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Don't Waste Wood LogoThis week, Pondstone launched the newly redesigned dontwastewood.com.

The “Don’t Waste Wood” campaign, by the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), promotes the benefits, both environmental and financial, of diverting wood waste from landfills.

The site features a substantial resource library for policy-makers, a toolkit for members of the construction and demolition industries, and information for architects.

In addition to showcasing various markets for wood waste, the site explores the financial feasibility of deconstruction vs. demolition. All information is available to the general public, including links to companies providing deconstruction services or making use of reclaimed wood in their products.

The new site is built on WordPress and includes a look-up feature that provides both Canadian and American users with a list of wood waste haulers, sellers or buyers within a specified radius of their postal code or zip code.

Check out http://www.dontwastewood.com

Gary Chang, a Hong Kong archiect, has transformed his childhood home from a cramped three room bedroom apartment into a luxurious space with innovative design.

Full video explanation, check it:

From Wired, more here.

-Jessie W.

Paint has not been applied, nor Photoshop engaged – this tree is all natural and totally wicked

The Eucalyptus deglupta, more commonly known as the ‘rainbow tree’ for obvious reasons, is worthy of a post if for no other reason that aesthetics.

From Environmental Graffiti: “the Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta) or Mindanao Gum is the only species of Eucalyptus tree found in the northern hemisphere. As if that weren’t extraordinary enough, the up to 70-m tall tree also shines in the colours of the rainbow: its bark can take on a yellow, green, orange and even purple shading!”

The tree’s unusual colouring is a result of patches of the bark shedding periodically, thus showing the age of the bark. “Freshly shedouter bark will reveal the bright green inner bark. This darkens over time and changes from blue to purple and then reaches orange and maroon tones.”

“Pulpwood’s here to stay though as it is considered a source of green energy, and demand has increased over the last few years. Currently though, trees cultivated specifically for pulp production account for only 16% of world pulp production. About 9% comes from old growth forests and the remaining 75% from second-, third- and more generation forests.” While it may be a waste of tree years for some pulpwood, the reforestation effort of specifically this tree is increasing, making the rainbow tree a source of renewable energy.

Given how awesome these trees are, it is a shame that they are only cultivated in New BritainNew GuineaCeramSulawesiMindanao and the Philippines.

-Jessie W.

How social media is creating green forums for sustainable, green engagement.

Environment activism, like social media, is an interactive activity requiring on- and offline engagement. Given how powerful a tool the internet has become in creating and sustaining broad-based networks, it works to the advantage of environmentally-conscious activists to engage the medium to create a ripple-effect of awareness.  These forums allow the opportunity to connect online with like-minded people for a variety of purposes, from business growth to political or environmental activism.

The problem, of course, arises in the transition from vibrant online communities to real, in person results. Yet, in the words of WebEcoist, the “dedicated and curious greenie can glean a lot from participation in niche environmental forums. And voting and sharing on green social news sites is a terrific way to fill out your green social web experience.” And as engagement and education are always the first steps of any movement, the abundance of these online forums make the sometimes daunting task of environmental stewardship slightly less cumbersome.

The following ten platforms integrate environmental activism with social media’s networking capabilities (all site descriptions are courtesy of The WebEcoist, more information available here).

1.) Sustainable Design Forum

Architecture fans and geeks alike will not want to miss this seriously smart forum for true buffs and industry experts. Featuring “news and resources for sustainable design in architecture, development and construction,” this site also also shares great op-eds from thought leaders and top builders and designers.

2.) EcoUrls

The brand-new ecourls.com (still in beta) was created by top green bloggers and social media contributers to promote exceptionally high quality green news and information. You can visit the site and sign up to meet other green bloggers, social media users and find some excellent content. Though just starting, so far the site looks very promising, with an emphasis on content over flashy design or cluttered features.

3.) Change.org

Change.org is a clear, simple activist forum with an interesting format: you type the change you want to see in the world and the site guides you to a relevant project, organization or issue. Or choose from the most common changes on the main page. The coolest part about Change is that you can create your own organization (they’re called “Changes”) and get others in the community involved. A great place to connect with people and nonprofits that care about the future of the world and its inhabitants.

