EnviroCentre’s mission is to provide people, communities, and organizations with practical solutions to lighten their environmental impact in lasting ways.
Why? Because we want a better future for our city and the people who live here. But what does our vision of a “better” future mean? Let’s find out …
The Future Ottawa is zero carbon. And so much more, but let’s start there.
In the future Ottawa, our homes are powered by low-carbon renewable electricity, much of which is produced in the local region. That means we have energy-efficient homes that use as little energy as possible for day-to-day life, which is good because it also means our homes are more resilient.
We have backup power and resilient micro-grids to keep us safe and warm in the storms that are definitely coming, even in the best-case climate scenario. Our transportation is electrified, and inclusive.
We’ve recognized that energy-efficient, equitable transportation is not primarily car-based. People have cars, but most of the time they prefer not to use them because transit is cheaper, safer, convenient, fast and popular. It’s more fun. Car, pedestrian and bike accidents are way down, and Ottawa is incredibly proud of our better-than-best-in-class transit system.
Our lawns, parts of our driveways and huge sections of paved areas (including parking lots we no longer need) have been planted with native species plants, trees and food, so our city – despite its population – is full of life, shade, places to play and beautiful things to look at. People do a lot of walking and cycling to get around their neighbourhoods, which means most people are healthier and – who knew? – happier than they used to be. Healthcare costs are down too.
We still have an enormous amount of goods circulating within, and in and out of our City, but because of standardized containers and packaging, advanced waste-sorting, and organics processing systems, waste is down.
And water. Our City recognized early that water was going to be both a boon and a problem around here, so we developed innovative systems to capture and store storm and flood-season overflow to create reservoirs that would act as irrigating systems in the hot dry pieces of the year. Our use of ecological design for wastewater treatment systems has both reduced our costs and improved the river-system health.
Since many of these investments were supported by the federal-provincial climate transition fund and had built-in reconciliation, equity and community benefits requirements, the projects have supported a boost in regional skilled labour and gradually built a regional shared expectation of a base standard of living for all. And that’s just the beginning.
This is our vision. Getting there will require a lot of work. Not just ours, but everyones. The good news is, you can get started right away. Here are the three most impactful ways you can help to build a better future.
#1 Net Zero Your Home
45% of Ottawa’s emissions come from buildings. We can cut those emissions by improving our homes to be energy efficient and electrifying them to draw on 100% clean energy.
In broad strokes, we all need to do this by 2040, which means roughly 20,000 of us need to do it this year, and every year, until we’re done. This is something you can do. This is something you can talk about with your friends, family, neighbours, landlords and City councillors and get them to do. You are not alone. Visit the Green Homes section of our website to get started.
#2 Zero Carbon Your Travel
Another 45% of Ottawa’s emissions comes from transportation, largely our gas-burning single cars beetling around town to work, shop, and live. These trips need to go 100% electric or zero-carbon by 2050. That means your next car is electric. It means that the electrified public transit system Ottawa is struggling to build really matters. It means that any trips you can shorten, eliminate, or do via zero-carbon walking, rolling, or pedalling will make a difference. Today’s lives in Ottawa are built around non stop gas-powered journeys. Tomorrow’s are not. You can do the work of figuring out how to zero-carbon your travel for tomorrow’s world. You won’t be alone.
Tips run in threes (our brains are wired for it), but action three is hard to choose because the remainder of Ottawa’s emissions are divided across a wide range of important activities. Then there’s biodiversity, resilience, habitat loss, and the global community’s emissions profile to consider. What all these things have in common is the need for significant systemic change to shift the tide. Learn more about what you can do to lighten the impact of your local transportation choices here.
#3 Push for Systemic Change
So, here’s what we suggest. When you are pondering the climate-damaging pieces of your life that you feel you can’t fix (the mountains of plastic that come with all our food supplies, the questionable production methods behind your t-shirt and shoes, the habitat destruction associated with the beef in your favorite meal), focus on one and start to ask those who can make a difference to change their ways.
You, one person, probably can’t address every part of the big picture. We do literally nothing else over here, and we still just scratch the surface on a few big, local things. But you are not alone. One million Ottawa residents making their voice heard on one big climate issue is a big force for change. To get you started, and keep you motivated, sign up for our weekly Green Beat Newsletter and subscribe to our Green Room Podcast.