Archive for the ‘EcoHouse’ Category

Power all with the Powerwall!

Written by: Ramsha Ahmed

If you haven’t heard of the new Tesla battery, you may be living under a rock. Tesla’s new battery is the talk of the town and it’s everywhere in the media. Why? It aims to take homes and businesses off the grid.

What is the Tesla Battery?

Model S Lithium Ion Battery

Model S Lithium Ion Battery

The new Powerwall Tesla Home Batteries are lithium ion batteries that come in two sizes – 7kWh and 10 kWh – and are combined with solar panels. The 7kWh battery is for daily usage and is designed to be mounted on a wall while the larger counterpart is stored for backup when the electricity may go out. The battery charges during off peak times when the rates are lower. The 7kWh batteries, when paired with other batteries, are sufficient enough to store customers’ generated electricity and use it during those expensive peak hours, or when the sun goes down. The start-up costs begin at approximately $3000 to $3500 and may be more before installation, making this new upgrade a less desirable option for many consumers. Tesla batteries are said to decrease in price by at least 50% in the next 10 years making them more affordable for homeowners and making them more practical in our daily lives.

Tesla Powerwall

Tesla Powerwall

What is its use?

When energy is generated in excess amounts, the unused energy is stored within a battery. When a battery is not present to store the energy it is often sold back to utility companies and then sold to customers later when they need it. In Ontario, we have to get people to pay us to take our excess energy at night time. The utility companies end up making money from the power you generate. The Tesla battery allows you to store the energy you make from solar energy and use it when you need it. Not only does it provide an economic benefit to home and business owners, but it also provides benefits for the environment.

Green Venture’s Plans for the Future

Current GV Battery System

Current Battery System at EcoHouse

Green Venture currently has two solar systems and a wind turbine on site to harvest renewable energy. We hope to replace our current batteries with the Tesla battery as soon as possible. The investment will help conserve more energy and will allow us to explore newer technologies and implement them into our daily lives. Right now we are using a battery bank, 24v dc system. We plan on using the tesla batteries in conjunction with our solar panels that we have on site. The power we save, we can store and use in the EcoHouse or to power the on-site Community CarShare Plug-In Prius Hybrid. During blackouts we will still have power at EcoHouse and be able to go about with our daily activities. There are endless possibilities with the new Tesla battery here at Green Venture!

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What one EcoTeam is doing to make their school more “Green”

IMG_0240Many schools are taking steps to become more sustainable in the classroom, so it wasn’t surprising when an educational assistant from Sacred Heart School came to Green Venture to ask about purchasing a vermicomposter. The part that surprised me was that she was contacting me on behalf of her Eco Team; it was her students who decided to get a composter.  They wanted to reduce the amount of waste they create, and they led the fundraising project so their school could achieve this goal.  Of course I had to meet with their Eco Team to see learn more about what they were up to.

The students were eager to tell me all about their hard work, achievements and future plans. The team is made up of 25 students between grades 2 and 8. Their latest project was raising funds for a vermicomposter. The idea to get a composter came from seeing all the waste from the breakfast program. The school started with recycling, but wanted to decrease their waste even further. Thus began their quest for a composter. The students came up with an action plan, which started in October. The first part of the plan was how to come up with the money for a composter. They decided to sell bracelets.  They made bracelets in their spare time at school and even on the weekends. Once they had enough bracelets they starting selling them, within 3 weeks they had raised enough money. Even they were surprised how fast they could raise the money at 25 cents to a dollar per bracelet.

Green Venture was delighted to hear the students gave so much of their time and efforts to raise money for the vermicomposter, and we gave them a discount to help with the costs. Green Venture also offers a Totally Transit Kids program where Green Venture partners with the HSR to educate students on the importance of sustainable transportation and gives them a free chartered bus ride to EcoHouse. The students came to pick up their worms in February and learned how to care for them by going on a tour of Green Venture.

