Come on Design World! – Let’s do The ZEROprize

I wrote about Zerofootprint, their initiatives, and most recently the ZEROprize  a few months back.  I’d not heard of Zerofootprint before covering the media launch of this initiative.  I’ve since become a follower and fan of their persuit to educate and bring about change on a local and international, global scale.

The founder has a background in software development and is using that to engage individuals, businesses and entire cities with their carbon footprint tracking software.  We are an age of instant gratification and need for speed.  This software allows us to track ourselves and homes and compare with others in our city and across the globe.  It’s remarkable to me that the ability to track our jogging patterns and distances has us buying $100.00 wrist bands, but we can’t seem to get on board to track our earth fit patterns for free.  We’re guilty in my house! 

One Minute Calculator:
Personal Carbon Manager:

Mayor Miller helped in the announcement of The ZEROprize, and himself committed to re-skinning 1000 inefficient existing city buildings.  The city strike was not a high point for us Torontonians, but let’s remember to focus on the real innovation happening in our city and the support directed on all levels.  In his presidential campaign, Barak Obama set out a goal of making all US buildings carbon neutral or zero emissions by 2030.  Grand gestures!

Several submissions have already been made (below) and I challenge you to challenge others to get involved.  This competition is international and needs to pull from that broad spectrum of knowledge, materials and technology to really reach full effectiveness and in the end make broad movements forward.

About The ZEROprize:

North America’s existing building infrastructure accounts for up to 40% of all greenhouse gases produced in the United States and Canada. In cities that figure can surpass 65%. Older buildings while structurally sound often waste precious energy and are a major source of the greenhouse gas emissions polluting our cities.

Zerofootprint is offering the ZEROprize to the design team who can take an older concrete high-rise structure and, using re-skinning along with other retrofitting technologies, reduce its carbon, water, and energy footprint to net zero while also maintaining the highest architectural design standards.    

read more……



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One-of-a-kind Recycled Area Rugs


I saw this article on Designer Pages and love the concept and the products. 

RAW rugs. Designed by Todd and Meg van der Kruik of Union Eighteen. Husband and wife team Todd and Meg van der Kruik began Union Eighteen in 2007 as a response to “waste.” Their product RAW redefines the term completely, since it uses “scrap collected during the commercial manufacturing process that would normally be discarded.” Union Eighteen compiles the castoff material and repurposes it, crafting it into one-of-a-kind, handmade area rugs. 





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Re-Skinning our City Green: Creatives are Leading us to a Cleaner Future


Daniel Pink proclaims this to be, the age of the Creatives.  The big thinkers, big picture approach will pull us through these transitional times.  They will guide us from our somewhat broken reality into a smarter, richer, and cleaner future.

Ron Dembo, has always been a big thinker.  His previous career saw him start-up and grow to be the largest enterprise risk-management software company in the world.  He’s had a ten-year academic career at Yale University, where he was cross-appointed between the Department of Computer Science and the School of Management; in addition to an excess of sixty published papers, and numerous books. These ventures have allowed him the richer, smarter future; now he’s using those skills to work on the cleaner.

Ron founded Zerofootprint in 2005.  Zerofootprint is an organization dedicated to the mass reduction of global environmental impact.  They provide software and services to individuals, governments, universities, and corporations that measure and manage carbon footprints, thus engaging employees and citizens worldwide in the struggle to combat climate change.  Their approach is three point; engage people where they live and work, offer solutions in the form of software to measure the results, and provide carbon offsets.

Yesterday Mayor Miller, activist and author Margaret Atwood, amongst others, helped to announce Zerofootprint’s latest initiative, Zerofootprint Building Re-skinning Competition.  Ron is not known for doing anything half way, and the $1 Million dollar Z-Prize speaks to that. 

This competition will have all eyes on Ontario and our leadership in the global battle to bring the carbon footprint into check; we will become the destination for re-skinning. The focus of this competition is to develop a smart, reproducible, beautiful, cost effective, energy efficient solution for the re-skinning of existing buildings. 

We know how to build new buildings with a low carbon footprint, but little attention has been paid to the thousands of existing structures worldwide that are extremely inefficient.  The statistics are surprising; these buildings are responsible for 40% of North America’s greenhouse gases; in Toronto it’s 63%, New York 79%.  To put this into perspective, SUV’s count for just 3% of emissions in North America.

Mayor Miller recognizes the gravity of these numbers and has committed to re-skin 1000 existing buildings in the GTA, 750 city-owned.  These 1000 buildings will represent a 10 Million dollar reduction in Asthma costs by 2030. 

A new skin provides another layer between these inefficient buildings and the outside.  It also allows for a less expensive retrofit.  We can retrofit as needed and simply cover the workings with a new, prettier layer.  The question of iconic structures came up.  The Empire State building for example is undergoing a re-skin, from the inside.  They are simply insulating every area possible, adding new double -layer glass with a thermal film between those layers and putting a new efficient cooling system in the basement.  They will see a 38% reduction in energy use which translates into a savings of 44 million dollars annually, at a re-skinning cost of just 20 million dollars.  This re-skin will also mean 100,000 tonnes of carbon out of the environment annually. building1Ron’s vision is to re-train and re-purpose Ontario as the center for re-skinning.  The benefits of this initiative not only do as it’s focused and reduce the carbon outputs dramatically, but will create jobs in the building, manufacturing and architecture industries. As Mayor Miller noted, “When we get creative about environmental issues, we create jobs, we do the right thing for the environment and we have some fun too.”

The Zerofootprint competition will see entries from around the world.  They are judged on aesthetics, energy efficiency, smart technology, return on investment and potential as a solution for a large number of buildings.

The winning five entries will be monitored for 3 years.  This data will determine the overall million dollar Z-Prize winner, but more importantly will be scalable to a large number of buildings and deployed globally.  It will also create new school curriculum to start teaching these skills as an integral part of our designs and lives.  A travelling exhibition of the competition will engage the global community and begin to shine the spot light on Ontario and Canada as global leaders in environmental interventions and solutions.

As we all know the seemingly small gestures, add up to a massive impact.  Deborah Kaplan, the executive director of Zerofootprint, offered me some simple suggestions that we can start now, in our own homes.  By adding window coverings, we keep our homes cooler in summer and warmer in winter.  Do an assessment of your home and insulate every area possible.  This ensures energy leakage is kept to an absolute minimum, which saves you money on your energy bill, and reduces your carbon footprint.

Zerofootprint offers a one minute carbon calculator on their site that gives you a quick and dirty tally of how you stack up.  There are also more extensive carbon managers for several major Canadian cities which allow you to enter all you data, be it car, home, or food and in turn assigns you a carbon output number.  The software allows you to track your progress and compare yourself with other cities and countries globally. 

One Minute Calculator:
Personal Carbon Manager:

In his presidential campaign, Barak Obama set out a goal of making all US buildings carbon neutral or zero emissions by 2030.  Creative thinking has shown us many great changes this year, and allowed some belief in the possibilities.  The big picture is set out for us, all we need do is commit ourselves to the leadership, and allow that smarter, richer, and cleaner future to unfold.

Hey, Fluf my pillow and Felt my basket



There is a fantastic little Canadian company called FLUF.  They started a few years back offering pillows, and pillows alone.  Some remember them for their store front on Queen West, across from Trinity Bellwoods.  They had pillows for all styles; big ones little ones, shabby and chic.  They were an instant success, and began focusing on wholesaling to meet the demands.    

Their collection has streamlined in terms of style and expanded on product offerings and is now the perfect little mix of solids and prints, with coordinating fabrics available by the yard and a few fantastic furniture type pieces to round it all out.  Behind the scenes are two gals with unwavering attention to detail and standards; One with a law background and the other an Interior Designer.  They have what it takes to get it done.  This was another example of me pulling from my past for YDF.  I worked with Terra, the Interior Design half of the duo, at the design firm many years ago.  We were both young and focused, and had a mutual respect for the others design and business sense.  I’ve been following and enjoying her FLUF creations for years and knew I had to have her as part of my launch suppliers on YDF.  Both gals are mothers and take great care to ensure their products are as earth and user friendly as possible.  Not that being a mother makes for an environmentalist, but in this case it sure doesn’t hurt.

Here is a bit of their environmental story: 

·  All of their fabrics are printed, and all of our products are sewn or manufactured, in Toronto, Canada

·  Products are all hand-made

·  All FLUF fabrics are printed on an unbleached blend of organic hemp and cotton

·  They use only water-based, heavy-metal free, biodegradable dyes

·  They source fabrics that are organic or chemical-free, naturally biodegradable or manufactured with a “reduced environmental impact”, wherever possible

·  Their cushions are sold with an optional biodegradable, soy-based fill (in place of the natural feather insert)

 ·  They  use recycled and/or recyclable packaging

·  They use foam that is locally manufactured and free of off-gassing and chemical flame retardants (PBDE’s); we also offer biodegradable soy-based foam for any foam product

I will be carrying their cushions in a standard 20 x 20 size along with their furniture pieces.  Any custom sizes or specs are available should you require more specifics for your room.




The Great Refrigerator Roundup

There’s a program offered by Every Kilowatt Count along with Toronto Hydro electric system.  It’s no secret how much energy old appliances suck.  costing both you an the environment.  Take advantage of this program and ditch your old fridge for free – then come see me at to get a new one!

Ditch your old fridge for FREE. Save up to $150 per year in electricity costs and help the environment. 



Book an appointment at or by calling 1-877-797-9473 and leave the heavy lifting to them.

How we live (green)

30 Number of successful applications in 2007-08 for Toronto’s Green Roof Incentive Pilot Program

102 Number f existing or planned green roofs in Toronto

120 Number of nominations for the 2008 Green Toronto Awards

33 Number of finalists for 2008 Green Toronto Awards

30 Number of judges for the 2008 Green Toronto Awards

11Number of award categories for the 2008 Green Toronto Awards

$5000 Amount that a 2008 Green Toronto Awards winner receives to donate to an environmental organization

30Percentage of Canadians who say their municipal government does a good job in promoting energy conservation among citizens, according to an Ipsos Reid-Municipal World survey

53Percentage of Canadians who are buying more “green” products than the year before, according to an Ipsos Reid poll


compiled by Tony Yeung, star Library Sources: Ipsos Reid; Municipal World;City of Toronto Website