August 2015

23Aug 2015

Telecon launches an employee brand in recognition their efforts – Smart

It’s always nice to see a company recognize it’s employees in some way, especially in a public way. Telecon, a Montreal based telecommunications company has been in business for 40 years. Telecon officially launched its employee brand SMART e along with its promotional logo.  The organization acquires an image and a trademark that are representatives of women and men currently working within the company.  At the same time, it gives to people wishing to be part of Telecon’s team an idea of looked-for attributes and state of mind.

A great big “high five” to Telecon for recognizing it’s employees!!!!

Read more here: Telecon Employee Brand – Smart

17Aug 2015

How to start a Co-operative from scratch

This is the first post in a series to educate and inform the average layman on how to start a co-operative (co-op) company.

As we are located in the Province of Ontario, Canada, we will demonstrate the process in accordance with our local regulations.

Your area will be under different regulations and we suggest you Google like we did: “co-operative associations company regulations Ontario” or visit the International Co-operative Alliance here: International Co-operative Alliance

Our local regulations are here:

Starting an Ontario Co-operative

From the text on the page

“There are number of critical steps to follow if you are interested in forming a co-operative. You may already have a core group of people with whom you are working. You may already be a business but would like to convert to a co-operative structure. Perhaps you are not sure what kind of business structure you want.

On Co-op has created Guide to Starting a Co-op, which provides a general overview of the co-op development process that can help you explore the steps required to plan, develop, incorporate and launch your co-operative. This guide can be downloaded at the top right of this page. Some of the text in this section is based on information from the Co-operatives Secretariat and the BC Co-operative Association.”

The legal and domain name for our co-operative will be called:

We chose to use the domain name as our legal name because it provides unique legal name and provides marketing at the same time.

We then found that the Financial Services Commission of Ontario is where we need to register:

Fincancial Services Commission Ontario

We needed to read information on the type of co-op to register, how to fund the co-op, what is required, etc.

For people in Ontario wishing to register and incorporate an Co-operative, here is the complete pdf from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario. Registering a Co-operative in Ontario

What type of financing should you consider

In accordance with the pdf suggested, we will choose to start a Co-op and finance it through equity. This means that we can sell shares (to future members) and put their membership fee towards the financing of the co-operative, the equipment, community projects. This step is an important decision at the start as we will need to incorporate the Co-operative with share capital. (page 7 of this Incorporating info).

We chose to use membership share to raise equity. Membership Shares (page 8). A person becomes a member of the co-operative after paying $1,000.00 to the Co-op.

The funds will be used to finance community projects and activities based on sustainability and the member will have a return on their investment through dividends paid to it’s members.

The business plan is to source local companies that are trying to commercialize sustainability products and services centered on community involvement. Staff and members of would source, investigate and recommend products, services or projects that are in the best interest of members.

The co-op can also require members to use some or all of their patronage returns to buy more shares. By doing so, the co-op can ensure that its equity grows each year, provided of course that the co-op has earned enough to pay patronage returns in the first place. Another way for the co-op to use its own earnings to increase its equity is to pay out dividends in the form of shares rather than cash. Dividends paid out in the form of shares are called stock dividends. Stock dividends allow the co-op to pay dividends and add to its equity capital at the same time. Members may find stock dividends more appealing than other investors.

For more information about co-operatives in your area, contact your local Chamber of Commerce or use Google to find your area association or legal agency.

In the next post we will share with you: what are Articles of incorporation, where to register, the fees, etc.

13Aug 2015

Indian College turns grandmothers into Engineers

By Rupam Jain Nair

It gives no degrees and the teachers and pupils often do not share a common language, but India’s Barefoot College has been transforming the lives of rural women for four decades.

Located in Tilonia village, 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the capital of the western desert state of Rajasthan, Barefoot is a collection of environmentally friendly dome-shape buildings.

Inside, about a dozen teachers give classes in subjects ranging from the basics of solar engineering, dentistry, mechanics or public health, to radio DJing.

