Clean Energy Economy and Retrofitting Buildings

We continue the focus started last week on careers in a green (clean) economy.

A report by the Conference Board of Canada starts its analysis of Canada’s prospects in a clean energy economy by asking first, “What is a clean energy growth economy and how do we measure it?”

Answer: “We define a clean energy growth economy as one that will sustain our environment, create wealth, and enhance our standard of living. Getting there will require a long-term transformation of all aspects of life in Canada, and a clear and actionable road map to get us there.”

Document Highlights from this 16-page brief include:

  • “Guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, we focus on three key themes and a set of strategic goals to measure progress: economy, environment, and society.”
  • “We have developed a sustainability framework to track key indicators. An energy-system lens is applied to this framework (i.e., we include the entire energy supply chain), given energy’s ubiquity, its role in GHG emissions levels, and the potential disruptive impacts of climate change.”
  • “These indicators provide an energy-system perspective on sustainability in Canada that can be viewed historically, for the most current period, and for the coming decades.”

The full brief, “Measuring What Matters: An Energy-System Perspective on Sustainability, (2020)” can be accessed here, offering further context to our blog posts on career prospects in a green (clean) economy:  

More recently, the Conference Board of Canada issued, “The Path Forward: Job Transitions in Canada (2021),” with this very positive assessment for job hunters planning a career shift:

Most Canadians who want to make a career transition have viable and desirable options, especially if they possess, or are willing to learn, the skills, abilities, tools, and technologies required for their destination occupation.”

The 19-page impact paper includes charts that provide at-a-glance overviews of which jobs are well-positioned to support transitions, and which job categories may not have viable or desirable transition options.

It notes that in terms of skills, “…the top 10 jobs with the most transitions typically require high proficiency in active listening and critical thinking.”

“An emphasis on speaking, reading comprehension, monitoring, judgement, and decision-making are also a key part of the essential skills base for eight of the top 10 jobs. Other research by The Conference Board of Canada similarly finds that social and emotional skills are becoming more important as labourmarket demand for knowledge workers grows.”

Other findings include, “Sales and service occupations have greater ability to move between different types of roles,” whereas some “Highly paid jobs and those with unique skills sets may have no transitions.” Among the jobs categorized in the latter group and listed in Table 3 are, for example, actors and comedians, judges, athletes, dentists, real estate agents, lawyers, optometrists.

Examples of the kinds of jobs with more transition options are, landscape and horticulture technicians and specialists, managers in social, community and correctional services, other wood products assemblers and inspectors, recreation, sports and fitness policy researchers, assistants and program officers.

To learn more, the full impact paper may be accessed at:

Transitions to a Low Carbon Future

This Conference Board of Canada paper makes the case for a “National Energy System Strategy”.

“Canada is an energy bank. We need to treat it like one. We require an energy system strategy that would allow Canada to lead (not follow) market opportunities and leverage our capital to transition to a low carbon future. An energy system strategy will allow us to better monitor and achieve our transition.”

“Energy is more than developing energy products like oil, natural gas, hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, biofuel, hydrogen, wood, coal, and geothermal. Energy is also about users. Transportation, housing, businesses, affordability, urban and rural centres, and financial markets all contribute to consumption. Combined, producers and consumers make up Canada’s energy system, and it is undergoing a dramatic evolution, often in a discordant way.

“The Canadian Energy Strategy of 2015 is not up to date with the times and is in need of a reset…..”

“The Centre for a Clean Energy Growth Economy (CEGE) at the Conference Board of Canada has created an interactive dashboard monitoring the energy system’s progress towards achieving a clean energy growth economy. By aggregating findings from 14 indicators we define how far the energy system has progressed across three themes of economy, environment, and society. Each theme and indicator can be filtered between producers and consumers, and by reference period.”

The good news is Canada is moving in the right direction. We have experienced an average 18 per cent improvement across the indicators since 2010. Pricing carbon emissions, adopting tough regulation and investing in innovative technology have all helped drive sustainable outcomes. Weak economic performance for energy producers, while slowing their overall transition, has not stopped their contribution to improvement.”

“Indicators tracking value add, investments in capacity, global reach, operating environment, and growth prospects comprise our economic performance theme. Since 2010, in aggregate, this theme has seen an improvement of 31 per cent despite challenges in the energy sector. GHG emissions and economic value add are decoupling rather than marching in tandem. As technology and environmental practices improve, firms are increasing output and decreasing associated emissions and impacts. Sustaining this trend is essential to achieving balanced, inclusive growth.

To learn more on why and how the Conference Board of Canada is calling for such a reset of the Green Energy Strategy, access the full report, “The Power Behind Transition – A National Energy System Strategy,” :

The Conference Board reports challenge us to see clean energy from a systems perspective, one that includes a wide spectrum of active participants from energy producers through to us as energy consumers, sometimes energy workers, and hopefully, increasingly, citizens as energy conservers in how we lead our daily lives whether making choices about transportation to work, where to live, how to renovate and retrofit our work and/or living spaces, and more.

Green Retrofitters

Last week’s Blog post included the good news piece from TED Countdown on expanding job opportunities in the Green (Clean) Economy. One of the growth jobs identified was that of the Green Retrofitter.

We wanted to dig a little deeper to learn more about what that looks like in action presently, here in Canada, and in the U.K., where it is seemingly more well-established, propelled by government policy.

Starting with the U.K., here’s what we found from TrustMark, a key player in the area of “Whole House Retrofit”.

“Under the Climate Change Act 2008 the UK needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.”

“To meet the UK’s government climate change targets, we must retrofit all homes to an EPC band C standard by 2035. Therefore, one of the key considerations for any homeowner is; How energy efficient is my home?” Housing efficiency is one of the major ways to reduce carbon and give us the best possible chance of meeting targets to help us reduce fuel poverty and make healthier homes. We are working with the government and industry through new legislation and standards in order that quality improvements are made to UK housing stock. Energy Company Obligation (ECO3) is the government’s programme to make UK homes more energy-efficient and is focused exclusively on these households with low incomes or living in fuel poverty.” (TrustMark:

U.K.’s TrustMark

TrustMark explains its role in meeting the U.K. government’s commitment to a zero carbon world:

“Encouraging and enabling households to improve the energy efficiency of their home will not only stand them in good stead if they decide to sell their house but is essential if we are going to meet the UK Government’s target to be zero carbon.”

“To achieve energy efficient homes across the UK, we must retrofit existing properties. TrustMark, the Government Endorsed Quality Scheme, is at the forefront of new legislation to enable the delivery of retrofit for energy improvements to UK homes. Energy Company Obligation (ECO3) is the government’s programme to make UK homes more energy efficient and is focused exclusively on those households with low incomes or living in fuel poverty. In total, 6.5 households are eligible. The most common energy efficiency measures available through ECO include loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation and boiler replacement or repair.”

“…ECO3 is designed to improve quality standards across the energy sector and give consumers higher level of confidence and protection when having work carried out in and around their home.”

“ECO3 requires that tradespeople completing the energy efficiency improvements must be registered with TrustMark and all work must be lodged in the TrustMark Data Warehouse.”


Whole House Retrofit

“Whole House Retrofit is a complete approach to making homes more energy-efficient, focusing on the fabric of the house first including the walls, roof, floors, windows and doors, to strategies for ventilation, heating efficiency and cooling in the summer months.”

By considering the whole house, these improvements will start a journey to healthier and more comfortable homes. Approximately 24 million homes across the UK need retrofitting, made low carbon, low-energy and help address climate change.”

“Possible Renovations include, but are not limited to:

  • Insulation
  • Airtightness 
  • Ventilation
  • Heating and cooling systems 
  • Renewable technologies
  • Water heating systems
  • Efficient lighting 
  • Energy monitoring systems 
  • Using locally generated power that uses zero-carbon technologies”


Green Retrofitters

“Green retrofitters might be experienced contractors, or qualified independent professionals. In the UK, such qualified professionals are known as retrofit coordinators and are architects, building asset managers, building services engineers, building surveyors, construction managers, energy assessors and consultants or site supervisors — all with extra training.”  (TrustMark:

U.K. Training

At the Retrofit Academy site we learned about training for Retrofit Coordinator role, which will be important for standards and compliance for approved projects under TrustMark:

“The role of Retrofit Coordinator is pivotal to the industry delivering the UK’s 2050 carbon neutral obligations. We offer online, blended and expert-led in-house courses to suit your budget and schedule. We work closely with key organisations to help transform the industry.”

“The ECO industry will have to adopt PAS 2035 shortly – at present the transition period runs to 31st July 2021. Any company wanting to deliver projects under the TrustMark, the recognised Quality Mark for the industry, will have to adopt a PAS 2035-compliant approach. A Retrofit Coordinator is a mandatory professional role on all projects under the PAS, responsible for compliance and project management from cradle to grave. As such, Retrofit Coordinators must come from suitable built environment backgrounds, must hold the ‘Level 5 Diploma in Retrofit Coordination and Risk Management’ certification and then be a member of a TrustMark approved Retrofit Coordinator Accreditation Scheme.” (

Urban Climate Action in Canada

The U.K.’s scale of housing retrofitting is impressive indeed.

We wondered about Canada.

Catherine was pleasantly surprised to learn about a well-established agency – TAF – that positions the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area well to become carbon neutral by 2050, including initiatives that focus on retrofitting buildings as a key component of moving to low-carbon scenarios here in Canada.

We learned that TAF was created by the City of Toronto Council in 1991 “to finance local initiatives to combat climate change and improve air quality in Toronto”  (now there’s a positive example of forward thinking!).

