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Remembering Don Bell

Don Bell and his daughter Angela, sunburnt & covered in dirt in a mud hut near Morrobo, South

I recently learned that a friend, mentor and champion passed away in a car accident on January 23rd, 2017.  I first met Don through our work with Tim Hortons’ Fruition Fruit and Fills plant in Oakville.  The previous plant manager had hired us to address an environmental compliance concern.  Halton Region was concerned that the thousand kilograms per day of organic material in the wastewater discharged from the plant could not be accommodated by the town’s effluent treatment facilities.

The problem could be solved with a conventional approach (a million dollar onsite biological treatment plant) or a preventative approach that would reduce ingredient losses in the first place while increasing net annual profits for the facility.  However, the plant manager rejected both options and insisted that the facility could not possibly be losing a thousand killograms a day of organic material.

A few months later, I received a call from Don, who let me know that he was the new plant manager for Fruition.  When I briefed him on the work to date, he immediately said great, where do we start.  I was very impressed by Don’s motivational and leadership capacity.  Together with his team, we implemented measures that cut ingredient losses to the sewer by 80%, even though production increased by 2/3 during this same period.  Collectively, the ingredient & water savings as well as the energy conservation measures identified by Don’s brother Peter, saved Fruition $490,000/yr with a payback period of 0.4 years (4.5 months).

From the savings, Don provided a bonus to every one of his employees of $4,000, which left $8,000/employee of additional profit for the corporation.  He also used 1% of the savings to sponsor the construction of 40 biosand filters in South Sudan through the Safe Water Project.

Don then asked me out for a beer.  He said that his daughter Angela has two degrees and is still wondering what to do.  Can we come with you to visit the biofilters in South Sudan? And so, after travelling as far as a 4 wheel drive van could go, then 25 miles on the back of motorcycles and waiting for a crew to remove landmines from the side of the road, the picture above was taken in a mud hut near a coffee plantation in Morrobo, South Sudan.  Today, Angela is President & CEO of Speedo Foods & Flavours.

The Fruition project subsequently won a national sustainability award.  Don subsequently moved on to Tradition Fine Foods, where he manged teams that improved and enhanced their production process.  Angela & her sister Melissa went on to start up an ingredient business with the guidance of Don.  And Tim Hortons hired Enviro-Stewards to revist the biofilters a few years later.  The revisits found that 39 of the 40 biofilters remained in active use.

Don’s sponsorship of biofilters and visit occurred during the foundational period of the Safe Water Project.  At the present time, all 4 of the biofilter construction projects in South Sudan have been put on hold due to civil war in each of their areas.  However, the South Sudanese project managers have retained their capacity and are presently starting safe water projects in Northern Uganda that provide local employment and affordable safe water for South Sudanese refugees as well the local Ugandan population.  In honour of Don’s passion and generosity, 10 discounted biofilters will be commissioned from these new projects in memory of Don.  These discounts allow families with limited financial resources to purchase biofilters to provide safe water for their families for about 25 years.

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Enviro-Stewards’ Project with Dextran Featured in Manufacturing Automation

Partners in Project Green (PPG) has been working with businesses in the Greater Toronto Area to showcase best practices in water efficiency. PPG partnered with Enviro-Stewards, who are part of PPG’s vendor network, to conduct a water efficiency assessment at Dextran Products Ltd., who manufacture bulk dextran products for international export.

Enviro-Stewards’ work identified potential water savings of $109,760/year (45,450 m3/year) and an additional $10,600/year in natural gas and cooling tower treatment chemical savings. Additionally, there is the potential to sell $8,800 of sugar (fructose) if it can practically be filtered from Dextran’s process water.  And the measures at Dextran have an average payback period of 0.3 years!  The work was completed using Enviro-Stewards innovative shared savings approach (which was also used on Andrew Peller’s Award Winning project).

This project was featured in Manufacturing Automation. Please click the image below to read the full feature.

Enviro-Stewards’ Safe Water Project Featured in UW’s “Waterloo Stories”

Our Safe Water Project was featured on the University of Waterloo’s website today. Please click here or on the image below to read the full article!

