Let’s Start Thinking Green



I recently had the pleasure of attending the Globe 2016 Expo at the Vancouver Convention Center where several companies had booths set up to share their efforts in developing sustainable technology. I would like to share a few of the companies and technologies that I enjoyed the most!


  1. Enerkem


As part of my courses in university, I toured a few industrial plants around Alberta – my favourite being Enerkem, located in Edmonton. I was excited to see that they had a booth at the Globe conference. Enerkem is a company that takes a portion of the non-recyclable municipal wastes to convert it into bio-chemicals that can be used in products or for energy. To me it sounds like magic!


                                   The Enerkem facility in Edmonton


Waste contains large amounts of organics which, at a landfill, will naturally break down to produce CO2 and methane. When there is too much waste to be contained, an incinerator will be used to burn it, which will produce a lot of CO2. Enerkem’s technology works by gasifying the organic wastes to make what is called syngas, and this syngas can then be run through a reactor packed with catalysts to reform it into biofuels and chemicals.


                A landfill, definitely not as nice looking as the recycle plant!


  1. BioCube Corp


I was interested in the BioCube because it takes the already established technology of making biodiesel and making it more accessible and economically feasible.

Biodiesel is made from a transesterification process where a triglyceride (Perhaps from a vegetable oil) is reacted with an alcohol. A current major problem with biodiesel is that the process to produce it in a big plant is quite energy intensive and takes a lot of infrastructure and transporting of materials, which is exactly what the BioCube was invented to prevent!


                                     Just some plain ol’ biodiesel

The BioCube is a modified 20 foot shipping container that can be used to produce biodiesel. The idea behind the BioCube is that you can ship it to where biodiesel can be used and a feedstock is present. The first BioCube sold went to DR Congo, which allowed them to no longer rely on shipping in diesel oil for their energy needs which cuts down on costs as well as greenhouse gas emissions!


                     Pongamia seeds, one of the many usable feedstocks

  1. Designergy


I am a fan of Designergy for the same reason as the BioCube – they take a technology and make it more accessible. Designergy produces a roofing material that integrates a photovoltaic with the necessary insulation and waterproofing needed to be a construction material. Based in Switzerland, Designergy has been participating in the construction scene for roughly 5 years.

My favourite thing about solar energy is that if someone tells you there has been a solar spill, they really just want to say that it’s a gorgeous day. Jokes aside though, solar energy is a fantastic technology to get behind. It does have difficulties, however – such as efficiency, space, and the materials it takes to make them. Companies such as Designergy really pave the way for investors to get behind solar energy, which will hopefully assist us in tackling some of the issues with solar energy and allow us to see a lot more of it in our future!


                                    The lone ranger, powering our future.







By Andrew “Rabbit” May

NVOSAS Vice President

How to Spot the Top Three Trees in BC

Ever walk through a forest in British Columbia and don’t know the trees? After reading this guide, ancient forest giants will be your best friends. Here’s a guide of the most common big BC trees that will help!

Douglas Fir

Douglas Firs can grow up to 70 meters tall and are found at low elevations. They have flat yellowish green needles that are 2 to 3 cm long.

Douglas Fir Tree Trunk

How to spot a Douglas Fir:

  1. There’s a story to help identify the Douglas Fir:

There was a mouse trying to get away from a small fire. So, the Douglas Fir said to the mouse: “hop in my cones and I will protect you.” If you look at the Douglas Fir cones you will see the back end of the mouse sticking out. It has two back feet and its tail.m2


  1. You can also identify the Douglas Fir by its thick, grooved bark.





Fun fir facts:

  • The Douglas Fir is technically not a true fir. Its cones point downwards while true firs’ cones point up.
  • Douglas Firs are somewhat fire resistant. Thanks to its thick bark, it can survive a small fire. Wild fires are a different story though

Western Hemlock   

Western Hemlocks can grow up to 60 meters tall and are found at low to middle elevations. They have short needles that are unequal in length from 5 to 20 millimeters long. They have small cones that are about 2 cm long.


Identifying a Western Hemlock:

There is also a story to help identify Western Hemlocks:

Long ago, a raven was handing out cones to all the trees. But the Western Hemlock didn’t want to wait so it budged to the front of the line. The raven didn’t like this, however, so it sent the Hemlock to the back of the line. So now the Western Hemlock bows its head in shame.


Interesting Facts:

  • The Western Hemlock is the most common forest tree in Alaska as well as the North Coast of British Columbia.
  • The Western Hemlock is used as medicine by most groups along the Northwest Coast.



Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedars can grow up to 60 meters tall and can be found at low to medium elevations. Their cones that are about 1 cm long and egg shaped. The Western Red Cedar has scale like leaves.


Identifying a Western Red Cedar:

You can identify the Western Red Cedar by its scale-like leaves. It can also be identified by its bark that is a reddish-brown colour and looks like it can be peeled off in strips.

m5           red-cedar-bark

Sweet Cedar Facts:

  • It’s said that if you stand with your back against a Western Red Cedar it will give you strength.
  • It is also widely used by the pacific northwest coastal First Nations people for canoes, baskets, masks, coffins, totem poles and much more!


By Meghan “Spike” Lang


Member at Large

Little Known Goat Fact

In the last week of 2012 – December 18 to 22 – I was running farm field study. Farm is always filled with cute baby chicks, Ponty the turkey, sometimes aggressive chickens, Capital, Wilma, Miss Piggy, and, last but not least, the goats.

Farm is generally similar each time with different teachers – being upstairs and learning about different aspects on the farm, and then visiting with the animals for as long as possible – however, I’ll always remember this one field study. It was going pretty normal, and we were finally visiting with the goats. I was hanging out with some kids who were petting Thor, our only male goat at the time, when one of the kids put his hat on Thor’s horns. Thor was chill enough to let us take this picture. It probably happens to be the best picture we have of him.


Who knew goats could have so much swag?


By Kristina “Cartwheel” Lang


Member at Large