4.) Carbonrally

If competition gets your blood pumping, this is the place for you. Rather than supporting and connecting with other green minded people, you compete with them. It’s a fun, original concept and though it’s new seems to have a good base of users participating. Compete on teams with those in your real-world community or online pals against other teams on the site. Will you join the Royal Acorns? Looks like they’re the underdogs.

5.) Rate It Green

It’s pretty straightforward: you join, you rate. This is a well-crafted and easy to use green forum for environmentally-friendly building product ratings; like Consumer Reports for green building. Whether you are starting from scratch or retro-fitting your current pad this is a good resource.

6.) Green Options

Home to many of the best green blogs online, this green network also has forums. Not as populous or deep as Treehugger but definitely worth participation, particularly if you feel overwhelmed by the bigger forums. Connect with others and discuss all kinds of green issues at Green Options.

7. Responsible World Citizen

This Ning thing is thriving. Ning – basically a community platform for creating your own social network – is a hit and grows daily. If you read blogs like Triple Pundit, work in green business, or simply care about the future bottom line, then Responsible World Citizen’s “sustainable conscious business community” is for you.

8. Planet Green

Planet Green, brought to you by Discovery and tightly partnered with Treehugger, has launched new forums. They aren’t very active yet but the content on Planet Green is high-quality and the membership so far at the forums is a good crowd. Try it out.

9. The Environment Site

Purely green discussions ranging from tech to energy to politics to health can be found at this thoughtful and calm forum. Sincere members weigh in from all over the world on a number of environmental topics. A recent thread asks: “Can you be a capitalist and environmentalist at the same time?”

10. Arch

The Arch design community features over a dozen well-populated and active architecture and design forums, including green. A must-stop for anyone into technical design, engineering, green architecture and more.

If your business or organization wants to know more about using social media for a specific purpose, drop us a line at either jwillms@pondstone.ca or amiron@pondstone.ca.

-Jessie W.

Earth Day is this Thursday, April 22, the annual even to celebrate our shared planet. What began forty years ago by the American Senator Gaylord Nelson as a teaching mechanism on the imoprtance of environmental stewardship.

With Earth Day quickly approaching, we’ve complied a quick guide on where to go and what to do in Ottawa this Thursday (from Apt 613, full post here.)

The EnviroCentre is a non-profit organization that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by delivering energy-efficient goods and services. The Center will host an Sustainable Transportation Fair from 11am to 2pm on April 22. Participants will learn about sustainable transportation options – including car sharing, cycling and even air travel – as well as workplace program. There will also be free refreshments as well as a chance to will $300 in VIA Rail travel, Shell gas for carpooling and a cycling package.

If you like a little shopping with your environmental activism, head on down to one of the two Ten Thousand Villages locations (1174 Bank Street and 371 Richmond Road) for their Earth Day Fundraiser for Ecology Ottawa. On Thursday April 22nd, the store will donate 10% of sales toEcology Ottawa. Volunteers from the City Hall lobby group will be on hand to discuss Ecology Ottawa’s work in making Ottawa the environmental capital of Canada.

On Saturday, April 24, Earth Day Ottawa and the Museum of Nature (240 McLeod St) are wrapping up Earth Week with a mini-Folk Fest. Ankle biters rule from 11am to 1pm with a kids concert featuring Keith Shackleton, Michel-André Vallières and No Name in Sight. From 1:30 to 4:00pm adults will be serenaded by the dulcet tones of local folk musicians Kate and Hollis, John Hanson, Kristine St. Pierre and Missy Burgess. Aside from the music, there will be free cookies, an awards show and an ecological kiosks exhibition.

The Ottawa Eco-Stewardship Fair, a celebration of  green living ideas, products & services, is also taking place this Saturday from 10am to 5pm at the RA Center (2451 Riverside Drive). The fair will feature over 100 local businesses, non-profit organisations and governments, all showcasing environmental and sustainable products and services. In addition, there will be a chance to sample some of the best in local wine and beer, while enjoying the unique and creative pieces by area eco-artists. New this year is a Bicycle Festival with bike safety and repair demonstrations. There’s also food involved:  local chef Jacqueline Jolliffe of the Red Apron will be giving a demonstration, while RA Centre Chef Darcy Ryman will be preparing a 100 Mile Lunch.

