Telling Tales

Hi Folks:

I haven’t told any stories on this blog for a while, and if I let them build up too long, well, it might not be pretty.  Actually, that reminds me of a technician I had working for me once.  Great technician, but every once in a while she’d just burst out giggling.  I asked her about it and she replied, “I don’t know.. they just build up!”  I’m the same way, except instead of giggling I start babbling.  Like now for instance.

Okay, on with show.  I’ve had the privilege of working over more than half of Canada (so far), and I’ve been involved with some really interesting projects and some wonderful people.  Sometime late in the last millenium I had two separate opportunities to work with black bears.  I’ve accumulated a number of bear stories that I carry around with me, and I thought I’d take a moment or two to share one of them.  In the first bear project on which I worked there were three main aspects to the work.  One aspect was to create a map of the habitat of the area, and another was to create a map of bear movements by using radio collars on certain bears.  In this way we could overlay the bears’ movements onto the map that we’d created so that we could try to interpret where the bears were going at different times of the year, and possibly why.  The third aspect of the work was the most ‘adventurous’, and that was dealing with the bears themselves.  In a nutshell we set out traps for the bears, and when a bear stepped into our trap s/he was anaesthetized, weighed, measured, and samples were taken to determine both the age and the health of the animal.  Yes this was potentially dangerous work, especially on occasions when we had a cub in the trap and his or her mother was less that 10 or 12 yards away and watching intently.  I must say up front that every precaution was taken to respect the health and integrity of both the bears and the staff, and every step was taken to minimize the stress caused by our interactions.  We did have some bears that seemed to find their way into our traps regularly, and there was some suspicion that maybe they liked the drugs…  Yes, that’s a joke, and no, the anaesthetics are neither narcotic nor addictive (just in case that one swept past you).

Continue Reading →

Being Green… Update

Hi Folks!  Friday has come around once again., so that makes it ‘Green Day’ here on our blog.  I took in two webinars this week, both kindly provided by the Building Technologies Program at the US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy division.

The first was the second part of a series on the ongoing efforts in Greensburg, KS.  In the spring of 2007 the town of Greensburg was nearly obliterated by a class 5 tornado, and when they decided to rebuild the town, the decision was made to rebuild it as a model of green building and green technologies.  Many different people, departments, governments and private industries have been and continue to be involved in this process.  I think it’s inspirational, and a good model to use for future rebuilding efforts when and if they should arrive.  The presentation slides from the second webinar as well as the slides from the first in the series and a video recording of the first presentation are available at the DOE, EERE website.  The next webinar in this series is expected in January, but I don’t have a firm date for that yet.

The second webinar I had a chance to see was titled ‘Activities and Programs Relating to Energy Efficiency Retrofits in Residential Buildings’.  While it may be true that the average homeowner is more aware of ‘green’ products today (i.e. solar panels, solar hot water, wind turbines, ground source heat pumps, etc.) it has been said over and over again that for most buildings in existence today the first steps should be to make those buildings more efficient.  This can be achieved in many ways – better windows, increased insulation, better weathersealing, etc.  This webinar addressed these issues and also the challenges faced by homeowners who have expressed an interest in pursuing these options, in three areas.  From the slides of this presentation:

  1. Access to Information: Consumers do not have access to straightforward and reliable information.
  2. Access to Financing: Homeowners face high upfront costs and are often unable to recoup the value of their investment.
  3. Access to Skilled Workforce: There is an insufficient amount of skilled workers to expand energy retrofit programs on a national level.

The slides from this webinar are also available at the EERE website; more information will be provided when it is available.

From the e-mails I received this week:

  1. The December 2009  issue of Environmental Building News is available here.
  2. The folks at ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) have made available a series of six ‘Advanced Energy Design Guides’.  There’s one for Small Healthcare Facilities, one for Highway Lodging, one for Small Warehouses and Self-Storage Buildings, one for Small Office Buildings, one for Small Retail Buildings and one for K-12 School Buildings.  The guides are in .pdf format and can be downloaded for free, but registration is required.  The guides can be found here.
  3. The latest e-newsletter from Green Building Advisor is available here.
  4. The latest Targeted e-News from Environmental Design + Construction (re: Energy Star) is available here.
  5. And finally (for now), the latest Eco-mmunity Greenzine bulletin from Sundance Channel is available here.
  6. The latest Healthy Building Network News is available here.

That’s about it for now, but before I sign out I want to add one more link to promote some folks I know at the Okanagan Science and Technology Council (OSTEC), specifically the ‘Clean Tech‘ group.

Have a great week, and if you have any links to share, leave a comment here!



Count Your Sheep