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Climate Action

Our climate is changing and so must our design.
February 27, 2020
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Climate change is among the most pressing and challenging problems of our time. Yet most of us appear disinterested and strangely unmoved by the reality of the dire consequences that we ultimately face.

As changes in our climate inevitably come to visit us, we need to start paying closer attention to exactly what’s happening, beginning right on our doorstep, at the local level. That means taking a harder, closer look at what’s happening in our homes and in our communities. Climate change is real and we need to do something about it now, to start coming up with solutions to these growing challenges.

Advances in design often happen when things are good, when our economy and social environment are nurturing and healthy. Designers as a general rule don’t usually focus on ideas like sustainability and the environment in their creative process and approach. And for those of us who do, we don’t go after solutions in these areas nearly as creatively or forcefully as we should. This really must change. We need a new design paradigm. We need to start rethinking our approach because our current assumptions around economic and social systems simply no longer apply.

We are at a crossroads where important choices need to be made. As designers, we’re obliged to revisit the way we design products, create services and approach built environments, making zero emissions a priority. The alternative is the status quo and its consequences.

Join us for “Design for Climate Action” in collaboration with Pivot Design Group, and Sidewalk Labs on February 27th, 2020, 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Let’s discuss at DesignMeets where we’ll hear from people rethinking the way we think and design for climate change.

Event Format


Stay tuned for a recap coming this week!


Hélène St. Jacques
Founder, Informa Market Research

Hélène is an expert consumer and market researcher with a history that spans many categories within the sustainability and resilience front including the renewal of local and healthy food systems, solid waste diversion and food waste reduction, water conservation, energy conservation and renewable energy.

Her experience includes working on local, national and international fronts with large and small size public and private sector organizations. This wide scope of work is continually being enriched by volunteer activities that include FoodShare Toronto (former) and Toronto Food Policy Council (past chair).

Hélène’s work on solid waste started with the introduction of the Blue Box in Ontario. From that point onwards she has helped municipalities around the province and across the country to marry householder behaviour with diversion services. In addition to classic recyclables, this included household organics, leaf and yard waste, household hazardous waste, E-waste and unwanted textiles/apparel.

Hélène has a unique, wide ranging perspective on strengthening the local food system from ‘field to table’ and stemming the massive loss of edible food. She also has chaired the Food Waste Reduction Working Group of the Municipal Waste Association and spoken to many groups about reducing food waste. Hélène is also a member of the City of Toronto’s Solid Waste Department’s Circular Economy Working Group representing the National Association of Charitable Textile Recyclers. She has a B.A. (University of Waterloo) and an M. Ed. (University of Toronto).

Paul Dowsett
Founder and Principal Architect, Sustainable.

Recognizing that our global carbon emissions must peak in 2020, Paul is focused on adaptive re-use, deep green retrofit projects, with a strong social mandate - Sustainable’s Egale Centre (currently under construction) is just one example. He is interested in working towards carbon sequestration through the construction and operational life cycles of buildings. Paul challenges the entire construction industry to make the choice to bring carbon to zero in this decade.

With more than three decades of sustainable design experience, Paul is uniquely qualified to lead a highly collaborative design team for projects of diverse scales, types, and complexities. Sustainable creates architecture for a healthy planet, by utilizing non-toxic materials and dramatically reducing carbon-emissions. At the core of Paul’s philosophy and practice is the belief that design and construction solutions should be simple, sensitive, and sustainable.

Jon Dogterom
SVP of Venture Services, MaRS

Jon Dogterom is the Senior Vice President of Venture Services at MaRS Discovery District where he leads programming and advisory support to help grow Canada’s leading innovative companies in Health, Cleantech, Fintech and Enterprise.

He is also part of the MaRS Energy Centre, which was established out of the MaRS Advanced Energy Centre - a public-private partnership he co-founded to focus on innovative domestic energy programs and strengthening international relationships to drive exports.