The Ottawa Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is organizing a guided hike in the Forêt-la-Blanche Ecological Reserve. The reserve was established in 2003 to protect a great diversity of plant life representative of the Outaouais region.  The hike will last about 2 hours, and will be suitable for all ages and skill levels. Please bring all necessary gear (such as your camera!). There is a discounted admission fee, $4 per person, for all of those attending the CPAWS hike. To learn more about the Forêt-la-Blanche, click here.  If you are interested in carpooling, please email John McDonnell: jmcdonnell@cpaws.org.

As a part of the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival, a discussion on Sustainable Capitalism/The Big Idea: Locavore. The topic is How Canadians Are Changing the Way We Eat with Sarah Elton, hosted at the Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street.  Tickets are $15 General admission or  $10 Students/seniors. (More information here.)

Foodies,100-milers, urbanites, farmers, gardeners and chefs across Canada are creating a new local food order that has the potential to fight climate change and feed us all. Sarah Elton, the food columnist for CBC Radio’s Here & Now, lays out a blueprint for a local food revolution. Join us for an insider’s look at the burgeoning local food movement taking place in Canadian cities, farms and shops that is changing both the way we eat and the way we think about food.

Know of any other Earth Day celebrations around Ottawa that shouldn’t be missed? Leave the details in the  comment or drop me a line (jwillms@pondstone.ca).

Happy Earth Day!

-Jessie W.

Earth Hour, which was celebrated for the third time this past Saturday, is a global event to raise awareness about the planet by collectively turning off the lights. According to the Earth Hour site, the event is a “call to action to every individual, every business and every community throughout the world. It is a call to stand up, to take responsibility, to get involved and lead the way towards a sustainable future.” More importantly, it serves to remind us all of “the one thing we all have in common – our planet.”

With more than 120 countries and millions of people participating, Earth Hour aims to highlight the big impact that can be made by very small changes. Indeed, it was estimated that overall energy usage in Ottawa alone dropped by 6% during the hour, while Nova Scotia reported an 18-megawatt reduction in power consumption – equivalent to more than 1.4 million 13-watt compact florescent light bulbs.

Here are some great before and after images, from Boston.com.

Parliament Hill, dimmed:

Sydney, before:

Sydney, during Earth Hour:

Vegas, before:

Vegas, during Earth Hour:

Did you celebrate Earth Hour? If so, how?

- Jessie W.

A long-awaited feature for the popular and extremely useful Google Maps.

screen shot bike biker route google maps

From Wired, full article here.

With the click of a mouse, the new feature allows you to plot the best (and flattest!) ride from Point A to Point B. Several cities, including New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, have bike-specific mapping sites. But Google is rolling it out in 150 cities nationwide and announcing it Wednesday at the 10th Annual Bike Summit in Washington, D.C.

“This has been a top-requested feature from Google Maps users for the last couple years,” says Shannon Guymon, product manager for Google Maps. “There are over 50,000 signatures on a petition.”

The news thrilled bike advocates, who have for years been pushing — and petitioning — the search giant to include bike routes on Google Maps. No longer do they have to rely upon paper maps or open-source DIY map hacking or crazy-cool helmet-mounted heads up iPhones.

“This new tool will open people’s eyes to the possibility and practicality of hopping on a bike and riding,” says Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “We know people want to ride more, we know it’s good for people and communities when they do ride more — this makes it possible. It is a game-changer, especially for those short trips that are the most polluting.”

Cyclists will have to map their victory lap from their desks, because Google’s cool mapping tool is available only on a computer for now.

“Making the bike-route tool available on Google Maps for mobile devices is a high priority,” Guymon says. But it’s a priority without a launch date.

To create the mapping tool, Google developed an algorithm that uses several inputs — including designated bike lanes or trails, topography and traffic signals — to determine the best route for riding. The map sends you around, not over, hills. But if you really want to tackle that Category 1 climb, you can click and drag the suggested route anywhere you like, just like you can with pedestrian or driving routes. Users can suggest changes or make corrections to routes using the ever-present “report a problem” feature on Google Maps.

bike route google maps adds new feature

Google kicked its bike-mapping effort into high gear in October when it started using improved datasets that provided more specific information about trails, street details and more granularity on college campuses. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy provided Google with information on 12,000 miles of bike trails nationwide, and the League of American Bicyclists helped gather data on bike lanes and so forth.