According to information on its website, it is a registered non-profit corporation with a Board of Directors made up of city councellors and citizens. It is funded by endowments ($17 million from Ontario in 2016 and $40 million from the Government of Canada in 2019) and draws no funds from City, Provincial or Federal tax bases. ( :


We’re helping the GTHA become carbon neutral by 2050

“We’re a regional climate agency that invests in low-carbon solutions for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and helps scale them up for broad implementation. We are experienced leaders and collaborate with stakeholders in the private, public and non-profit sectors who have ideas and opportunities for reducing carbon emissions. We advance the most promising concepts by investing, providing grants, influencing policies and running programs. We’re particularly interested in ideas that offer benefits beyond carbon reduction such as improving people’s health, creating new green jobs, boosting urban resiliency, and contributing to a fair society.”

Scaling low-carbon solutions

“For the GTHA to be carbon neutral by 2050, much needs to be done, and quickly. TAF is focused on enabling the acceleration and scale-up of low-carbon solutions so that we reach that goal.” ( :

Canada’s Climate Plan and TAF

Julie Leach writes this for TAF:

“Canada’s new climate plan is historic because it is the first to follow the science and chart a clear path to the 2030 target.  A high and rising price on carbon is the cornerstone of the plan, sending a strong and predictable market signal that will drive investment in climate solutions.”

“We’re picking up what the government is laying down, and we’re ready to support the work and address the gaps. Here is our breakdown and analysis of the best opportunities for two of the biggest emitters:


“13% of Canada’s carbon emissions come just from the fossil gas used to heat buildings (add 9% from electricity). The government has got the message: We need to retrofit all of Canada’s buildings, and doing so has many benefits.”

  • “The carbon price per tonne will increase $15 per year up to $170 by 2030. This will double the consumer cost of natural gas, which immediately improves the business case for building retrofits. The plan protects affordability by rebating Canadians on a quarterly basis.”
  • “$6.1 billion in total funding (including previously announced Canada Infrastructure Bank funding) will provide a boost for the retrofit market, help to attract private capital, develop the workforce needed, and make retrofits more affordable for home and commercial building owners.”
  • “Vital new standards and targets for reducing fugitive methane will reduce significant emissions from the full life cycle of natural gas (fossil gas).”


“26% of Canada’s emissions come from transportation and the zero-emissions vehicle market is an opportunity for Canada’s resource and industrial sectors.”

  • “The Clean Fuel Standard (the liquid stream focused on gasoline and diesel for vehicles) is on track for implementation. This regulation will reduce about 20 megatonnes of carbon a year by 2030”
  • “$1.5 billion is committed to fund the production and use of low-carbon fuels, including hydrogen. This will support cleantech innovation in both the building and transportation sectors”
  • “$1.5 billion in financing for zero-emission transit and school buses will help cities reach their targets for transportation”
  • “Incentives to spur the electric vehicle market and make them more affordable”

Advancing the climate agenda in the GTHA

“The big federal climate plan is here, just as TAF is setting up for our own ambitious 2021. Our sights are set on:

  • Partnering with housing providers to initiate deep retrofits in 3,000 housing units this year, mobilizing $150 million in investment to leverage public funding and attract more capital into low-carbon activity
  • Supporting municipalities to adopt green development standards for new buildings and performance standards for existing ones
  • Providing grants and investment capital to enable even more low-carbon activity like workforce development (clean jobs!), and EV charger installations
  • Publishing new research on growing challenges like fugitive methane emissions and embodied carbon in new construction
  • Addressing the gaps”

A backdrop for success

“At the close of an unpredictable year, you can count on TAF to stay the course, follow the carbon, and focus on action. For the first time we have a federal climate plan before us with many key pieces in place. The transition from fossil fuels has a role for everyone to play, including cities and provinces, industry, and the wider community.”

3000 deep housing retrofits in the GTHA – that’s positive action toward a low carbon future and one tangible source for job growth in the green economy locally in Ontario. ( :

Job Ads

We looked for further signs of actual job opportunities in the Green Economy. Using the search term “green retrofit jobs,” on for example, we found job listings for a Green Infrastructure Project Manager, a Green Building Climate Fellowship, and a Green Buildings Senior Energy Engineer.

Canada – Green Building Council

We learned there is a Green Building Council in Canada.


Lead and accelerate the transformation to high-performing, healthy green buildings, homes and communities throughout Canada


A transformed built environment leading to a sustainable future

The Council will work to:

  • change industry standards,
  • develop best design practices and guidelines,
  • advocate for green buildings, and
  • develop educational tools to support its members in implementing sustainable design and construction practices.

Green Building Council Canada (CaGBC) –

From its website we learned that it is in the standards setting business, perhaps along the lines of the U.K.’s TrustMark?

“CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building Standard is the new measure of green building innovation.”

“Carbon emissions represent the true climatic impact of buildings. Only by focusing on emissions during design, and assessing emissions once in operation, can we ensure the low-carbon outcomes Canada needs.”

“The ZCB Standard provides pathways for both new and existing buildings to reach zero carbon, and certification offers recognition for industry leaders. With ZCB Standard v2, focus is on the carbon balance of a building across its life-cycle, including construction and operation. It is applicable to all buildings except homes and small multi-family residential buildings.” (CaGBC – )

To learn more about the ZCB Standard for Design (46 pages) :

To learn more about the ZCB Standard for Performance (40 pages) :

The Council is also involved in promoting and implementing LEED

“LEED®, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely-used green building rating system in the world, available for virtually all building, community, and home-project types.”

“In Canada and around the world, LEED is a proven and holistic path to addressing climate change, and to creating buildings that are more resource-efficient, healthy and resilient. Continuous improvement is a hallmark of LEED, as it constantly improves ahead of evolving government policy.”


“Buildings generate nearly 30 per cent of all greenhouse gases, 35 per cent of landfill waste comes from construction and demolition activities, and up to 70 per cent of municipal water is consumed in and around buildings. It’s clear that buildings can have a substantial impact on Canada’s environmental goals.”

“Since 2005 LEED Canada has led to:

Energy savings
“Energy savings of 20.7 million eMWh which is enough to power 700,000 homes in Canada for a full year.”

Water savings
“Water savings totalling over 37 billion litres, enough to fill almost 15,000 Olympic swimming pools.”

“Recycling over 3.82 million tonnes of construction/ demolition waste, which is enough to fill the entire Roger’s Centre in Toronto 15 times.”

GHG reduction
“A 4.04 million CO2e tonne reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which equates to taking 860,000 cars off the roads for a year.”

Green roofs
390,000 sq. metres of green roofs, enough to cover 257 hockey arenas..” (

The Ca-GBC Resources are extensive, including a database of LEEDS Projects, and Green Building case studies to promote further learning and innovation, including for example, case studies for King Street Elementary Schools (N.B.), ManuLife LEEDS Gold, AmPED Sports Lab and Ice Complex (Ottawa) and evolv1 (Canada’s first ZCB-Design certified project to now achieve dual ZCB certification), accessible at:

The Education Services tab lists training opportunities to support companies in up-skilling their workforce to transition to a new low-carbon, retrofit economy, including customized training and access to experts. (Education Services:

Building an Ontario Green Jobs Strategy

This 2017 report was issued by the Environmental Defense, Blue Green Canada, and Clean Economy Alliance — “Building An Ontario Green Jobs Strategy looks at the job creation opportunities that will arise from retrofitting Ontario’s buildings and making them more energy efficient. It offers a series of recommendations to the province to ensure it creates good jobs and career opportunities for people who face employment barriers or are otherwise disadvantaged and need these jobs the most. ”

We will be looking with a close eye to Ontario’s budget, tabled March 24, 2021, and Canada’s forthcoming budget on April 19, 2021, for signs of investments in a Green (Clean) Economy.

Education and Training in Canada for Green Building

For anyone curious about what it might take to transition to a green building job, here is an example of a diploma program related to Green Building and Retrofitting currently on offer in Canada by Humber College (Ontario):

Sustainable Energy and Building Technology – Advanced Diploma (Humber College)

Length: 6 semesters starting in September

“Sustainability is one of the most important issues facing the building, energy and infrastructure sectors today, and individuals with the skills to design, implement and support renewable energy technologies are in high demand. Emerging opportunities for employment in this growing industry include:

  • building automation technician
  • business operator/entrepreneur
  • energy auditor/analyst/modeler
  • government energy policy analyst
  • project manager, energy performance
  • sustainable building analyst
  • sustainable building technologist
  • sustainable energy project manager”

“Our unique program prepares graduates to understand, improve and manage energy use and building resilience in new and existing structures, helping the renewable energy sector modernize the way we construct and live in our built environments. Students have the unique advantage to learn in our Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Centre for Urban Ecology.”

“This program offers a co-op option. Co-op work terms enable you to apply your skills and knowledge in a work environment and gain valuable, practical experience related to your program of study. You will learn new skills, learn about the world of work and meet people in your profession.”

“For students who are accepted into the program, three co-op work terms will take place. Two four-month work terms occur consecutively after four semesters of study, and the third work term occurs between Semesters 5 and 6. There are limited spaces in the co-op option, therefore, during Semester 3, you will be provided information about the application process and will be able to apply to the co-op stream at that time. While co-op work opportunities are not guaranteed, as students are in a competitive job placement market, participating students will receive a wide range of services to help them find a co-op opportunity.”

Canada’s Green Building Engine

Last word on the projected opportunities for this exciting sector goes to the Green Building Council of Canada (Ca-GBC) in its latest market report – “Canada’s Green Building Engine” (2020) :

“Green buildings create transformative change IN our cities and communities. They increase health and wellbeing, lower energy demands and emissions, and are a significant engine for job creation and GDP.”

“In 2018, the green building industry boasted 462,150 jobs – a 55 per cent increase over 2014. Over the same period, green building’s contribution to Canada’s GDP grew from $23.4 billion to approximately $47.9 billion.”

“These insights come from our latest market report, Canada’s Green Building Engine, which shows the transformation of green building industry into a mature sector of the Canadian economy, now generating more jobs than oil and gas extraction, mining, and forestry combined.”

“What’s driving green building growth?”

“Climate Change, Circular Economy, Healthy Inclusive Buildings, Retrofits,”

“Embodied Carbon, Smart Buildings, Energy Storage, Sustainable Materials”

Canada’s Green Building Engine captures the growth of the green building industry across Canada and by province and territory. It also looks ahead with sophisticated modelling to predict what the industry could look like in 2030. These models also weigh the COVID-19 pandemic – and the coming economic stimulus governments are planning to reignite Canada’s economy.”

“The “Climate Forward” scenario presents the outcome of a green recovery plan that prioritizes green building and progressive policies. Under the climate forward plan, Canada’s green building industry would flourish, with 1.5 million direct green building jobs and $150 billion in GDP by 2030.

To access the 12 page executive summary –

Electric Vehicle Workers and Other Green Careers

We are happy to share more signs of momentum and urgency building for action on the Paris Climate Agreement’s 2050 carbon neutrality target. Here is news from two auto makers – Ford Motor Company and General Motors.

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company outlines how it “intends to achieve carbon neutrality globally by 2050,”…. “doing its part to reduce CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and working with California for stronger greenhouse gas standards”.

From the Ford corporate website, we learn:

“To achieve its goal, Ford will focus on three areas that account for about 95 percent of its CO2 emissions – vehicle use, supply base and company’s facilities. To date, Ford is investing more than $11.5 billion in electric vehicles through 2022, including forthcoming zero-emission Mustang Mach-E, Transit Commercial and fully electric F-150. The company is on track to power all its manufacturing plants with 100 percent locally sourced renewable energy by 2035

Here’s a sound bite and good example that the way forward can embrace win-win thinking, rather than either-or visions of a livable future –“We can develop and make great vehicles, sustain and grow a strong business and protect our planet at the same time – in fact, those ideals complement each other,” said Bob Holycross, vice president, chief sustainability, environment and safety officer.” (

And, how about that cool job title for a senior executive of an auto manufacturing company – VP, Chief Sustainability, Environment and Safety Officer?  (More on emerging careers for the future later in this Blog post.)

Related news from the investment section of the Globe and Mail reporting on Ford Motor Company’s new membership in IRMA.

From the IRMA website we learn that, “The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) is the answer to a global demand for more socially and environmentally responsible mining.  IRMA offers true independent third-party verification and certification against a comprehensive standard for all mined materials that provides ‘one-stop coverage’ of the full range of issues related to the impacts of industrial-scale mines.”

“IRMA brings together downstream purchasers of mined materials with industrial scale mines of all types and sizes working towards responsible practices. These companies are leading the way in driving shared value for responsible mining globally.”

To access Ford Motor Company’s 54-page Sustainability Report 2020 –

What is the Mining-Automaking Connection?

In the Globe and Mail investment piece, “Ford states: ‘The (IRMA) membership is another step towards the company’s human rights aspiration to responsibly source all raw materials used within vehicles globally – a journey Ford has been taking steps toward for over 20 years.’ Ford noted this initiative will increase the company’s reliance on mined material, particularly related to production of electric vehicle batteries.” (

Clean Economy & Electric Vehicle Batteries

This CBC opinion piece by Helen Mountford and Richard Florizone, offers insight into the strategic importance of electric vehicle batteries, including whether Canada will be able to keep pace with the US on national domestic climate policy, given the author’s view that the “Biden-Harris administration’s proposed climate investments could dwarf Canada’s actions at home and abroad”.

“In addition to more aggressive targets on emissions, the roadmap calls for the two countries to align efforts to create jobs in the clean economy, including measures aimed at taking global leadership in battery development and production.”

“Other opportunities waiting to be seized include:

  • Boosting Canada’s clean energy sector, which grew 25 per cent faster than the broader energy sector from 2007-2017 and is a major job creator;
  • Modernizing and enhancing the productivity of key industries, such as steel and cement, to remain globally competitive;
  • Pivoting to new products, as Canada’s auto manufacturing sector is doing for ZEVs, and capitalizing on the country’s mineral resources in new ways.”
  • To read the opinion piece in full,

General Motors2040 Carbon Neutral Commitment

Setting an even more aggressive timeline than Ford Motor Company, we learn in this recent Globe and Mail article that General Motors, “the Largest US Automaker, Plans to be Carbon Neutral by 2040 in its global products and operations.” Like Ford Motor Company, the GM plan also links its actions directly to the Paris Climate Agreement (goals for 1.5C), in stating that:

  • “GM aspires to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035
  • GM has committed to the Business Ambition Pledge for 1.5⁰C” (a call to action from a global coalition of UN agencies, business and industry leaders)

“General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO. “We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole.”