Prior to leading the Venture Services team, he was the Managing Director of the Cleantech practice. Jon has an extensive background in early-stage and high-growth alternative energy companies. Prior to joining MaRS, he led business development for Hydrogenics Corporation, where he focused on strategic partnerships, product development, and sales and marketing. He was also involved in the introduction and launch of the company’s fuel cell and hydrogen generation divisions. Jon also previously worked with The Pembina Institute, leading corporate-consulting services on low-impact renewable energy and energy policy.

In 1997, he co-founded Sustainable Energy Technologies, a leading Canadian provider of power electronics for the solar power industry.

Jon has degrees in civil environmental engineering from Queen’s University and in marketing and product management from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Victoria Haldane
PhD Student at the Institute of Health, Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto

Victoria aims to bring together health services research and design thinking to create more person-centered health systems that are environmentally sustainable.

She is currently a PhD student at the Institute of Health, Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto. Her research is on the use of eHealth to deliver person-centered care for individuals requiring long term medications.

She is a founding member of Emerging Leaders for Environmental Sustainability in Healthcare (ELESH), a group raising awareness amongst healthcare stakeholders to drive systems change on issues related to environmental sustainability in healthcare. She is also an intern at the Centre for Sustainable Health Systems which has a vision for health systems characterized by practices and policies that are environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable, allowing us to address the health and care needs of today without compromising our ability to address those needs tomorrow.

Victoria holds a Masters in Public Health from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and worked for several years in Singapore as a health services researcher. She also has UX research experience working with healthcare, government and industry clients across Asia.

Dr. Shashi Kant
Founding Director, Master of Science in Sustainability Management Program, UTM

Dr. Shashi Kant is a professor of forest resource economics and management and the founding director of the groundbreaking Master of Science in Sustainability Management Program at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He has received many awards, including the Order of Ontario, Queen’s Award, and Premier’s Excellence Award. He has been promoting a unique approach for global sustainability that integrates the concepts of love and sustainability.

He has an international reputation as an expert in the intersection of forest management and human rights. He was one of the first in his field to focus on sustainability and the social aspects of forest management. In Ontario, he played a key role in modernizing the province’s forest tenure and stumpage systems. Mr. Kant has also worked extensively with Canada’s First Nations. He is a follower of Gandhiji. His values include love, respect, equity, fairness, non-violence, and collective responsibilities. He is committed to global sustainability.

Tina Soldovieri
Founder, Roncy Reduces

Tina Soldovieri is an environmental educator and activist. She is the founder of Roncy Reduces, a grassroots initiative in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood that aims to engage local businesses and residents to jointly reduce single-use plastic and packaging waste. It has spread to many other neighbourhoods in Toronto where people have created similar initiatives such as Beaches Reduces, Danforth Reduces and many more.

Tina grew up in Germany, but while raising her three children in Toronto she realized that our environment in which children are growing up today is in dire need of support. She decided to change careers and completed a Master in Environmental Education with internships at the TDSB EcoSchools Program and Green Thumbs Growing Kids. She has volunteered extensively for school garden programs and green initiatives at elementary schools.

Tina works at the High Park Nature Centre to help connect children and adults with nature. For Tina waste reduction and nature connection are very closely related topics: It’s the lack of connectedness with nature that has created a culture in which we neglect to care how our actions impact nature. The creation of huge masses of plastic waste that linger for hundreds of years in our landfills and pollute our waters is a direct result of our nature disconnect. Tina strongly believes that cultural change is possible if we all take responsibility for what we leave behind and how we use nature – essentially how we live with nature in mind. Reducing waste in our daily lives is one of the first and most tangible things we can do to transform our unsustainable mindsets into sustainable ones.

Jennifer Harmer
Energy Consultant, RWDI

Jennifer is an energy consultant at RWDI, specializing in high performance building design. She leverages a Masters in Building Science and five years of technical expertise in energy modelling and low-energy mechanical system design to help projects achieve a wide range of ambitious sustainability objectives, including LEED, Passive House, and net-zero carbon buildings.

Beyond technical work, Jennifer is dedicated to distilling the results of complex analysis into clear, actionable guidance. She has a knack for bridging communication gaps between project stakeholders, translating technical jargon to an approachable language for any audience.