Waterloo Region: Canada’s first carbon-neutral region?

“We want you to imagine,” Enterprise Innovation – TD Lab representatives began during a workshop, “what we can create and utilize right here in the Waterloo Region to make us Canada’s first carbon-neutral region.

June 28, 2019

11 years.

That’s how long the world has to reduce carbon emissions by 45%.

If we don’t?

We will face irrevocable climate disaster.

“We want you to imagine,” Enterprise Innovation – TD Lab representatives began during a workshop, “what we can create and utilize right here in the Waterloo Region to make us Canada’s first carbon-neutral region.”

The room was buzzing.

The workshop, Waterloo Region: Canada’s First Carbon-Neutral Region?, jointly held by TD Canada (TD) and the Accelerator Centre (AC) at the True North 2019 conference, was filled with 60 entrepreneurs, tech enthusiast, environmentalists, and policymakers of all capacities.

After listening to Sustainable Waterloo Region Executive Director, Tova Davidson share sobering stats on the potential consequences of climate inaction, the anticipation of possibly being a part of Waterloo Region’s solution to climate change was growing.

“If an amazing idea comes out of this workshop, we will invite anyone here today who is interested in joining a founding team to make the idea a reality access to Phase One of the Accelerator Program for free,” said John Stevens, VP, Strategy and External Relations for the Accelerator Centre.

More buzzing. The excitement was palpable.

Tables got to work, first discussing how climate change impacts their daily lives.

“How does climate change impact my daily life? Oh my gosh—in so many ways! My basement has been flooded four times this year and I’ve had two flights canceled due to extreme weather. I know [climate change] is a real problem and I’m freaked out. We all should be,” one participant told her group.

While brainstorming innovation possibilities, another participant was quick to point out to his table: “This is Canada. We need to think of how our extreme climate impacts our next steps. We get snow. A lot of snow. Bikes and scooters as solutions aren’t feasible here. I’d love for us to come up with a valuable option we can optimize all year round.”

As the group of TD facilitators walked participants through a 90-minute ideation exercise, inspiring ideas from micro energy grids to carbon tracking for individuals were developed, and new collaborative relationships were formed across community and industry partners.

More than a brainstorming exercise, the AC and TD hope to assist in turning ideas into action. Our teams were quick to see the potential for implementing some of the ideas generated in the workshop and we will share their stories on the blog as examples of how communities like Waterloo Region can come together to make a significant impact on climate change.

“This workshop is one of many steps the AC and TD are taking in order to bring our collaborative vision [of seeing Waterloo Region be a leader in the transition to a clean economy] to life. We’re looking forward to giving workshop participants the opportunity to work with peers, cleanteach experts and AC mentors at the Accelerator Centre’s TD Sustainable Future Lab,” says Stevens.

The TD Sustainable Future Lab is where Accelerator Centre clients are able to focus exclusively on cleantech initiatives.

The workshop is one of several collaborations that TD (through The Ready Commitment) and the AC will lead together through their partnership promoting and growing the region’s first clean technology incubator and community hub for driving a culture of sustainability in the Waterloo Region.

Do you have an idea on how to make Waterloo Region Canada’s first carbon-neutral region? We want to hear it. Apply to the TD Sustainable Future Lab and join AC’s cleantech accelerator today!

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