Friday, 26 April 2013

“Target Zeroing In” on Green House Gas and Operating Costs

With winter almost over, we are “Target Zeroing in” on a couple of projects that are nearing completion.

Two Down, One To Go: Make-Up Air Units Removed From Forks Market Roof

Crane removing old make-up air unit
Photo Credit:  Keith Angel

Access to your morning coffee at The Forks was blocked Monday morning as some of the final pieces in the geothermal puzzle were going into place. Two of the three rooftop units that circulate fresh air in the Forks Market were replaced with energy efficient ones. The new ones will be optimized with our geothermal system. 

In a couple weeks the third one will be replaced, and once all three units are installed and balanced, the geothermal project will be complete.

They look much bigger on the ground than they do on the roof of the Market.
Photo Credit: Keith Angel

With the geothermal retrofit, The Forks has avoided 522 metric tonnes of Green House Gas emissions. As for operating costs, we have saved just over 30% during the heating months of 2011-2012. We had a much colder winter this year compared to last so we expect some encouraging numbers.

Trillions of Microbes are Lining Up For Their Chance to Sample Food Waste Smoothies

With the flick of the “On Switch” the large blades whirled into action chopping and blending food waste collected from the Forks Market and site tenants. After a couple of minutes everything was blended into a delicious mix of food waste and yard trimmings. This mix is loaded into the Biovator™ where it will be devoured by trillions of microbes and turned into a rich compost.
For the past couple of years we’ve been struggling with an efficient way to handle the compostable garbage bags. These bags would clog up machinery and slow the composting process. With our new mixer, manufactured by a Canadian company Vertablend, we are now able to throw everything, bags and all, and blend it together.  Watch the video to see it in action.

When organic material is disposed of in a landfill it generates methane, a greenhouse gas 30x more powerful than CO2.  By composting our food waste we reduce our tipping fees at the landfill and avoid greenhouse gas emissions. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Bayshore Gifts in Glass: Lamp Work Lesson

As a staff member of The Forks I am often in and out of The Market at meetings, and I don’t necessarily have the chance to peruse the shops and services the way a visitor might.  So when it was suggested to me to explore The Market the way a tourist would and then blog about it I jumped at the chance! I had recently noticed a Facebook post from Bayshore Gifts in Glass advertising Lamp Work Classes to make your own glass pieces.  Sold!  I phoned up Kevin MacKay, Bayshore owner, and booked a private lesson in lamp work. 

Kevin is from Northern England and has the charming and gentle accent to prove it.  His store has been open on the second level of The Forks Market for four years, and previous to that he had an outdoor kiosk for eight.   Kevin’s store is full of handcrafted miniatures, pendants and jewelry all made right there on site.  He can design and create custom pieces for any event – cake toppers, gifts, pendants, rings, you name it!

His style and approach to teaching is calm and laid back, while always maintaining a “safety first” motto (appropriate when working with a 1300 degree centigrade flame!).  We started our lesson by learning to turn the torch on and off, a two-step ritual working with propane and oxygen tanks.  Once I was comfortable with that we moved on to melting glass. 

Kevin had me practice on glass wands; separating and rejoining the long “sticks” of glass several times over.  This was for me to “get the feel” of working with glass, which I didn’t really understand until I was actually doing it.  Working with glass does have a feel.  You start to understand the consistency of the heated glass as it softens and then fuses again as it cools.

Then it was on to the main event!  I chose to make a heart shaped pendant.  The ones I saw hanging in the store looked very lovely and feminine.  Kevin demoed the steps involved to make the pendant, and it seemed rather straightforward.  He then watched and guided me through the steps as I did them.  I gotta admit, it seemed a little less straightforward this time around.  But I managed to work my way them and create my very own one-of-a-kind pendant (with only a couple of assisted steps from Kevin).
The end result?  Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Lessons with Kevin are generally two and a half hours long and cost around $95 and, of course, you get to keep whatever you make.

Bayshore Gifts in Glass:  204.415.7229   

Written by: Alison August

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Saying Goodbye to Winter

I am constantly amazed by this place we live. We not only have 4 distinct seasons, we have them to the extreme. I have stood on the equator and have been well north of the Arctic Circle and I have never been hotter or colder than right here at The Forks.

Just look at the difference between this winter and last. The winter of 2011/12 never really came. We had a long lazy fall and never got the freezing weather in December that we need to get the River Trail in. it was the third week of January before anyone could get out on the finally frozen river.

Two of our Warming Huts (the Czech entry and Frank Gehry’s) were dependent on ice and freezing weather, normally something we can easily count on. It never happened. The Czech Polar Egg lasted less than 24 hours as warm sunny weather caused it to collapse. Frank Gehry’s Five Hole barely stood as the large off set ice blocks that it was made of started sliding around due to melting. Sam Gehry who came up from Los Angeles to oversee the construction, had bought thousands of dollars of winter clothing and equipment in eager anticipation of our cold climate. To his great disappointment he never got to wear any of it.

We were only able to get three kilometres of the River Trail open, on the Red River only and it often had surface melt flooding it  by mid-afternoon.
March came on like May and by the 19th of it was 23 degrees.

Fast forward to winter of 2012/13 and it is hard to believe it is the same place. Our first snow storm came on October the 8th and we actually had to plow out The Forks so people could move around. By mid- November we were buried in snow and temperatures plunged and stayed there. We opened the River Trail by December 24th in the port and had 7 kilometres of groomed ice on both rivers by the first weekend of January.

The Warming Huts build week was nothing short of brutal. The whole week never saw temperatures rise above -20. The first day of the competition reached a high of -28. I had to give the New York team lessons on how to breathe when you step outside and  your nostrils stick together. They were impressed.

And today, as of April 2nd, we are still buried under a few feet of snow!  Kinder temperatures are on the way though, Winnipeg.  We just need to hang in a little longer.

What is very interesting is how little the weather contributes to people enjoying the River Trail. Our numbers were very consistent when compared year over year. The Raw:Almond pop up restaurant completely sold out in spite of sub- arctic conditions and we had two weekends this year where attendance topped 40,000.
The extremes are fun and challenging but next year I am hoping for something in the middle.