PPG and Enviro-Stewards’ Project with Dextran Featured in ESE Magazine

Partners in Project Green (PPG) has been working with businesses in the Greater Toronto Area to showcase best practices in water efficiency. PPG partnered with Enviro-Stewards, who are part of PPG’s vendor network, to conduct a water efficiency assessment at Dextran Products Ltd., who manufacture bulk dextran products for international export.

Enviro-Stewards’ work identified potential water savings of $109,760/year (45,450 m3/year) and an additional $10,600/year in natural gas and cooling tower treatment chemical savings. Additionally, there is the potential to sell $8,800 of sugar (fructose) if it can practically be filtered from Dextran’s process water.  And the measures at Dextran have an average payback period of 0.3 years!  The work was completed using Enviro-Stewards innovative shared savings approach (which was also used on Andrew Peller’s Award Winning project).

This project was featured in both the print and online edition of Environmental Science & Engineering (ESE) Magazine’s February 2017 issue. Please click the image below to read the full feature.

A Better Way to Bigger Profits: Enviro-Stewards Best for the World Award Featured in AFPA in Action Magazine

In September 2016, Enviro-Stewards was selected by B lab as one of the best businesses for the world.  The enclosed article (on page 22) by the Alberta Food Processors Association (AFPA) outlines why.

Enviro-Stewards’ integrated assessments average more than $250,000 of savings per facility, a 90 per cent implementation rate, and a one year payback period.

Enviro-Stewards’ projects have helped facilities identify practical opportunities to save:

  • $42 million of additional profit
  • 29 million cubic meters of natural gas (which is enough to heat 10,000 homes for a year)
  • 37 million kilowatt hours of electricity (equivalent to the output of 145 acres of solar panels)
  • 5 million cubic meters of water (enough to fill tanker trucks half way across North America)
  • 45,000 tonnes of solid waste generation (enough to fill a football field 50 feet high), and
  • 53,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

The development work that Enviro-Stewards initiated in South Sudan is the Safe Water Project (www.thesafewaterproject.org). So far, it has purified 39 million litres of water, avoided the deforestation of 3,000 trees that would have otherwise been needed to boil water to make it safe to drink, avoided 6,000 tonnes of GHG emissions in developing countries, as well as avoided about 1,450 cases of typhoid.

According to B lab, best for the world businesses are “in our opinion, the best businesses in the world. More certainly, they have subjected themselves to a strict assessment that indicates that they are the best for the world.”

The B Impact Assessment gives companies a score based on how they perform on metrics for impact on their communities, the environment, workers, and customers.  The 1,800-plus businesses around the world that have undergone the B Impact Assessment and certified as B Corporations are all leaders demonstrating the many ways businesses can be a force for good in the world. The Best for the World list highlights businesses that B Lab has determined to have scored in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the assessment.

Enviro-Stewards’ Safe Water Development Work Featured in Kitchener Record

The Safe Water Project is designed to empower communities to sustainably provide safe water.  This work, initiated by Enviro-Stewards, is featured in the Kitchener Record newspaper.

http://www.therecord.com/news-story/6968231-engineer-s-mission-clean-african-water/

The article accurately portrays the tension between traditional charity based models that tend to foster dependence and compared to development based approaches that foster capacity building.  For example, Matthew who is mentioned in the article lived most of his life in a refugee camp but is now equipping other entrepreneurs to develop and operate their own Safe Water Projects.

One correction to the text of the article is that Bruce Taylor did not invent the biosand filter.  Biofilter technology has been around for centuries and David Manz of the Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) developed the household sized version employed by biosand filter projects around the world.  Enviro-Stewards’ innovation was to develop a business based delivery model (rather than charity) that involves technical training, business training and training of Community Health Agents to help people understand the cost savings available to them through drinking safe water.  Additional information is available at www.thesafewaterproject.org

Capacity Building Aid Worker Dies After Delivering Hurricane Relief Supplies in Haiti

Cole Brown and Chuck & Candy Ritzen were lost when their small plane crashed into the ocean.  Among his accomplishments, Cole had helped to construct a school in Calvaire in Northern Haiti.  Enviro-Stewards became involved when our founder’s sister, Lynn, helped to launch the school project through Frantzo’s Dream.  Enviro-Stewards’ Safe Water Project arranged for several biosand filters to be installed at the school in order to provide safe drinking water to the students to help avoid water related illnesses.

