN NATURE begins at 7:00 p.m. on December 3rd. Registration is at 6:00 p.m. (with a free drink before 7:00), and the reception begins at 8:00. RSVP FOR WEDNESDAY EVENING’S EVENT HERE

Come learn about ways you can make small changes that will create a big difference! Enjoy an evening of GreenWorking, beverages, light snacks, and good company and be one of the first to see this new and exciting exhibit before it opens to the public for Art Basel!

Every School Should Have A Garden

Grow Food Not Lawns - Every School Should Have a Garden

Love this graphic from Grow Food Not Lawns and it reminded me of a Miami Herald article I read earlier this year about Leewood K-8 Center public school in Miami.

Seventh-grade science teacher, Angela Holbrook, started the project with her class August 2012. They planted an organic food garden near their classroom, and students from all grade levels help with the tending and harvesting.

Holbrook taught her students how to irrigate plants by collecting rainwater in barrels and keep pests under control by bringing in ladybugs.

Fenced in using colorful wooden frames, twelve rectangular soil beds house the vegetables and fruits of the class’s labor – tomatoes, strawberries, cabbages, broccoli and several other leafy greens.

Produce from the garden is used in the school’s cafeteria or donated to the local food banks.

So if you agree that every school should have a garden similar to Miami’s Leewood K-8 Center, check out Grow Food Not Lawn’s Facebook page, and “like” the idea.

And if you know of another school in Miami-Dade that has its own food garden, send me an email or comment below. I would love to feature them in future blog posts.