"On a snow-flecked Sunday afternoon in mid-December, Paul Dowsett gathered a
group of neighbours in his backyard for a toast.
Although the event featured mulled wine and a crackling bonfire, this was no
holiday party. Rather, it was an event to celebrate homeowners in the Pocket —
an east Toronto neighbourhood — who have committed to an energy retrofit to
reduce their carbon footprint.
A Pocket resident since 1997, Dowsett is an architect by trade and a local sage
on matters of sustainability. Dressed in a striking green lumber jacket, the
61-year-old extolled his neighbours’ climate consciousness, and after a breezy
explainer on the environmental harms of natural gas, related some breaking
“I am really excited to tell you that as of yesterday, my house … is producing
zero greenhouse gas emissions,” Dowsett said. The crowd whooped.
The event, which drew about 30 people, was not only a testament to the fact
that some Pocket residents want to renovate their homes to help the planet, but
also that the community has their backs.
According to Natural Resources Canada, buildings — including our homes —
account for about 18 per cent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
The federal government has announced a target of making Canada net-zero by 2050
and offers a number of grants to help homeowners lower their emissions. But
pledges alone aren’t enough to empower people to make the necessary changes.
“There’s not been a lot of success in the past with getting home retrofits
happening, beyond [governments] sending out packages of low-flow showerheads
and encouraging people to switch to LED lightbulbs and caulk their windows,”
said Eve Wyatt, a retired transit professional who volunteers as a “project
manager” for the Pocket initiative.
Concepts like air sealing and heat pumps are becoming more mainstream, but
between the cost and the technical jargon, undertaking an energy retrofit can
As Wyatt’s title suggests, the Pocket provides more than just a cheering
section for would-be renovators. The community designates them “Changemakers”
and supports them with local Facebook groups, retrofit webinars hosted by
neighbours and industry professionals and coaching from people like Paul
Via The Fixer
January 18, 2023:
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics