Aerial view of city

Sustainability, Social Value and Wellbeing in Buildings

Kelly Watson is a Research Associate at the University of Manchester. She recently submitted her PhD thesis that investigated how to measure and disseminate the social value of buildings, using methodologies from the social impact sector. Her current post-doc research has developed a wellbeing valuation approach for the built environment, to promote understanding of the impact of design on the people that use it.

Man walking down a city street in front of some art.

We’re attending the Conference of the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation. See you there?

The Conference of the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation is happening in Vancouver from November 2nd-5th.  SSG is a proud worker cooperative. We are pleased to attend the conference and help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the CWCF & CoopZone. This conference will be a great opportunity for participants to meet, share ideas, and build networks in the worker cooperative sector.

The Co-operators CEO, Kathy Bardswick, will be the keynote speaker and the conference will cover several practical training topics such as:

  • Managing the democratic process in a worker co-operative;
  • Financing worker co-ops; and,
  • Strengthening your Co-op’s value proposition.

Find more details on it here, and be sure to touch base with us if you plan to attend!

We’re growing! Welcome to 4 New SSG Associates.

New Associates Petronella Tyson, Dermot McGuigan, Dr. Gabor Sass, and Melanie Jellett join the SSG Team. 

Petronella Tyson

Petronella specialises in optimizing organisational capacity for burgeoning enterprises in social and environmental change. She is a trusted intermediary whose work has also been to broker collaborations across cultures and disciplines with potentially conflicting organisations to solve complex problems and challenges in dealing with change, presently peace in post Brexit Britain. She enjoys designing processes around operational systems and communications whilst also shouting from the rooftops about winning ideas, connecting people and organisations to those ideas.

Dermot McGuigan 

Dermot has spent a lifetime advocating for and writing about sustainable & renewable energy. He was introduced to district energy decades ago and since then has been an advocate for several projects, most proposed as non-profits or hybrid projects. Dermot has also developed and consulted on wind farms, hydropower and cogeneration projects.

Dr. Gabor Sass 

Dr. Gabor Sass is an ecosystem scientist and sustainability expert with over 15 years of research and consulting experience studying and reporting on the hydrology, ecology and related sustainability problems of boreal, agricultural, and urban landscapes across Canada. Dr. Sass applies a combination of airborne and space based monitoring techniques to characterize ecosystem patterns using principles of ecosystem science to infer the dominant processes and assess the ecosystem services behind these patterns. Dr. Sass’ work can be found published in a variety of book chapters, articles, and reports.

Melanie Jellett

Melanie is a skilled researcher, communicator, and project manager with over 10 years of experience working in the field of environment and sustainability planning, in both an academic and non-governmental organization setting. Mel has taken the lead on conceptualizing and designing projects, while working with various organizations, researchers, and practitioners. Her post-secondary education includes a Masters of Science where her research involved looking at local agricultural adaptation to climate change, with a specific emphasis on sea-level rise and local knowledge in SouthEast New Brunswick. She conducted community-level vulnerability research using qualitative and quantitative methodology, while working with some of Canada’s leading scientists.

The Seawall in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

We’ve created a new model to help change the way cities plan for sustainability. Meet Places+Spaces.

SSG partnered with Royal Roads University and whatIf? Technologies on a three year project to create Places+Spaces, a new model to assist local government decision-makers in accurately assessing multiple policy options for sustainable community development. The “engine” of this tool is an integrated systems simulation model of the community incorporating community-specific data and reflecting community-specific policies and scenarios. (The “engine” works by tracing complex relationships between policy options – investment choices and impacts – and impacts – built environment, resource consumption, and financial viability).

This ambitious project was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund. Places+Spaces is the first model of its kind in Canada and was tested in three cities: Tofino, Moncton, and Colwood.

“Communities are faced with a gamut of wicked problems,” says Professor Ann Dale of Royal Roads University who led the project. “We needed a wicked solution to support more sustainable community decision-making and that’s where systems dynamic modelling like Places+Spaces comes in. This approach allows us to quantify relationships that are too complex to understand using mere intuition.”

One of the largest issues facing local government decision-makers when it comes to implementing strategies for sustainable development is the potential complexity of the strategies proposed, which makes evaluation and comparison of pathways difficult. Cities are no longer seen as just ‘pipes and roads’ – citizens are calling for their backyards to be developed with sustainability in mind – and planning is moving toward discussion of ‘ideas and systems’.

The beta version of Places+Spaces has been released as an open source tool and is available as a free resource for use by all regional and municipal staff and elected leaders.

“Right now the tool is in the realm of dedicated users and we hope that over time by releasing it as open source, we anticipate developing version 2.0 which will be more user friendly,” says Dale. Development of the next version will be led by a new private/public sector partnership between SSG and whatif? Technologies.

Read more about the development of Places+Spaces in the RRU News Release here.

Check out Places+Spaces for yourself here.

We’ve launched a new model for district energy – Plan4DE (Plan for District Energy)

SSG and our partners are pleased to announce the launch of Plan4DE (Plan for district energy). Plan4DE is a cutting-edge tool that addresses one of urban planning’s most challenging and up and coming areas – energy planning. Designed for use by city planners, architects, and engineers, Plan4DE assesses the viability of district energy vs. individual building energy use, including full cost accounting comparisons.

