Why the Pocket Change Project is Encouraging Us To Do Home Energy Retrofits

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Dear Neighbours,

We’ve been geeking out here at the Pocket Change Project for the past few years and have learned a ton that we’re eager to share with you but we thought it might be useful to do a kind of “back to basics “ post for those of you who don’t eat, sleep and dream GHG reductions.

What are GHG’s?

GHG stands for Greenhouse Gases. These are the gases (mostly CO2 but also methane and others) that are released when we burn fossil fuels (or in the case of methane, during the production of fossil fuels or when organic matter rots or cows “toot”). These gases form a kind of layer or blanket around the earth, trapping heat in our atmosphere (like a greenhouse). This is causing the planet to warm at a dangerous, exponential rate, wreaking havoc on all the eco-systems around the globe and threatening the very future of life on earth. Yup. Downer.

Many people don’t know that in Toronto, home heating and to a lesser extent, water heating, are the main culprits in the city’s GHG emissions. According to the City of Toronto, the gas we burn to heat our homes and buildings is responsible for 42% of the GTA’s total GHG emissions! 42%! (Source: The Star).

In contrast, the electricity we use comes from 90% non-GHG-emitting sources (a combination of hydro, wind, solar and nuclear). In fact, Ontario has one of the cleanest electrical grids on the planet!

So, it’s our home heating we really have to tackle. That’s where home energy retrofits come in.

Home Energy Retrofits – Doing what’s necessary to reduce our homes’ GHG emissions – from air sealing/insulation all the way to electrifying our home heating systems

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) – hands down the most respected source of climate science on the planet – has said we have 10 years to cut our emissions in half and 30 years to cut them to zero or face irreversible climate catastrophe (Source: The Guardian).

If we can figure out, as a neighbourhood, how to bring to bring down the costs and simplify the process of home energy retrofits, we can share our experience and knowledge with other neighbourhoods in the country and be part of the solution in a profound way, beyond just improving our own little pocket.

Stay tuned for ways to learn more and/or get involved in The Pocket Change Project!

Greenly yours,
The Pocket Change Executive Committee


Pocket Change Update

Friday, June 26, 2020

Dear Neighbours,

The Pocket Change Project will be ramping up its activities again soon!

For those of you who don’t know, The Pocket Change Project is the Eco-Committee of the PCA. We came together 3 years ago to inform, inspire and activate our amazing neighbourhood around the project of reducing our carbon footprint. Some of you may have eaten bugs and tested a neighbour’s Tesla at our Eco Fun Fairs, or sipped wine at our green energy information sessions or “Pocket Parties”.

But we have also been chipping away behind the scenes at a more ambitious plan.

We hope to pilot a community-based approach to home retrofits. We want to make the process of retrofitting our homes cheaper, easier and more accessible for the entire neighbourhood. We have been building partnerships with various levels of government to help us do this and are expecting to hear some funding news very soon! Fingers crossed.

But even without funding, we are committed to ramping up our activities and outreach! We miss you! We are in the midst of overhauling our webpage and launching a bi-monthly blog about Pocket Change to keep you informed, educated and inspired on all things green energy-related and invite you to participate in whatever ways you wish! There’s lots for you to do! In many ways, grappling with this pandemic has been a dress rehearsal for the kind of collective action that will be required to tackle climate change. We’re flattening the COVID curve – we can flatten the CO2 curve, too! We’re greener together!

Scroll to the bottom of this page to read more about our plan, Pocket Change Not Climate Change.

As always, if you want to become more involved in Pocket Change, contact pocketchange@thepocket.ca.

Greenly yours,
The Pocket Change Executive Committee

Pocket Change logo


Pocket Change Meeting

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

When: Thursday, January 23rd, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Indigenous Education Centre/ Wandering Spirit School, Room 123

Parliament declared a climate emergency. City Council declared a climate emergency. How many years will it be before the gas is cut off?

There’s a group of us who want to make sure we’re ready — with all homes in the Pocket so well insulated we can afford to heat them electrically.

The City is helping us pilot this community-based approach. The Federal Government promised support for home retrofits — our MP is checking it out.

Pocket Change now has 112 members. We meet this Thursday at 7pm in Room 123 at the Indigenous Education Centre / Wandering Spirit School — join us! Enter via the main door at the front — we be in a large room at the far south end of the building.

Format:
1. Welcome and Introduction to the evening
2. Video – A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
3. Introduce yourself to your neighbours – share with those at your table
4. The Pocket Baseline Survey
5. The City Presents
6. Question and Answer session
7. Get involved – We need people to:
a) Help survey our current home energy consumption
b) Help Pocket people discover their personal carbon footprint using Project Neutral
c) Develop new communications materials — e.g., blog
d) Organize more Pocket Parties!
– learn about how to retrofit our homes
– investigate the viability of air-sourced heat pumps
– explore the financing available for community retrofitting projects
– research the viability of a district energy system using ground source heat pumps tapping into underground streams
e) Encourage Pocket Pioneers to demonstrate energy conservation options

For more info, email pocketchange@thepocket.ca


Pocket Change in NOW Magazine

Welcome to Canada’s greenest neighbourhood
(September 16, 2019)

The Pocket has a lofty goal: to make the neighbourhood the first net-zero emissions community in Toronto – and to show the rest of the country how to do it. Check out Natalia Manzocco’s article in NOW Magazine from September 16, 2019, here: Canada’s Greenest Neighbourhood.