They are also currently working on a battery drive, and have collected 2,183 batteries, with a target of 3,000 batteries. The best part of this drive is that once the target is reached they will celebrate by having a wear green day. They have also reclaimed areas from weeds and planted new plants. They have visions of more shade for their playground and a bigger teaching garden. They have created a garden space which is limited now but the Eco team has visions of creating container gardens.IMG_0246

The school has a recycling program, but what makes their program unique is that garbage gets monitored by the Eco Team upon collection. If the class makes it a week with proper recycling they get one letter of a word, and once all the letters in the word Recycle, are collected they get a pizza party. The Eco Team says this has helped with students making sure waste gets put in the right place.

Another great sustainable practice that the students promote is turning the lights off every day from 2 to 3. Each class is to turn off their lights during this time to help save energy and resources.IMG_0244

The EcoTeam charts how the students get to school, promoting sustainable transportation. Daily Eco tips and trivia are included in the morning announcements. The team has even put on an environmental themed play about how you can live more sustainably.

Future ideas for the team are bottled water versus tap water taste test, walk to school day, and raising money to get t- shirts for the Eco team.

As someone who has a passion for teaching and the environment, it so exciting to see schools promoting student led environmental initiatives in their schools.

For more information about Green Venture, vermicomposters and school tours, visit our website at http://www.greenventure.ca

Contact Virginia at education@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 x 154

Get Involved with Green Venture

Green Venture is a non-profit organization and, like many non-profits, we rely on the help of community volunteers for many of our projects. Whether it’s weeding a garden, guiding a tour, promoting Green Venture at an event or taking part in a clean-up, our volunteers help in all kinds of ways.

Having fun after a volunteer cleanup event

Having fun after a volunteer cleanup event

Many of our volunteers get involved with Green Venture for various  reasons. Everyone is different but most volunteers have a few things in common and many volunteer because they want to help the environment, get experience, learn skills, meet new people and have fun. Some people also volunteer to add to a resume or earn volunteer hours for high school.

Green Venture has several ways you can get involved, including maintaining the grounds at our EcoHouse, joining us at special events or helping lead a tour (for more details on these opportunities, visit our website). These are not the only ways people volunteer with Green Venture though, we also have interns, co-op students and all of our board members are volunteers.

Making paper during an EcoHouse open house

Making paper during an EcoHouse open house

Getting involved is easy:

  • Sign up for our Green Post (online Volunteer Mailing List) to receive regular updates on volunteer opportunities
  • Email volunteer (@) greenventure.ca to receive a Volunteer Application and information about current opportunities to volunteer
  • Visit Green Venture’s EcoHouse or speak with us at an event to learn more about volunteering
  • If you have skills or experience you would like to share as a volunteer let us know!

We hope you will come out and volunteer with us soon!

Community CarShare comes to the East End!

Green Venture has decided to do the green thing and trade in our two company vehicles for a Community CarShare membership. Community CarShare is a local non-profit co-operative organization. They were the first car sharing organization within Ontario starting in 1998 and have been a part of the Hamilton community since 2009.

How does it work?

The Community CarShare program is really simple. First, you sign up for a membership plan that is based on your needs. Once you are signed up and have received a safe driving orientation you are able to book any of the 53 CarShare vehicles (with 13 in Hamilton), and you are able to book up to 30 minutes in advance. The car is then charged on a pay-per-use basis. You are able to pick the type of car you need and then head to the closest available location to pick up your car, it’s as simple as that. You don’t even have to pay for gas, maintenance, or insurance, they are all included in your membership fee.

We used our Community CarShare membership to book the Toyota Tacoma to help us get everything for our booth from the EcoHouse to the Open Streets festival in Hamilton.

We used our Community CarShare membership to book the Toyota Tacoma to help us get everything for our booth from the EcoHouse to the Open Streets festival in Hamilton.

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Our helper with the CarShare!

