Innovative IDEAS to solve world issues



I have decided to start an IDEAS section for this blog, dedicated to exploring solutions to world problems which have yet to be solved. No problem is too big. Roll up your sleeves with me, and dive in fearlessly to tackle big issues, share relevant information, brainstorm ideas, and compassionately encourage others to do the same.

If you have a sustainable or compassionate problem (big or small) you would like solved, please note it below! I will be selecting a different topic each month for discussion. Additionally, a social media challenge will be launched each month to increase awareness about the issue chosen.

This IDEAS area is a safe place – all ideas, however seemingly unrealistic, are welcomed. Additionally, information generated from this section is free for entrepreneurs and innovators to pursue – in fact that is the point!

Lets change the world…one IDEA at a time.

**If you (or others you know) are interested in brainstorming or pursuing an IDEA, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**




CaGBC ORC – A Year in Review

I have been blessed to volunteer with the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) regional chapters, both in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa Region, over the past 5 years. My spirit has been enriched through shared passion, education, and collective action.

The CaGBCs mission is to ‘lead and accelerate the transformation to high-performing, healthy green buildings, homes and communities throughout Canada’.

Buildings are the largest contributor of human caused green house gases. Sustainable buildings add value in many ways – from lower environmental impacts (increased waste diversion, and reduced energy and water consumption), better occupant health and productivity, reduced operating expenses, to top talent acquisition and retention. Living, working, and playing in green buildings should be a top priority for those who care about the environment, their health, or their wallet.

This past year, I had the pleasure of being the President of the CaGBC Ottawa Region Chapter (CaGBC ORC). We had a brilliant team of dedicated volunteers, who worked together to create tangible positive changes including:

  • Ten high value and well attended green building events (including green building seminars, building tours, networking, LEED credential training, and community education and outreach)
  • Launched new CaGBC ORC website (600% increase in monthly views), with a new Industry Expert Blog (~2,000 views per article)
  • Increased Social Media reach (500+ people) {You can find the CaGBC ORC on twitter, LinkedIN and facebook}
  • Increased membership (<100 to >150) and membership benefits (including terra20 savings for change program)
  • Expanded Emerging Green Builder Group to include School Groups
  • Continued to build strong partnerships (Post Secondary schools, environmental groups, building associations, government).

It never ceases to amaze me what a dedicated team of people can accomplish, when heads and hearts combine to form action. The ripple effects of the work done this past year, are likely much larger than even I can imagine. I wanted to personally thank all those who devoted their time, energy, enthusiasm, and intellect to further green buildings in Canada over this past year.

You are changing the world. Never stop.

For those interested in how they can get involved: Check out CaGBC, USGBC, or World GBC for volunteer opportunities in your region. If you want to find out how you can start making changes in your own home, you can review my Home Energy Project. I challenge you to inquire at buildings you frequent (such as your place of work, community center, school, shopping center) if any sustainable building initiatives have been pursued – advocate for changes if they have not, give recognition if they have.

**If you enjoyed the content of this post, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**

Winter 2015: Poetic & Visual Inspiration

I am honored to share an incredible poem,  from a brilliant soul – Paul Jensen. I have been blessed to have glimpses into Paul’s life and light, through sharing of his written word.  Paul passed away unexpectedly last week, and although his passing is heartbreaking to those of us who knew him, I know his spirit lives on in his creative work. With great admiration, and in remembrance, one of Paul’s poems has been reprinted here. Share in this moment. Reflect. Life’s small miracles are still all around us. 
We will miss you, Paul.

Dawn’s Too Early Light

Light on the ceiling
Shadows banished early

Silence all I’m hearing
All life abed too late

Too much light too little noise
The world has changed

The drapes pull back
Blinding white, pure light



**If you enjoyed the content of this post, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**

You can find more artistic inspiration (poetic, visual and musical) here.
If you enjoy these photos, you may be interested in my Instagram.


