Cleantech and more

Hotels, Airbnb battle for green cred

Whether for leisure or business, more travelers are seeking accommodations that mesh with sustainable values.

Shipping container, recycled concrete pipe, or treetop – take your pick. Yes, this is an article about sustainable hospitality, and yes, the three strange options above are all types of hotels. A Days Inn hotel in Sioux Lookout, Northern Ontario, boasts of being the largest hotel in North America constructed with old shipping containers – 120 of them to be exact.

In Sweden’s Lule River Valley, a venture called Treehotel offers rooms that are suspended up to six metres from the ground within a tall pine forest, while Tubohotel in Tepoztlán, Mexico, uses massive recycled concrete pipes as the housing for its 20 rooms, stacked in pyramids of three.

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Turning city dogs into power providers, one poop at a time

By Tyler Hamilton
New York City is considering a plan to turn dog waste into energy.

Many livestock farmers have anaerobic digesters on the farm that turn chicken, cow and pig manure into methane, which is usually burned on-farm to generate electricity. In the city, wastewater management facilities often capture methane that results from the processing of human waste collected from the flush of toilets.

dogwaste3Walk to an urban dog park and it’s a different story. If you’re not stepping on a pile of poop, you’re likely picking a load of it up with a vanilla-scented plastic bag that’s typically tossed into the nearest (usually overflowing) garbage can.

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App watch: Carrot Rewards

By Tyler Hamilton
A new mobile app called Carrot Rewards uses the lure of points to encourage Canadians to participate in healthier lifestyles.

Canadians love their rewards programs and loyalty points, which can be redeemed for everything from movie passes to airline tickets. This obsession with collecting points is now being leveraged to help make Canadians healthier.

A new mobile app developed by Social Change Rewards, with funding support from the B.C. and federal governments, uses the lure of points to encourage Canadians to participate in healthier lifestyles. Points can be earned by letting the app nudge you in the right direction, whether that means reminding you to go to the gym for a workout or alerting you to a healthy recipe worth trying. You can also earn points by taking quizzes or reading articles, making this app – appropriately called Carrot Rewards – a powerful educational tool.

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Is Ontario destined to become a relic of the auto industry?

Judging by the province’s record on EV innovation and manufacturing, the future of its auto sector looks bleak.

Ben Faiola drives his Michigan-made Chevy Volt into his garage, turns it off and just walks away. Usually, he’d have to do what nearly all electric vehicle owners must do to start their next trip on a fully charged battery: plug the car into a wall charger.

Not Faiola. He’s one of a handful of people in Canada who has installed a wireless EV charging system called Plugless, developed by Richmond, Virginia-based Evatran Group. The system just sits on the floor of Faiola’s garage. All he has to do is drive over it with the help of a wall-based unit that uses light signals to guide him in like an airplane on a runway.

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ATCO envisions big hydro push in Alberta

It’s a great idea, which could be even better by including wind, solar and geothermal.

Economics professor Andrew Leach has a lot on his plate.

In late June, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley appointed Leach as chair of a new climate change panel that will advise her government on energy and climate policies ahead of December’s big UN climate gathering in Paris.

Notley plans to be the first Alberta premier to attend the annual gathering, and she’s making sure she comes armed with a meaningful and effective action plan. Leach, who is director of natural resources, energy and environment programs at the University of Alberta’s School of Business, will spend the next weeks and months gathering and weighing ideas with an eye to rebalancing the province’s environmental and economic objectives.

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