To read the article in full,

Career Planning Anyone?

TED COUNTDOWN offers some positive news for young career planners –

“As more nations pledge to eliminate their carbon emissions, green jobs are projected to grow significantly.”

In this TED Countdown piece, it profiles “eight green jobs that can help us achieve a zero-carbon future.”

We will start by listing the eight here, elaborate a bit on each from TED COUNTDOWN, and return for more in-depth examinations of some in future Blog posts.

  • Wind Turbine Technicians
  • Solar Panel Installers
  • Electric Vehicle Workers
  • New Plastics Designers and Engineers
  • Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists
  • Urban Farmers
  • Green Building Retrofitters

Wind Turbine Technicians

“Wind projects will need to increase almost 10-fold globally by 2050 to stay within the Paris goal, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.”

“In the US, wind technician is projected to be the fastest-growing job from 2019 to 2029, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.” (TED Countdown,

Solar Panel Installers

“Hydropower is currently the largest source of renewable energy, but solar is expected to be the main driver of renewable energy growth through 2040 if the world complies with the Paris Agreement, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). ‘Solar [photovoltaics] is consistently cheaper than new coal- or gas-fired power plants in most countries, and solar projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen,’ according to IEA’s 2020 World Energy Outlook Report.” (TED Countdown,

We find this last statement to be really exciting!

As the saying goes, “money talks”.  Momentum for a significant shift toward clean energy sources just got a super-charged boost, in our view. It seems just a matter of time for the business case to prevail when clean energy is now “the lowest cost electricity” option of all.   Awesome news.

Electric Vehicle Workers

“Transportation creates more than 15 percent of global emissions. In some major economies, the sector’s emissions exceed those of electricity generation, says Energy Innovation.

“To meet the Paris goal, electric vehicle (EV) use would need to increase rapidly, from fewer than 10 million EVs today to more than 1.5 billion by 2050, according to an analysis of global climate policies by Morgan Bazilian and Dolf Gielen in The Conversation.” (TED Countdown,

Let’s pause for a moment to think about the implications of that staggering rate of growth – from 10 million to over 1.5 billion electric vehicles by 2050. Wow!

Hopefully consumers will benefit in multiple ways, including clean air and transportation, and lower price points for EVs given those production volumes….

New Plastics Designers and Engineers

“Our plastics obsession is exacerbating the climate crisis. Annual emissions from plastic production and incineration could exceed 2.75 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2050, according to the Center for International Environmental Law.”

“To combat this, we need to eliminate as much unnecessary plastic as we can, and completely rethink the plastic products that we still need, according to the New Plastics Economy project, a collaboration between more than a 1,000 governments, NGOs, universities and businesses.” (TED Countdown,

Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists

“In order to meet the Paris Agreement goals, we don’t only need to transition to clean energy, we also have to limit other sources of Earth-warming emissions. In the last 40 years, the wildfire season has lengthened across more than a quarter of the world. In some regions such as California, wildfires now occur nearly year-round.”

“In addition to ravaging homes and releasing toxic air pollution, wildfires release greenhouse gases into the air. That’s because trees and vegetation store carbon from the atmosphere, and when they burn, CO2, methane and nitrous oxide are released.” (TED Countdown,

Urban Farmers

“At least 55 percent of the world’s population already lives in cities and 80 percent of all food produced globally is destined for urban consumption. Urban farms — whether on roofs, empty lots or in warehouses — can help reduce emissions with locally grown produce, while increasing food security and nutrition in the neediest areas. They also convert CO2 where people live, reduce ambient temperature and improve livability. In addition, green roofs can provide insulation and manage storm runoff.”

“Innovative vertical farms are needed to grow plants in a controlled environment in cities while using fewer resources. In Copenhagen’s new 14-story Nordic Harvest vertical farm, organic herbs, lettuces and kale are being grown in water under LED lighting backed by 100 percent wind power. The farm uses 95 percent less water and 100 times less space than if the plants were grown in fields, according to the project start-up.” (TED Countdown,

Closer to home, here is a link to a 14-minute TVO video interview with Chelmsford, Ontario vertical farmer and owner Stephane Lanteigne –

Green Building Retrofitters

“Globally, the buildings and construction sector released 39 percent of CO2 emissions in 2018. In some dense cities such as New York, existing buildings account for 70 percent of emissions because of heating, cooling and electricity use. To meet the Paris Agreement goals, climate emissions from buildings must be eliminated by 2040, according to the sustainability think tank, Architecture 2030.”