Empowering Sustainable International Development


In an ideal collaboration the International Sustainability Club (ISC) at the leading school for sustainable business, Presidio Graduate School,  partnered with Zawadisha to analyze and provide insights for  Kenyan women’s entrepreneurship in environmentally conscious products.

Zawadisha is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower, entrust and expand opportunities for women through micro-lending, preventative healthcare, and education. They accomplish this through funding micro loans which address the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) – such as water tanks, and solar lamps.

Allyn McAuley, a MBA Candidate at Presidio whose focus area is in the development of software solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental and social problems, explains the success factors of Zawadisha’s approach:

Zawadisha’s approach differs from many micro-finance organizations because their eco-product ideas come from the women that they serve (their members), not from the organization. In addition, Zawadisha works solely with women’s groups, as opposed to individuals, because groups provide the support and accountability necessary for successful lending and repayment of loans.

The ISC students assessed the financial, social and environmental impacts of the micro-loans, including the Grameen Foundation’s Progress out of Poverty Index. The information collected was used to visualize and identify opportunities within the network.  Outcomes included storyboards (individual and organizational), money management training modules, as well as the incredible opportunity to share knowledge on how to address social and environmental issues from one set of business leaders to another.

I cannot help but feel a sense of hope that widespread solutions are within reach, if we continue to share expertise and work together to create worldwide change.

Have you participated in a micro-loan program? Where do you see the largest opportunities for business to solve social and environmental issues today? Are you involved in supporting those who are pursuing positive change? Please share links to other worthwhile projects below!

**If you enjoyed the content of this post, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**

You may also enjoy other articles on how business or investing can create change: Q&A interview with Impact Investor, William Doll OR Sustainable Investing for the Future.

Inspirational Person: Jamie McKay, Sustainable Building Consultant

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Jamie McKay is self described “Husband, Father, principal at Morrison Hershfield (15 yrs), LEED Fellow, adjunct teacher (Carleton University), lecturer (CaGBC & USGBC), engineer, environmentalist, dumpster diver, artist/designer/builder, canoe paddler, skateboarder, and telemark skier – and that about sums it up”. Quite impressive!

Jamie, as a recognized leader in Sustainable Building Design, where was your passion born?

In 1995 I graduated from Civil Engineering at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) and headed to the Yukon Territory, in search of adventure and autonomy. I met many people living radically different lives than anything I’d ever seen before, and was exposed to many new ideas. It was there that I first found my passion for the environment and self-sufficient housing. This was also where I met my wife, a staunch environmental activist. I began to seek out any information I could about the field of sustainable construction, and ultimately moved to Victoria (1997) and Vancouver (1999). It was there that I became involved in the emergence of the green building industry, and got inspired by local legends: David Suzuki, Peter Busby and Guy Dauncey. One of my first deep green projects was Dock Side Green in Victoria, B.C. (a Windmill project)

Over your career, what comes to mind as the largest victories? 

The things that I am most proud of would best be split into two categories: personal and project based. Personally, it would have to be my LEED Fellowship (2014) – a combination of consulting, volunteering, teaching and lecturing over 15 years. Professionally, my work with the Office of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency on the Implementation Guide for the Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Government Green Building Policy (2013). It was an unsolicited project whose aim was to help promote (possible save) green buildings in NL, and included interviews, stakeholder meetings and post-delivery information sessions.

I have always admired the way you live out your beliefs, including building your own straw bale home! Could you tell us a bit more about some aspect you really love ?

I do love my house, but not for what you would expect. People are the biggest feature – from the local farmer, wood miller, window manufacturer, clay plasters, timber framers, to used material suppliers. We embedded stories into the house, including wood from the Duke of Summerset pub, my Dad’s old lead glass windows, and signatures carved into the clay. I can still hear the stories weaved as the straw bales were sewn together by the mostly female crew, or an apologetic plaster that accidentally burned a section of roof joist. To me (us) this is priceless.

Your ability to instill an understanding of the connection between the built environment and nature with your children is a powerful example. Could you share one of the initiatives that your family undertook recently, that your children really enjoyed? 