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(Image: NOW Magazine, September 16, 2019)


Eco Fun Fair

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

The Pocket Change Project held a very successful Eco Fun Fair on June 16th, 2019. Among a whole host of activities, the event had entertainment for the kids and a presentation/discussion on the Green New Deal for adults. The Pocket continues to strive to make our community and world a more environmentally-sustainable place.


Pocket Change Party #2

May 11th, 2019

One of the Pocket’s Green Gurus, Paul Dowsett, Principal Architect at Sustainable – Architecture for a Healthy Planet, is hosting a Pocket Change Party.
He will lead a tour of his NET ZERO home, and field questions about the latest innovations in sustainable home building practice and what he has learned over the years.

When: Saturday, May 11th – 10-11:30am

RSVP liisarepo5@hotmail.com

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The Pocket Change Project’s first Party for the Planet!

April 25th, 2019

Your lovely neighbours on Jones, Lori and Michael, are hosting a Pocket Change Party.

When: Thursday, April 25th, 7pm to 8:30pm
Where: 513 Jones Ave

pocketParty_1_web

Folks from the City will be giving a presentation there called: Energy Retrofit 101.
A detailed look at the types of retrofits available (from heating and cooling to renewables) for residential homes, general costs and their impact on your home and the environment. This will also include the importance of getting an EnerGuide energy assessment.

RSVP liisarepo5@hotmail.com


 

Pocket Parties

Hello Pocket Peeps,

The Pocket Change Project wants you to party for the planet! We launched the project in June 2018 to get the Pocket off fossil fuels and make us Toronto’s Greenest Neighbourhood.

If you would like to host a party in your home educating yourselves and your neighbours on some aspect of green energy you’ve always wanted to know more about, the Pocket Change Project has an offer you can’t beat!

We have a little money from Transform TO, (the municipal initiative to encourage Toronto to radically reduce our carbon footprint), to fund such gatherings! Not only will we pay for your refreshments (within reason), we have a ton of resources we can share with you!

You may want to make use of the FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera on loan from the City. It allows you to see where heat is escaping from your home — or where cold air is getting in. (See who’s hot and who’s not!)

Want to know more about solar? Want to share a documentary on sustainability issues with your neighbours and start a conversation?

Want to know the cheapest ways to make the biggest difference in your energy efficiency? Want some help (from an actual person and not a website) figuring out what rebates you can and can’t expect from green investments in your home?

Also, if you have recently been through a retrofit renovation, solar installation, EV purchase and have experiences you would like to share, we could organize a Pocket Party around that!

Get in touch with us and we’ll get the ball rolling!

Email Liisa at liisarepo@icloud.com with your name, street and party idea or let us know any questions you may have.

 


 

Pocket Change not Climate Change

Help our neighbourhood become a carbon-neutral community

 

Who are the people behind Pocket Change?
• Click here to read more about The Pocket Change Team

 

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Flyer Tabloid-2

This roadmap describes our plans to roll-out the project over the next five years:

 

Read on for information about:

• Reducing the Pocket’s carbon footprint
• A proposed community-based approach
• What’s included
• Next steps
• A brief history of the project

Reducing our carbon footprint

Many Pocket residents are concerned about climate change and are anxious to help reduce our carbon footprints. The first step is energy conservation, and the simplest and most cost-effective way to do that is to retrofit our homes. This includes plugging air leaks, installing new windows, adding insulation, improving heating and cooling systems, purchasing high-efficiency appliances, and setting up alternative water-heating installations.

Community-based approach

While there are government grants to help individual homeowners retrofit their homes, the Pocket Community Association’s Energy and Environment Committee fears that an individualized approach will not achieve the results that our governments are seeking or that the Earth requires. We believe that community-based solutions can have a greater impact for less money. We are proposing a more innovative approach to achieve economies of scale by doing many homes at once.

When we took our idea to City Hall with the help of Councillor Fletcher, the response was “great project” “perfect timing,” and “we will help.” Their Energy & Environment Division has offered to create a community energy plan for the Pocket.We want to audit how much energy each home is currently using, so we have a baseline. The next step is to conduct a feasibility study on how best to retrofit our homes and meet their remaining energy needs, perhaps with a district heating system.

What’s included

While our initial focus is to retrofit the 1,100 homes in the Pocket, we also want to outreach to the First Nations School, the Madinah Mosque, and the shops along the Danforth.

We will need support and potential participants: households interested in a deep retrofit of their home and district heating and cooling. We want to hear from you!
For more information, please contact David Langille at langille@yorku.ca

Next steps

A community town hall will be held in January 2018 to introduce the Pocket Change project to the neighbourhood. Stay tuned for information about the date and location. If you are on the PCA’s email list, you’ll receive town hall information by email.

We also hope to start a blog so you’ll be updated regularly!

Brief history of the Pocket Change project

The initiative was discussed with PCA members at the AGM in June 2017. The Energy and Environment Committee had expanded to look at ambitious idea for addressing climate change right here in the Pocket –calling it the “Pocket Change” project. Key information presented at the AGM included:

• Donald Trump may be the only human left who still denies that our climate is changing due to our consumption of fossil fuels.
• Buildings account for roughly 22% of green house gas emissions. The easiest and cheapest way of reducing GHGs is to better insulate our buildings.
• The Ontario Government and City of Toronto are offering funds to help do that. Experience suggests that it’s cheaper and more effective to do this on a community-wide basis.
• The Energy and Environment Committee will return to the PCA with recommendations for a feasibility study into how we can make the Pocket a carbon-free or “net zero” community – funding is available for such studies.