We are grateful for Cole’s diligent service on behalf of others.  We also grieve for those lost in Hurricane Matthew and those struggling to rebuild.  Coles example of development based relief, such as his local employment building leather business are an enduring legacy of empowerment and capacity building.

See the Record Newspaper Article:

http://www.therecord.com/news-story/6932830-aid-worker-remembered-for-tireless-devotion-to-helping-the-poor/

Enviro-Stewards’ Shared Savings-Based Conservation Work for Dextran Featured in TRCA Case Study

At its production facility in Toronto, Ontario, Dextran produces an antithrombotic (antiplatelet) product for the pharmaceutical industry.  Dextran retained Enviro-Stewards to complete a water conservation assessment as the inaugural project under the Toronto Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA’s) Innovative Water Technologies program.

The assessment identified practical opportunities to conserve more than $50,000/yr of water with a payback period of under 1.5 years.  TRCA’s case study is available through the following link (or by clicking the image above):

https://www.partnersinprojectgreen.com/case-study/dextran-products-water-stewardship/

Enviro-Stewards Sustainably Doubles Office Space

On January 30th, 2016, Enviro-Stewards completed retrofitting an additional 2,500 ft2 of space in the 100-year-old Roxton Furniture factory building.  Sustainability measures incorporated into the design were featured in Retrofit magazine.  They include:

  • Replacing 100 feet of inefficient (single pane) windows with low-e double pane windows and then reusing the original windows as internal windows to transmit light into offices and the new conference room;
  • Tying a living wall (and CO2 sensor) into the ventilation system’s return air duct to humidify the air and reduce the quantity of outside air needing to be heated or cooled to control CO2 levels;
  • Harvesting and purifying rainwater from our roof, which presently meets 100% of the water required to operate the living wall; and
  • Dimmable LED lighting, occupancy sensors and provision of extra switches to accommodate daylight harvesting.

The renovated office space also includes a 500 ft2 conference room/creative space that makes use of sliding whiteboards to preserve the original brick wall (Elmira Furniture sign in photo below).

If your social venture or NGO is interested in renting the creative space for a half day, it is potentially available for the sponsorship of a biofilter through Enviro-Stewards’ Safe Water Projects (www.thesafewaterproject.org).  The locally owned & operated projects provide local employment and safe water (each $100 biofilter provides about 10 people with safe water for 25 years).

Enviro-Stewards’ Shared Savings based project for Global Vintners Inc. wins national sustainability award

Global Vintners retained Enviro-Stewards to identify measures to increase margin and reduce footprints in return for a portion of net savings if and when they occur. This project was selected as one of the top sustainability projects in Canada by Clean50 based on the project’s inspiring results and innovative approach.

Inspiring Results

Environmental

The assessment identified annual opportunities to save:

  • 15,000 m3 of water (49%), which is enough water to fill 6 Olympic size swimming pools
  • 150,000 kWh of electricity (20%), which is enough electricity to power 14 homes
  • 3,000 m3 of natural gas (2%), which is enough natural gas to heat a home
  • 265,000 L of grape juice, which is enough to fill 590 barrels (or 350,000 bottles) of wine

Economic

Measures implemented to date are saving $300,000/yr with a Return on Investment of 1,000% (payback of 1.2 months).  Try to think of another investment that could yield this return year after year.

Social

The measures avoid the need to use the equivalent of 38 soccer fields of vineyard (27 hectares) to make the same quantity of finished product.  This substantially reduces transportation and agricultural footprints associated with GVI’s supply chain.  The profit margin restored to Global Vintners also provides substantial job protection within a mature industry with strong price competition.

Innovative Approach

Global Vintners (GVI) is a subsidiary of Andrew Peller, which is the largest Canadian owned winery in Canada.  They retained Enviro-Stewards, an engineering firm and certified B corporation, to identify practical measures to increase margin, protect employment, and reduce environmental footprints in return for a portion of net savings if and when they occur.

The assessment was completed with a 100% guarantee that practical savings identified would be equal or greater than the upfront retainer provided by GVI.  The scope included 3 years of post- implementation monitoring to ensure that sustainability gains are tracked and retained.  And GVI’s project manager was given final say as to the magnitude of the savings realized and hence the quantity of net savings to be shared.