E3 Sustainability Summit Reveals Local Innovation

I attended the E3 Sustainability Summit at Georgian Downs on the weekend. This was a first-time effort for the local organizers and the event may have slipped under the radar for a lot people. Still, it was refreshing to discover some innovative enterprises in our area. Here are a few that caught my attention …

Oil Seed Agri-Products

I wrote in my earlier article [Why Farming in Innisfil Has a Future] about the potential for growing crops as a feedstock for the production of biofuel. I was surprised and interested to discover that a company in our area, Oilseed Works Inc., has been producing biodiesel from flax seed, hemp seed, and sunflower seed. The biodiesel powers the farm machinery used to grow the oil seeds. The oil extraction process also yields milled edible flours of flax, hemp and sunflowers. These are sold under the name, Flour Power. Flour Power received the City of Toronto’s Food Policy Council’s Local Food Hero award in February, 2009.

The company also makes a natural, oil-based wood finishing product.

Rainwater and Grey Water Recycling

Water supply is a major concern in Innisfil. Places like Cookstown and Innisfil Heights have been waiting for years for an increased municipal supply. Debate has revolved around where and when to build the big pipes to the locations where it’s needed, and how to pay the substantial cost. But there is an environmentally responsible alternative to increasing the municipal water supply.

Rainwater / grey water recycling systems provide an opportunity to reduce overall water consumption by up to 55%. That can translate into savings of 25 to 55% on a municipal water bill.

  • Rainwater harvesting is the collection and storage of rainwater for later use.
  • Grey water is waste water from baths, showers, and laundry machines. It is safely filtered and treated before being reused for other purposes such as flushing toilets, irrigation, cleaning of surfaces, or washing vehicles.

Such a system should be of interest to commercial users of water such as restaurants, or any location with public washrooms such as a mall. Builders could significantly reduce the total water demand of their new housing projects. Greywater and rainwater recycling systems suitable for residential and commercial installations were featured at the show by WaterSmart Solutions.

At the Summit, I learned that the City of Guelph has been sponsoring a pilot program for the installation of 30 greywater systems, offering a rebate of $1,500 on a first-come basis to anyone installing an approved system.

Pre-cast Concrete Building System

A Barrie inventor (In-Wall Building Systems Inc.) with multiple patents displayed his innovative system that can combine a poured concrete foundation with a wall and floor system into a single integral unit using special pre-cast concrete panels. It’s difficult to briefly describe this technology but it has several claimed advantages:

  • Fewer materials: The technology uses only 30% of the concrete needed for a poured concrete or ICF foundation.
  • Environmentally friendly: the system uses recycled glass pellets (processed in Innisfil) mixed into the concrete as well as recycled styrofoam in the insulating layers
  • Efficient: faster to install than conventional construction; Does not require interior wall framing. Drywall installs directly over the interior; conceals up to R32 insulation and mechanical/electrical systems within a 9.5” wall space increasing the useable interior space in the same exterior dimensions – equal to an ‘extra room’
  • Warmer, dryer, dust-free floor blocks moisture, mould, and odour in basement
  • Structural integrity: the system forms a continuous, belted steel reinforced ‘one piece’ structure.
  • Cost effective

I learned at the Summit that Innisfil is home to at least one In-Wall building. The company would like to hear from builders interested to know more technical details about this patented building system.

[disclosure: I have no personal or financial interest in any company mentioned here. Product descriptions are based on the companies’ published literature]