Example uses include:

  • Evaluating development plans, particularly at the neighbourhood scale
  • Exploring alternative development scenarios (e.g. assessing different building density scenarios)
  • Scanning for DE potential in existing neighbourhoods by assessing existing building density, arrangement, and energy loads

Three versions of the model are available(basic, intermediate and advanced) to accommodate a range of knowledge and technical user experience. The advanced version is fully unlocked, to allow customisation. Guidebooks and webinars have also been created to provide guidance on the use of Plan4DE.

Want to take a closer look? Check out the recording of our introductory webinar here.

Never miss a Plan4DE update by signing up for our mailing list here.

Low carbon city.

SSG partners with CDP to support the transition to low carbon cities

SSG has partnered with CDP to support European cities in reporting on GHG emissions and climate risk. Both SSG and CDP recognise the critical role of cities in advancing a low carbon future.  

CDP has worked with over 300 cities globally to manage over 1.67 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. CDP’s cities program demonstrates that cities are better managing their risk and increasing resiliency through more than 4,800 activities to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“CDP has had a pivotal role in advancing climate action, firstly amongst corporations and now with cities. CDP’s work compliments SSG’s efforts to identify and implement low carbon pathways, using the lens of city planning”, says SSG Director Yuill Herbert.

SSG has fifteen years of experience working with cities, including undertaking GHG inventories using the GHG Protocol for Cities, performing emissions projections, and assessing emissions reductions strategies that consider financing, economic development, and quality of life. In Paris at COP21, SSG launched a new energy, emissions and finance model, CityInSight, designed to help cities evaluate and implement decarbonisation paths.

“SSG develops and implements comprehensive sustainability solutions for cities focused on climate action,” says Conor Riffle, Cities Director at CDP. “We are excited to welcome SSG on board as the first CDP cities consultancy partner for Europe and are confident they will continue to provide high quality services to cities responding to CDP.”

CDP offers a voluntary climate change reporting platform for city governments. The Cities program provides the world’s first global platform for municipal governments to disclose greenhouse gas emissions, climate change risks, and mitigation and adaptation strategies.  CDP collects and delivers materially relevant data for cities, the private sector, and other stakeholders.

Sustainability Reporting for Co-operatives: A Guidebook

International Co-operative Alliance & SSG Present: Sustainability Reporting for Co-operatives: A Guidebook

Sustainability Reporting for Co-operatives: A Guidebook, prepared by SSG for the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), explores the different types of reporting frameworks used by co-ops globally, the process of developing a chosen framework and how a co-op can then communicate results to members and interested stakeholders.

The Guidebook also provides guidance on how co-operatives can track their contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

You can read more about the report on ICA’s website, or you can download the report directly.

Paddling along Toronto's Waterfront

SSG engaged to set direction on Toronto’s low carbon future.

The City of Toronto has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. Reaching this goal will require major changes in the way that residents live, travel, work and consume goods and services.

TransformTO is a project that will engage Toronto residents and businesses in imagining the transformative changes needed to reach the goal, while at the same time improving public health, enhancing the local economy, and reducing social inequalities.

TransformTO cited SSG’s energy, emissions and climate change modelling expertise in engaging SSG to model scenarios that achieve the 80% target. SSG has partnered with whatIf Technologies and ARUP on this project. The team will assess a host of different emissions reduction strategies and actions that may be used to pursue the target, including new renewable energy production possibilities, energy efficiency programs, public transit options, bicycling infrastructure, neighbourhood development patterns, and solid and liquid waste diversion and treatment options.

SSG and partner whatIf Technologies will apply their cutting edge energy, emissions and finances model, CityInSight, to the task. The modelling process and outputs will contribute to establishing a decision-making framework for the City to use in identifying the best path to a low carbon future. The project will result in suggestions for key starting points and priority actions, summarized in two reports:

  • A short-term strategy (2017-2020) outlining the actions that will allow Toronto to meet its 30% emissions reduction by 2020 target through policy and programming.
  • A long-term (2020-2050) approach that will identify how to meet the 80% emissions reduction by 2050 target while generating a healthier, more prosperous, and equitable city.

SSG is excited to be working with Canada’s largest city on a project that will lead to amazing positive change, and one that will hopefully be a herald to other city sustainability planning projects.

SSG is helping towns and cities across Canada develop and implement strategies to address climate change. SSG has been actively involved in UN climate change negotiations with a particular focus on the role of cities, including most recently in Paris.  

How do you convince your CFO or the City Council that your triple bottom line proposal will benefit the environment, society and the economy?

Key financial tools in sustainable community development and how to use them

How do you convince your Chief Financial Officer or the City Council that your triple bottom line proposal will benefit the environment, society and the economy?
Mark Pezarro shares several tools and techniques to make a persuasive argument for sustainability in financial terms. This webinar focuses on specific tools and approaches for “making the case” for sustainability projects and introduces real world examples ranging from district energy systems to urban agriculture.
It begins with an overview of key economic and financial concepts for evaluating the financial viability of major capital investments, and then delves into a number of techniques to foster triple bottom line decision making before wrapping up with some examples of how this works in practice.

Watch Part I here and register for Part II here!