“We’ve got a five-person team in Seattle that has spent the majority of its time working on this project since October,” says Guymon.

To test the tool, bike-commuting Google employees vetted suggested routes against their own experience, pointing out discrepancies on routes or time allowances.

Google Maps for bikes has a unique look and feel. Bike trails are prime cycling turf — “They’re like the highways for cyclists,” Guymon says — so they’re indicated in dark green. Streets with dedicated bike lanes are light green. And streets that don’t have a bike lane but are still a decent route because of their topography, light traffic or other factors are indicated by dotted green lines.

Don’t go looking for turn-by-turn GPS-based navigation though. That feature remains strictly auto-centric.

For other interesting findings on the service, go here.

-Jessie W.

Planet from afar is stunningly beautiful, Blue Marbles true-colour shows

Original article and photos from the BBC, and can be found here.

NASA scientists have released two images which were composed utilizing the true colour imagery and a single remote-sensing device-NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS. As a result, the photos are the most detailed and most realistic of the planet that have been captured anywhere in the world to date.

From NASA’s Visible Earth, a catalogue for images and animation of the planet earth:

This spectacular “blue marble” image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet. These images are freely available to educators, scientists, museums, and the public. This record includes preview images and links to full resolution versions up to 21,600 pixels across.

NASA released these photos:

Nasa Blue Marble true-colour images planet

Nasa Blue Marble true-colour images planet

NASA also released a high-resolution Blue Marble animation of the planet, which can be found here.

It kinda makes you want to…

Break into song?

Yep.

- Jessie W.

Wednesdays, sometimes referred to as ‘hump days‘, are the middle of the working week, when Monday morning blues are but a distant memory and the bright lights of Friday nights are just out of reach. For me, Wednesdays are quite enjoyable: a little time here at the office, a lecture and the rest of the afternoon is mine. And usually, when I’m not bogged done by textbook reading, essay writing or lecture review, I spend my time in the blogosphere, Stumbling along or clicking ‘refresh’ to get the latest status updates on Facebook.

So I’ve decided to post some of my favourite links from my week so far, to help you get through these last days before the weekend.

Here are my top five favourite finds:

1.) Collect.Give: a non-profit photography collective which sells one print for two weeks with all proceeds going to support the Red Cross. This week: Max S. Gerber’s Mother Nature Doth Provide with proceeds benefiting the ongoing reconstruction in Haiti.

2.) ArtPad: basically a 2.0 version of Paint available on the net. Express yourself, then frame your piece and hang it in the Art Pad virtual gallery.

3.) Coffee in one of these mugs is bound to make the morning pass a little better.

4.) From All Eyes, images from around the world.

5.) This is a two-for-one. First, read the OK GO front man Damian Kulash opinion piece over at the New York Timeshere, in which he rightly argues that “Blogs, Web sites and video aggregators serve as cultural curators, daily collecting the items that will interest their audiences the most.” Then, hop over to YouTube to watch the band’s latest release and prepare to have your mind blown, just a little.

Hopefully some of these made your Wednesday morning wonderful,

- Jessie W.

Providing temporary relief for victims of hurricanes and earthquakes, SEED turns unused shipping containers into starter homes for emergency situations. The project was already underway when the recent tragedy hit Haiti, leading the group of Clemson University architecture professors (who’ve been developing it since the devastating Hurricane Katrina) to work to implement their plan sooner. Strong enough to withstand hurricanes or earthquakes, the containers make robust instant homes and guarantee some degree of safety from more activity, such as aftershocks.

Designed for living, the containers would arrive with strategic holes for light and air and would be outfitted with running water, a toilet and space for cooking. An unmodified container has 304 square feet of floor space (the size of many NYC apartments) and its flat roof expands its capabilities, being an excellent platform for gardening. To help jump-start the gardens and generate food quickly, each container would come with a 55-gallon drum already filled with dirt and plants.

Because Caribbean nations import more than they export, the region already has a surplus of unused shipping containers and constitutes a significant environmental impact. While the containers can be converted in just a few days and cost less than $5,000 to transform, it will probably take another six months before the project will ultimately be ready to implement.

via Coolhunting

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