Clean Break
Tyler Hamilton is the Editor-in-Chief of Corporate Knights Magazine. Prior to joining the magazine, Hamilton spent 10 years as a business columnist at the Toronto Star. Hamilton is also the author of the book Mad Like Tesla.

Raising the standard on sustainable cities

Toronto-based organization leads efforts to grow an ISO standard for city data.

Corporate Knights has ranked cities based on their sustainability performance for several years, but each time it has been a challenge finding data that is even roughly comparable.

It’s not just a problem when examining cities located in different countries. Even within Canada, cities often report data in different ways. The most basic indicators, such as air quality and public transit use, are tracked by Environment Canada and Statistics Canada and easily accessible. But try finding out about cycling and green building infrastructure, or even something as simple as energy use per capita, and city data is a mixed bag of apples and oranges – with strawberries, pears and bananas thrown in to make life more difficult.

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With coal plants now shuttered, OPG moves to embrace solar power

Ontario enters new territory by letting the province's power giant bid on large non-hydro renewable energy projects.

For the first time in its history Ontario Power Generation is preparing bids as part of the province’s next round of competitive procurement for renewable energy. And in another first, its foray into the world of competitive bidding will start with three solar power projects totaling up to 120 megawatts, Corporate Knights has learned.

Ironically, OPG is proposing to build two of those projects on the sites of coal-fired power plants recently taken out of service – up to 50 megawatts at the Nanticoke Generating Station in Haldimand County, and up to 30 megawatts at Lambton Generating Station near Sarnia.

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Washington, Toronto were N.A. green roof leaders in 2014: Report

Of total green roof area installed in 2014, Toronto accounted for 14 per cent, more than Chicago and New York City combined.

Toronto installed the highest square footage of green rooftops last year than any other Canadian city, and was second in North America behind Washington, D.C., according to a report from non-profit industry association Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC).

Of the 5,537,240 square feet of green roofs installed in 2014, Toronto contributed about 775,000 square feet – or about 14 per cent of the total. Put another way, the area coverage of Toronto installations last year exceeded the combined efforts of Chicago and New York City, which ranked fourth and fifth place, respectively.

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Jane Goodall, Robert Bateman commiserate about a planet in despair

VIDEO: Youth, technology, and resilience of the human spirit give two icons of the environmental movement reason to hope.

Ask chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall for an example of how nature can be resilient, she surprises her Canadian audience with one simple word: Sudbury.

“If you look at pictures of what it was like in the old days, with copper and tin mining, it was devastation. It was terrible. I heard people couldn’t breath,” she says, speaking at a closed-door event held recently in Toronto. Sitting beside her was close friend and internationally renowned wildlife artist Robert Bateman.

“To get to the outhouse, they would have to tie a rope from the house to the outhouse and follow it on really bad days.”

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The dirtier the coal power, the quicker the death

Preventing the worst of climate change means subcritical coal stations will be first to go. How vulnerable is your portfolio?

There’s a hierarchy in the fossil fuel world, particularly when looked at through the lens of climate change and urban air pollution.

Many know that coal is the worst and natural gas is the best, and that somewhere in between lies oil. But if we drill down into each fossil fuel source, it’s clear emissions that result from burning these fuels vary widely depending on the inherent dirtiness of the end-market fuel and the efficiency of the power plant or engine that consumes it.

For example, explains a 2013 report in Scientific American, “producing and processing tar sands oil results in roughly 14 per cent more greenhouse-gas emissions than the average oil used in the U.S.” – though that’s a generous assessment compared to some other estimates that goes as high as 37 per cent.

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