There are many benefits for anyone to change from using a personal vehicle to joining the Community CarShare. Some of the benefits are,

  • Financial: For a newer vehicle you will be cutting out those hefty monthly payments, or for an older car the growing maintenance costs. You do not pay for gas, which is constantly increasing, or insurance, as this is included in the membership fee. Additionally you are not paying for a place to park your car, and if you have an extra par
    king space you can potentially rent it out and make a profit! At Green Venture we did the math and we will be saving over $5000.00 dollars a year by switching to CarShare!
  • Social: You are contributing to a local co-operative organization within your community. You are also avoiding the stress of managing and maintaining a vehicle and lastly Community CarShare has made picking up and booking a car convenient and hassle free.
  • Environmental: By ditching your ride and joining CarShare you are diminishing the amount of cars on the road. This helps reduce CO2 emissions, while also reducing the amount of traffic and consequently the amount of idling on the streets, bettering our air quality within the city. Lastly if you do not have your own vehicle for transportation traveling becomes more of a conscious decision. This allows people to become more aware of their transportation choices and consider more environmentally friendly decisions such as CarShare, biking or walking.
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The Toyota Prius PHV plugged-in and recharging its batteries.

Green Venture is taking the environmental benefits one step further by introducing an electric vehicle into the Community CarShare organization. At Green Venture’s office building, called the EcoHouse, we have an Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station, which was donated by EATON. The EV charging station is a place for plug-in cars to recharge and collect electric energy for their vehicles. The EV charging station will soon be the new location for the Toyota Prius Hybrid Plug-in (or Prius PHV), for Community CarShare. This hybrid utilises rechargeable batteries while in all-electric running mode, that only take two to three hours to charge and the vehicle can maintain high speeds and last a long distance. When using the Prius PHV compared to other gas guzzling cars of the same size you will be reducing your fuel consumption by 1650 litres and even better lowering your CO2 emissions by nearly 4000 kg per year! By Green Venture using not only CarShare but an electric vehicle we will be significantly reducing our carbon footprint and continuing our goal to live more sustainably.

Written by: Brittney Massey

Ozone Laundry at EcoHouse

Laundry detergents can contain toxic chemicals which can be harmful for both the environment and human health. Even claimed ‘natural green detergent’ is not always the most environmentally friendly. A safe and ecofriendly alternative to detergents is ozone washing. At Green Venture we use an ozone Laundry system to help keep our laundry as green as possible.

airtrona in solarium

The AirTrona Ozone Laundry System used at Green Venture

How Ozone Laundry Works:

The laundry system dissolves ozone into water. From the strong water pressure the end result is 100% dissolved ozonated water, which replaces any detergents, bleach or other chemicals you may use to wash your clothing. The ozone is so strong that it disinfects dirty clothes, eliminating the need for soap. Afterwards the ozonated water is drained out into the waste water system and any leftover ozone is naturally converted back into oxygen.

Although an uncontrolled level of ozone can have health and safety implications, our AirTrona ozone laundry system uses a front load washer and a venturi injection system to add ozone carefully to water. The front load washer has an air tight seal, which is required. A lack of seal, such as on a top load washing machine, can cause the ozone gas to leak. The ozone laundry system can only be installed for front load washers. The venturi injection system is very efficient during the process of diluting ozone into water. Eliminating nearly all of the ozone that is left in gaseous form, to leave a minuscule residual amount to be released through the washer’s vent at the rear of the machine. The AirTrona ozone laundry also comes with an ozone monitor to guarantee your laundry room has a controlled level of ozone and to ensure your safety. The monitor also will shut off automatically if external air ozone levels reach too high for safety standards.

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Front loader washer at EcoHouse- only use ozone systems with front loaders!

Benefits of Ozone Laundry

The outcome of ozone laundry systems are beneficial for both yourself and the environment. Firstly the system requires no detergents, bleaches or soaps, keeping harmful chemicals out of the wastewater systems, while saving you from having to purchase these products. Also by eliminating the steps it takes for the soap to go through the system and break down it allows the wash to be completed in fewer cycles, saving you time and the machine energy. In addition to the shorter cycles the ozone laundry system is able to clean your garments in cold water, getting rid of the need for how water. Heating up the water is one of the most energy consuming tasks for laundry machines, and by solely using cold water you are conserving a lot of energy.