“Retrofitting old leaky buildings will be key, with some two-thirds of the buildings that have currently been constructed still existing in 2050. Green retrofitters improve buildings in many ways — such as by adding insulation or making the best use of natural light — and will be in high demand. In New York City alone, a 2019 law to cut carbon emissions in big buildings is expected to create 26,700 green jobs by 2030.”

“Green retrofitters might be experienced contractors, or qualified independent professionals. In the UK, such qualified professionals are known as retrofit coordinators and are architects, building asset managers, building services engineers, building surveyors, construction managers, energy assessors and consultants or site supervisors — all with extra training.” (TED Countdown,

Readers may be interested in a related past Blog post on, “Buildings: Retrofits and Innovations (July 30, 2020)” —

More to come on green building retrofitting and urban farming in next week’s Blog.

Monty Don and Gardeners’ World

Thank you to Leslie for putting this piece in the New York Times on “How a British Gardening Show Got People Through the Pandemic,” about BBC’s Gardeners’ World show on our radar.

How have we not known about it for 53 seasons (running since 1968) ?! Well, never too late to begin, as they say, and now we know just in time to catch the first episode of a new season on Friday March 19th.

New York Times article: BBC website:

A reminder, just one month to go until Earth Day 2021April 22nd.

This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth” (

Canadian Small Modular Reactors

As countries race against the clock to find ways to become carbon neutral by 2050, all possible solutions are on the table. One piece of the puzzle is the development of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors which are described in Canada as the “next wave of innovation in nuclear energy technology.” SMRs can help Canada meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

In Canada these SMRs can have many roles. They can replace larger nuclear reactors as they are decommissioned (since they are modular, and can be combined), can replace coal plants, can provide energy and heat to remote Indigenous communities, can be used to desalinate water, can play a role in the production of hydrogen, and in industry can provide energy for projects that rely on diesel such as heat for oil sands production. The technology is still in the early phases in Canada. 

“SMRs are basically smaller-than-usual nuclear reactors that are sometimes considered safer due to their size. They generate less than 300 megawatts of electricity (MWe) per reactor, and can be small enough to fit in a gymnasium, so they can operate in areas where less power is required. An SMR could even provide power to off-grid locations where power needs are only between two and 30 MWe. Canada’s current nuclear reactors supply between 515 and 881 MWe. SMRs are called “modular” because they can operate individually, or collectively as part of a larger nuclear complex. Multiple SMRs can be set up at a single nuclear plant to supply a similar level of power as larger generators, which means a nuclear power plant could be expanded gradually, as demand increases.”

“SMRs are intended to be constructed in part or in whole in a factory and then shipped to the site. This could allow for cheaper construction and shorter construction times, according to the World Nuclear Association. Many of them are also designed to reside underground, making them less susceptible to natural disasters or terrorist attacks. They are also inherently safer, according to the World Nuclear Association, thanks to their higher surface area to volume ratio, when compared to larger reactors. Basically, they don’t get as hot, so there is less need to manufacture a heat-removal system and other advanced safety features. They also require a smaller emergency planning zone.”

There are two main concerns about these SMRs. First is cost, as it is yet to be determined if they will be cost effective.  Secondly, as with reactors of any size, nuclear waste can remain radioactive for as long as 100,000 years.

“The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that there are around 50 SMR designs at different stages of development around the world, with Argentina, China and Russia ahead of other countries.”

“The provinces hope that the technology can be developed and built within seven years. The Canadian Nuclear Safety commission is reviewing the designs of about a dozen companies, as part of the pre-licensing process, but none are actually close to being able to build an SMR. Still, the Canadian Small Modular Reactor Roadmap published by the federal government last year predicted that the country’s nuclear industry is poised to capture a significant share of the emerging global market by 2040.”

In December 2020 Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan unveiled the federal government’s action plan for the development of small modular nuclear reactors that he said have the potential to produce enough reliable electricity to help Canada achieve its transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Nuclear power is essential to meeting Canada’s climate-change goals, and developing portable mini nuclear reactors is a key part of that strategy”, the federal energy minister said on Friday. In announcing an “action plan” for developing small modular reactors, Seamus O’Regan said  “I believe in the development of this technology. You’ve got to lay the groundwork for that now.”  First steps in the plan is developing prototypes and demonstration models. O’Regan insisted Canada, as a leader in nuclear technology, can’t afford to ignore the potential benefits of the new reactors. 

Proponents, such as the Provinces of Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, see SMRs as potentially part of the regular electricity grid as well as for use in remote locations, including industrial sites and isolated northern communities. As well, the federal government estimates the global market for SMRs will be worth between $150 billion and $300 billion a year by 2040 but critics question the validity of the estimate as they wonder who exactly might want one. 