All the pupils sitting on the floor or leaning on old desks are women, some of them illiterate grandmothers from remote villages. Almost everyone is poor, many are unable to read or write, and some come from as far away as Tanzania.

Barefoot was started by social entrepreneur Sanjit “Bunker” Roy in 1972 and has been breaking taboos ever since, educating women who are often second-class citizens discouraged from getting an education.

Magan Kanwar, who teaches solar engineering, remembers being told by her father-in-law she should focus on knitting sweaters rather than dreaming of attending the school.

“But I just wanted to do something more than cooking and producing babies. This college gave me a chance to find the purpose of my life,” she told AFP.

Lots of the women at the school have heavy-drinking and abusive husbands, she says, meaning their studies give them some independence and crucially can secure an income and a future for their children.

“If there’s no food for their kids at least the women can work and look after them, educate them, run the household,” she explained.

See the video here: Indian college turns rural grandmothers into Engineers

13Aug 2015

An interview with Andrew Bowerbank of Ellis Don Sustainable Building Services

Wendy Reed: Mr. Bowerbank, can you please offer a summary of a few areas where our economies are failing to meet the environmental imperative?

Andrew Bowerbank: By reviewing the efforts of some of the leading sectors driving a transformation towards “environmental” strategies, green building design has been at the forefront of collaborative thinking that has the potential to drive change. The building construction sector is a $4.7trillion global industry, yet only 8% of all construction and renovation can be classified as green. We compare this to only 6% of transportation driven by Alt fuels and only 15% of energy generated by renewables.

Even with the success of tools such as LEED, Energy Star and others, we have been unable to transform markets. Yet populations will reach 9 billion by 2050 (of which today 900 million at risk of starvation), energy use will double, farm land the size of Brazil will be needed (it does not exist), and temps are expected to rise 2-3 degrees.

Why have we not been able to drive change? What does low-carbon economic thinking look like for Canada? I led a group of 50 CEOs in 2010 to discussed this very point. This was an eye opening deliberation with 4 definitive outcomes needed to drive change -None of which is taking place in today’s market:

  1. better communications needed across sectors
  2. find a common voice / a common interest
  3. celebrate successes (we are terrible at this in Canada)
  4. ensure participants get a return on investment

WR: You have spent some time in China meeting with senior officials and keynoting conferences, can you provide your view of strategic efforts in China?

AB: Here is the Situation:

  1. China’s Population =1.3 billion
  2. 17 cities with pop over 2million
  3. Currently building cities to house 30million
  4. China’s Energy:
  • 21% of global energy (USA 19%, India 4.4%)
  • 880GW of total gen capacity
  • CO2 emissions doubled in last 6 years
  • 562 new coal fired plants under construction
  • 90GW gen will be added by 2020 –size of Germany’s total capacity

Although there are dramatic issues to be faced by China, they are striving to do something about it. China now a global leader in clean technology investments. Investments have grown 77% per year since 2008. China’s Leadership is striving to find ways to reduce fossil fuel dependence whereever possible; they are looking to other countries to find solutions through new strategies and technologies, but it is not easy with the size and population of China…

WR: Do you see any creative innovations within a reasonable time frame which could address the increasing CO2 emissions challenge in a major way?

AB: In order to drive change we need systems thinking. Technology is advancing very quickly; we need to leverage these advancements to support low carbon strategies. Very soon many of our cars will be plugging into a building and drawing energy from a grid. Strategies need to support that will ensure the buildings and grid are smart, renewables offset peak loads (even better, charge the vehicles), and the cars educate the consumer. Systems thinking comes from nature. The field of biomimicry is a new design science that will have us learn from natural systems. Today’s built enviro must adopt biomimicry and transform from a parasitic state to an ecosystem.

How to adopt systems thinking? Examples:

  • Collaboration across sectors for a common cause.
    • ie buildings and infrastructure –owners/developers/users. We spend 90% of our time in a building; it should be a point of common interest!
    • DCL Healthcare project: striving for 70% better energy savings and latest green targets to support healthcare. Will replicate across Canada.
    • 3P initiatives to support developments (Canada global leaders in 3P Projects), we need to look to leadership projects showing success including Partners in Project Green, Carbon Neutral, and the Archetype Sustainable House hosted by TRCA, BILD, Enbridge Gas and others.