Once the ozone system has completed the wash cycle, you are still able to save on time and energy during the time it takes to dry your clothes. The Ozone laundry lowers water retention within your clothing, and when less water is within your textiles it takes a significantly shorter time to dry them. The dryer is a huge energy drainer and the less amount of time and energy you can waste on that appliance the better. Even if you hang dry your items they will still take less time, and you will be conserving the most amount of energy with this option.

Using the ozone system gives your clothing that same ‘‘fresh air’’ scent as if you hung them out to dry on the clothing line. Not only does your clothing now smell great, but it is noticeably softer, without the use of harmful fabric softeners. You get all the benefits of detergents without the use of toxic chemicals. This results in your clothing lasting up to 5 times longer than ever before.

ozone shirts

The shirt on the right shows obvious splotching from laundry residue, which the shirt on the left (which was washed in the GV ozone laundry system) does not have any. You can’t tell from the picture, but the ozone-washed shirt is noticeably softer too, as a result of eliminating the laundry soap (and the need for fabric softener).

Costs of the system

The AirTrona Ozone Laundry System retails for around $400. The length it will take to make back that up-front cost will vary depending on how you conduct your laundry to begin with. If you are an individual who pays top dollar for detergents, fabric softeners and bleaches, that cost will be out-right eliminated with the use of the ozone, saving you money there. You will also be saving money on your energy bills by using cold water for your laundry rather than hot water. This will be a significant saving if you previously used hot water. However, if you have always used cold water then the saving benefits will not apply to your utility bills. Therefore if you are an individual who uses a lot of costly soaps and hot water for your laundry you will be making your return back from the machine significantly faster than others. However, in laundry detergent alone to pay back the machine will take you approximately two years, then you will eventually be ahead. The unit is warranted for those two years, and the machine has a life span of five years.

For more information on the ozone laundry system in use at Green Venture, visit http://www.airtrona.com/, or come by and a look at the unit yourself at EcoHouse (22 Veevers Drive, Hamilton).

Education Tours At Green Venture’s EcoHouse

 

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Hey Teachers!

We’re sure you’re counting down until the end of the school year, and trying to get through the last of your lessons. Did you know that Green Venture offers a myriad of school programs for all age groups at the EcoHouse? EcoHouse is southern Ontario’s only retrofitted environmental demonstration home and provides students with a unique opportunity to see environmentally friendly technology and behaviours. We’ve developed specialized tours, activities, and games for each grade on topics including wise water use, energy conservation, and waste reduction. And of course these hands-on tours are all based on the curriculum! We provide tours for elementary and secondary schools, and can customize them according to your time, group size, and any special interests or needs.

 

All the information about our educational programs can be found online on our website at http://ecohouse.greenventure.ca/education-programs.

 

Some of our most popular programs include:

 

Green Adventure: A Quest for Less!

This 2-hour program for Grade 1 students is very popular, as it focuses on energy use around the house. Students find it easy to relate what they learn at EcoHouse to their own homes. The chance to learn about how we make, use, and recycle paper always captures their attention. While most students already have a good grasp of the Recycling part of the three R’s, they are introduced to the Reuse and Reduce part when we run some newspapers through a blender and students get to make their own paper!

 

Soil: It’s More Than Just Dirt!

Grade 3 students can either get an introduction to soil, plants, and food topics with this program, or astound themselves with their own knowledge if it is used as a wrap-up to the topic. This vibrant program involves a lot of action, with games like Moving Black-Eyed Susan and The Great Food Sort-Out. No program about soil, food, and compost would be complete without a chance to peek into the worm bins and meet some of our no-legged friends.

 

WATT a Waste!

One of the first things students notice when standing outside of the EcoHouse are the solar panels on the front lawn. This large visual display of renewable energy can be applied to the Science and Technology curriculums of Grades 4, 5, and 6 students. While the tour of the house will be different for each grade based on the curriculum topics, each grade will do the Bean Energy activity. This activity illustrates to students in a very hands-on way both the limitations and potentials of renewable and non-renewable energy sources.