For this I will give a nod to my wife, as we (she) took on an outdoor education initiative at our kid’s school. We brought butterflies into the class rooms as caterpillars, and helped the kids release them at the end. Then we worked with the kids to design and build a butterfly garden with local plants. This project has since expanded to working with the local library to start a seed saving library. Each project was intended to bridge the gap between education, the environment and the community. Our involvement in the project truly enriched each of our lives and touched many in the community too.

With all of your experiences and knowledge, do you think there is hope for the world? And if so – what would you say is the key to solving the current environmental crises? 

It’s a good question as it is not obvious on the surface, but simply – YES. Our society is very busy in the consuming/working cycle so you need a quiet moment of interaction to find it. Our family has found that working within our local community (kids, librarians, bike mechanics, local food producers) each member tells a story of hope.

I think that we all yearn for connection and something real – but it seems only to happen when we let our guard down, smile and connect.

**If you enjoyed the content of this post, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**

{Interested in other Q&A’s with Inspirational People? Check them out here}



Project Drawdown – substantiative solutions to Climate Change

In a moment of sincere disappointment and loss of hope, I was blessed to have the rare gift of speaking to an incredible human being, a golden soul that has inspired me for many years: Paul Hawken. His words, compassion, and optimism continue to resonate:

Is climate change happening to you or for you? If it is happening to you – you are a victim, you are an object, you are dis-empowered. But if you embrace it, it is your ally. We need to embrace climate change as a guide to a far better world than we know now. Avoidance of despair is an essential condition in order for humanity to creatively respond to the future we face. The public’s willingness to respond to climate change can shift, if they can see opportunity instead of dread, that a transformation can benefit them individually and collectively.

It is not game over…it is game on.

His most recent work includes being project director for the empowering Project Drawdown (a book, open-source database/digital platform, and coalition of individual and organizational change agents). Project Drawdown describes over 100 social and technological solutions that reduce and sequester carbon dioxide emissions. Projections show adoption could result in net green house gases declining on a year to year basis by 2045.

The solutions outlined in Project Drawdown, are existing, researched, and organized according to agency (individuals, communities, buildings, businesses, forests, cities, provinces/states). They include the obvious (renewable energy, LED lighting) as well as the unexpected (girls education, rotational grazing).

Everyone can contribute to the solutions needed. I challenge you to consider getting involved in Project Drawdown by joining the coalition: become a volunteer, apply to be a fellow, assist your institution in participating, give scientific advice, become a partner, or make a donation.

‘Climate change is begging us to dream’ … and dream we will.

**If you enjoyed the content of this post, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**

You may also enjoy ‘Interface: Net-Works (making waste beautiful)‘.

Sustainable Investing for the Future

Chris McKnett, brilliantly illustrates the ability of investment choices to create social and environmental change. He stresses that sustainable investing is less complicated than you think, better performing than you believe, and more important than you can imagine.

Environmental, Social  and Governance (ESG) initiatives are gaining momentum, with 80% of global CEO’s identifying sustainability as the root to growth & innovation, leading to competitive advantage, and limiting future risk. ESG is not about making money and giving the profits to charities – it’s fully integrating sustainability into all business practices.

Large institutional investors have the financial firepower to create massive change… and they are:

CalPERs is the pension fund for public employees in California, with assets of $244 Billion, it is the second largest in the US, sixth largest in the world. They are moving to 100% sustainable investment, by systematically integrated ESG across the entire fund. Why? They believe it’s critical to superior long term returns. FULL STOP. In their own words ‘Long term value creation requires the effective management of three forms of capital: Financial, Human, and Physical’

Prudent investing and finance theory are not subordinate to sustainability, they are compatible.

Does your pension or retirement savings plan consider sustainability and/or ESG when making investment decisions? Do you consider not only the return on investments, but what your money is helping to grow? Make intentional investment decisions to create the world you want to see.

**If you enjoyed the content of this post, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**

You may also enjoy this Q&A interview with Impact Investor, William Doll.