WR: Will companies see economic advantages as opposed to increased costs in “greening” their own growth paths?

AB: It is imperative that we do. There needs to be a return on investment that is attractive to companies or we will only keep clean technologies on the fringe of the market. Only a transformation of the market will have lasting impact and these changes need to happen in our lifetime. We have seen effective market transformations in a generation before, so we know this can happen. Examples: analog to digital, medial genomics, smaller –auto sector carb to fuel injection. Never before has triple bottom line thinking been more important, but this time environment cannot be the driver, economic strategies and profit targets need to be the driver.

We also need to consider the transition process. We cannot expect instant shifts, but ROI can foster rapid shifts. We can see strategic starting points for corporations taking place:

We can look to Loyalty One for example of internal corporate change:

  • Expanded Work at Home program – 47% of our Customer Care associates now work at home.
  • Reduced CO2 emissions by 8% per associate.
  • Reduced waste by more than 5% after implementing a
    four-channel waste management system.
  • Recently achieved LEED Gold Commercial Interiors Certification for our Calgary office.
  • Collected and recycled 850 pounds of electronic waste in the first month of our pilot e-waste program at our Corporate Head Office.

We can look to Magna as an example for external corporate change:

  • Largest Auto parts supplier in the world with over 350 manufacturing centres globally.
  • Committing to diversify 20% to non automotive.
  • Sees renewable technology as primary opportunity. Now working with Ontario, USA, etc to develop large scale solar energy farms through their Closures and Cosma divisions.
  • Also work developing in Wind, LED lighting, other.

Transformation takes place when both paths merge and balance: Interface is a great corporate example of this:

The mission [of Interface] is “to eliminate all negative environmental impact by the year 2020”. That means no more use of non-renewable energy, only using recycled materials in our products, zero waste to landfill, zero environmental footprint. Nadine Gudz of Interface said. “We’re about 60 per cent there.”

WR: The global community currently uses a little over 16 terawatts ( TW) of energy at any one moment in time. That is the base energy load. (We are told that the earth absorbs approximately 120000 TW of solar energy at the same time).

Can the alternative of clean green energy, which contributes a small percentage currently, serve as an effective response to global energy needs? Does it include hydro and nuclear and possibly in the future, fusion?

AB: Apr 23, 2012 -UN chief Ban Ki-moon made a call to double global consumption of renewable energy over the next two decades in order to ensure sustainable economic development. “It’s possible if we show political leadership,” Ban said about the goal that falls under a sustainable energy initiative aiming to have universal access to power by 2030.

Read more: What will it take for industry to transform markets to low-carbon industry?

12Aug 2015

Raspberry Pi – mini data center cluster

First unveiled at the Big Bang Fair 2015, the Raspberry Pi Bramble is another example of GCHQ’s ability to combine innovation with education.

How the Bramble was born

As their winning entry into an internal invention competition intended to stimulate innovation, three GCHQ technologists chose to build a Raspberry Pi cluster computer, known as a ‘Bramble’.
Research indicated that existing similar projects tended to be one-off designs, with no commercial or reproducible hardware components, and generally set up to perform one specific task.

Design approach

The GCHQ design is for a commodity-based cluster, consisting of one or more ‘blocks’ of Pis that can stand alone or be connected together to form a larger cluster. It is designed to be easy to build and service, with a software stack that allows multiple tasks to be run across the available processors using multiple technologies.

How the Bramble is formed

The basic block is made up of eight networked Raspberry Pis, which GCHQ has termed an ‘OctaPi’. This number was chosen taking into account power and cooling requirements, area, weight, accessibility, simplicity and aesthetics.
The boards are powered using  the ‘Power over Ethernet’ (PoE) standard to reduce the number of cables and power supplies needed, with each Pi also driving a large LED display, used to display the status of the system.

Read more: Raspberry Pi cluster network