 

These are just a few of our educational program offerings. Please check out our website for information about programs for grades not listed here at http://ecohouse.greenventure.ca/education-programs.

We are also excited to be able to offer unique partnerships with other organizations. The Museum of Steam and Technology was built in 1859 as Hamilton’s first municipal waterworks, and is only about 10 minutes from EcoHouse. The museum now demonstrates simple machines, force, energy and design, the hydrological cycle, and animates life in a 19th century workplace. It fits in very well with EcoHouse programming, from the topics of energy to the original time periods of the sites! This joint program includes a chartered HSR bus to provide transportation between the two sites. While on the bus, students also have the chance to learn about sustainable transportation and bus ridership.

 

EcoHouse also partners with Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) for Totally Transit. This program aims to equip young bus riders with the tools they need to ride transit effectively and safely. In this program, students make the connections between our transportation choices, energy use, air quality, climate change and healthy communities.  Best of all the students put their knowledge to the test on a privately chartered city bus. Green Venture and the HSR chartered bus come right to the school doors to deliver Totally Transit on-site or the bus can be your transportation to and from an EcoHouse tour.  Ask for more information, limited spots are available.

 

Many of our programs are also available as outreach programs to your school. If you’re interested in what we offer, but can’t get your kids to us, we will come to you! Check out our website for more information, or call us at 905-540-8787 x154. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Put a Roof over our Heads!

Build an Outdoor Education Centre at EcoHouse.

Our environment is precious. Let’s work to preserve it through hands-on learning in a natural setting. Green Venture is looking for voting help for an Aviva Community Fund grant. This on-line competition requires the public to vote for projects. Voting takes place between Sept 30 and Oct 14, 2013. Your support for this project will help fund class tours of EcoHouse for students in Hamilton and surrounding region, and will also provide an interpretive centre on the grounds suitable for outdoor education programs.

To vote (requires an easy and free registration), go here: http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf16853

Create an Outdoor Education Space

If successful, the open-air Outdoor Education Centre will be located in the SW corner of the 2-acre Glen Manor estate, part of a lush oasis in the heart of the East Hamilton neighbourhood resting in the shadow of the Niagara Escarpment. The Outdoor Education Centre will be integrated into the existing fruit garden plantings in that section of the EcoHouse grounds, where staff discuss the virtues of poly culture in food production and the role of various fruit plantings historically in the old Saltfleet Township and the Niagara fruit belt.

Our Outdoor Education Centre will accommodate up to 24 students at a time, and will be used by all groups visiting EcoHouse as part of the two-hour indoor and outdoor programs on sustainable living. A raised platform with railings, will be complemented by a loft ceiling and a roof built with sustainable materials. Two rain barrels will collect rainwater for nearby fruit plantings. Green Venture staff and volunteers will conduct education sessions from a small raised dais. Recycling options and a small teaching storage case will round out the outdoor programming offerings.

Urban wildlife visits Green Venture's EcoHouse

Urban wildlife visits Green Venture’s EcoHouse

 

 Bring Students to EcoHouse

If successful, at least 15 classes (600 students) will receive, at no charge, an educational program at Green Venture with hands-on activities and curriculum links to Grades 5-6 and 7-8, including transportation to and from the site.

The Outdoor Education Centre will continue to be of benefit to the community, with over 2000 students visiting annually per year. The structure will also be available to groups wishing to utilize the EcoHouse grounds for public functions. Signage will be erected to thank Aviva for their generous contribution.

 Key components:

1. No-charge education programs for at least 15 classes (600 students)

2. Transportation provided for at least 15 classes

3. Teaching platform, steps, and loft ceiling

4. Environmentally-sustainable metal roof and eavestrough

5. Four round six-seater picnic tables

6. Teaching supplies chest

7. Segregated upright bin for recycling collection

8. Two rain barrels for rainwater collection and plantings

 

http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf16853

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