Dozens of groups, including opposition parties, some Indigenous organizations and environmentalists, want the government to fight climate change by investing more in renewable energy and energy efficiency rather than in the new reactors. They argue nuclear energy costs far too much money and is far from clean given the growing mound of radioactive waste it generates.

The more Lucy reads about the best strategies in the race against time to reach carbon neutrality in the world, the more she recognizes that there is a need to use all of the available strategies together, including less ideal ones such as nuclear energy. She never in a million years thought she would support nuclear energy!

Shanthi’s Moon Garden

Happy first week in March!

Spring beckons….hurrah.

We both are looking forward excitedly to a new, second gardening season ahead, having both caught the vegetable gardening bug last year for the first time.

We were fortunate to be guided last year by our friends and guest bloggers who shared generously of their time, knowledge and tips for success. Their gardening scope and knowledge was vast – from flowers to trees to vegetables to fruit trees and bushes.

Links to Our Gardening Blogs of 2020

Here are quick links to these past blogs for anyone who wants a quick refresher and/or inspiration for the upcoming planting season. Shout outs and our thanks again to guest bloggers Wanda, Shanthi, Audrey, Leslie and Ross.

Gentle Spring Blooms (Guest Blogger, Wanda, April 2, 2020)

Gardening Therapy, Community and Climate Action (Guest Bloggers Audrey, Shanthi, Leslie and Ross, May 14, 2020)

Vegetable Gardening 101 – Part Two (Guest Bloggers Audrey and Shanthi, May 21, 2020)

Favourite Fruit Trees – Part One (May 28, 2020)

Growing Your Own Fruit Trees – Part Two (Guest Blogger Shanthi, June 4, 2020)

Catherine is thinking about adding a raspberry patch to her garden this year, and found the June 4, 2020 blog to be a timely reminder and review of tips for success. This will include patience and taking the long view, as it would be 2022 before any berries are produced for harvesting by plants that are planted in the 2021 season.

Shanthi’s Moon Garden

As a fledgling gardener, Catherine was intrigued when she learned about her friend and veteran gardener, Shanthi’s plans for a moon garden. All the more so, upon learning that Shanthi had not set out to plant a moon garden….”It just happened…”

We are excited to bring you a narrated walk through Shanthi’s Moon Garden in this 7-minute videoclip – we find it so inspiring to witness her creative process in action and see her multi-year vision begin to take shape so quickly already in one growing season. She began planting and creating it last summer, and at our request she took this video walk through her garden in Fall 2020, in order to share generously once again with our Readers. Thank you as well to her son, Iniyan, who so thoughtfully added a slide show at the end to help us identify and name all these many, many plants with white flowers and silver foliage. We can just imagine their beautiful shimmer, fragrant blossoms and magical, calming spell cast under a bright moon light! Enjoy!

Catherine especially loves the name of the “Magical Avalanche Coralberry” plant shown in Iniyan’s slide show. For gardening season 2021 she plans on sticking to vegetables and perhaps branching out to add a fruit. But the moon garden ‘seed’ has been planted in her imagination and you just never know where it may lead in seasons to come…..We look forward to learning more and watching Shanthi’s Moon Garden in bloom later this year.

What a magical space Shanthi has created in her home in Ontario, and we look forward to seeing photos or another video of this amazing garden when it is established and in full bloom both in the daylight and under the light of the full moon. Here is a list of the flowers she used:

  • Artmisia
  • Garlic Chives
  • Bamboo Green Panda
  • Variegated Bishop’s Weed
  • Variegated Hosta
  • Magical Avalanche Coralberry
  • White Creeping Thyme
  • Creeping Baby’s Breath
  • Butterfly Bush (White Profusion)
  • Variegated Ground Ivy
  • Bridal Wreath Spirea
  • White Drift Rose

For those curious to read and learn more about Moon Gardens as a ‘thing,’ thanks go to Nora for sharing this informative article on ‘Silver Herbs,’ by Sandra Henry in The Magazine Rack. Sandra starts her piece with a poem and then goes on to share her plant knowledge for creating what she describes as – “A moon garden is a romantic and enchanted place that has been planted with silver and grey herbs, utilized for their light reflecting qualities.”

Happy garden dreaming, planning and planting to all!

Women for Forests: A Special Initiative

March 8 is International Women’s Day. One Tree Planted writes, “Women play a vital role in mitigating climate change. Especially when it comes to reforestation!”

“In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th, One Tree Planted and Planet Women are uniting with female smallholder farmers to plant trees, support healthy communities, and restore the environment.”

“When women are empowered with resources for forest restoration and management, the resulting benefits are more productive farms, healthier families, greater biodiversity and carbon sequestration potential, cleaner water resources, and more resilient communities.” To learn more about the Women for Forests initiative, including how you might donate (one tree planted for every dollar donated), go to