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Becoming an ecoMontréaler

The tagline “Together toward a sustainable metropolis” effectively sums up Montréal’s approach, which fosters collective action and increased sustainable development efforts, in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Essentially, each and every citizen must do their part to make Montréal a sustainable city.

Doing my part daily

The concrete initiatives of the Montréal Community Sustainable Development Plan 2010–2015 are intended to enable the municipal administration and committed partners to accomplish nine key objectives, which were determined jointly with plan partners.

Nevertheless, we can all help achieve these objectives by making small gestures or changes in our day-to-day lives!

Reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Initiative 2: Reduce automobile dependency
Initiative 4: Improve the environmental performance of its conventional vehicle fleet

The transportation industry is the largest producer of GHG emissions, accounting for 48% of total emissions.

  • Get up on your feet!
  • Ride a bike!
  • Use public transit!
  • If you need a car, opt for an eco-friendly vehicle.
  • Drive in an eco-friendly manner.

Initiative 3: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing and newly constructed buildings
Initiative 11: Minimize the use of heating oil in buildings

The building sector accounts for 20% of GHG emissions, due in large part to the use of natural gas and heating oil.

  • Improve your home’s insulation and energy efficiency.
  • Replace polluting or low-efficiency heating systems.
  • In winter, lower thermostats by one or two degrees overnight.

Initiative 6: Take part in climate change awareness campaigns

The Climate Challenge or Earth Hour for example. You can also do more by promoting these awareness campaigns at work or to friends and family!

Improve air quality

Initiative 7: Reduce the use of wood heating in urban areas

While cozying up next to the fireplace seems calming, romantic and harmless, these fires emit smoke containing more than 100 different toxic substances, including fine particles, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and other irritants. Some of these substances are carcinogenic. Others, such as fine particles, which are smaller in diameter than a strand of hair, can be absorbed deep inside lung tissue and cause health problems. Similarly, winter smog is due to high concentrations of fine particles caused primarily by wood heating in homes.

Do you have a wood burning furnace? There are ways to reduce its effect on air quality in your neighbourhood:

  • Keep wood heating to a minimum.
  • Use other heat sources, especially when it is smoggy outside.
  • Do not burn garbage, plastic or painted or treated wood, because they emit toxic fumes!
  • Replace your conventional wood stove or fireplace with a gas or pellet stove.

Initiative 11: Minimize the use of heating oil in buildings

The use of heating oil generates SO2 emissions in the ambient air. This pollutant leads to the formation of secondary fine particulate matter.

  • Improve your home’s insulation and energy efficiency.
  • Replace polluting or low-efficiency heating systems.
  • In winter, lower thermostats by one or two degrees overnight.

Keep families in the city

Initiative 13: Develop sustainable neighbourhoods
Initiative 15: Contribute to greening efforts and reduce heat islands
Initiative 16: Promote Montréal as a place for families

In densely populated areas like Montréal, numerous factors come into play in shaping an environment in which one can enjoy good quality of life, such as having clean, safe and peaceful public spaces.

  • Deploy greening and heat-island reduction efforts (e.g. planting, creating green roofs, alleyways, walls and parking lots).
  • Work with your employer to encourage work-life balance and keeping the workplace close to home.

Consume less water

Initiative 17: Reduce leaks and illicit water consumption
Initiative 18: Index water consumption by sector of activity
Initiative 19: Improve efficiency of drinking water consumption

Water is a communal resource that must be managed conscientiously. Unfortunately, this precious commodity is sometimes used wastefully or inefficiently. The amount of potable water produced per person in Montréal is high in comparison with other major North American cities. This excessive production can largely be attributed to dilapidated waterworks and the defective, sub-standard or inefficient equipment used by various industrial companies, businesses and institutions… but also in our homes.

  • Detect, repair and perform preventive maintenance on plumbing and leaky hardware.
  • Urge your employer to do the same and improve the efficiency of water use in buildings.
  • Take showers instead of baths!
  • Install a low-flow shower head.

Improve the quality of runoff water

Initiative 20: Promote rainwater catchment, retention and infiltration at the source

Rainwater is a fundamental component of the water cycle. The quality of rainwater is altered as it passes through the city’s storm drainage system, which, in turn, affects the natural habitats into which they flow. The volume of rainwater has an impact on the urban environment, as well as its infrastructures and natural habitats.

  • Set up rainwater collection, retention and infiltration systems (e.g. greening, rainwater rehabilitation, water gardens) at home.
  • Urge your employer to do the same or take part in neighbourhood greening activities.

Recover Montréal’s waste

Initiative 22: Implement at-source waste reduction measures
Initiative 23: Implement recycling and reuse measures
Initiative 24: Hold ecologically responsible events

To produce less waste and minimize the environmental impact of waste burial, we, as a community, will need to take drastic measures in the coming years.

  • Avoid single-use water bottles.
  • If you must absolutely print something, use double-sided printing.
  • Use primarily reusable products and avoid No. 6 plastics and Styrofoam.
  • Transport your construction, renovation and demolition waste to an ecocentre.
  • Start composting!
  • Participate in waste sorting and green waste collection. (Dial 311 to find out the collection schedules for your area.)
  • Learn how to change your consumption habits at ville.montreal.qc.ca/consommezautrement.
  • Hold eco-responsible events (including events and meetings of all sizes).
  • Urge your employer to take part in one of the three levels of RECYC-QUÉBEC’s ICI ON RECYCLE! recognition program.
  • Encourage your employer to become certified in responsible event management (standard BNQ 9700-253/2010).
  • Ask your employer to install water fountains.

Make Montréal a leader in the green economy

Initiative 25: Support the development of the clean technology sector
Initiative 26: Stimulate demand for green technology, products and services

The increase in local demand is contributing to a global movement toward a greener economy and lifestyle. Your choices, whether from a personal or professional standpoint, are important. Moreover, consumers increasingly are asking that companies become good corporate citizens.

  • Urge your employer to adopt a sustainable and responsible procurement policy.
  • In your everyday life, be informed about a company’s social and environmental practices before buying its products.

Increase the number of environmental certifications

Initiative 28: Adopt a management system, regulations or a policy to obtain certifications in sustainable development
Initiative 30: Participate in training activities on certification and environmental programs

The aim of implementing an environmental management system is to incorporate environmental considerations into every part of the process of running an organization. It is a voluntary process that is often initiated by employees. Such processes often lead to organizations being awarded a certification acknowledging their efforts.

  • Attend training activities on certification and environmental programs.
  • Help set up a management system or policies that promote(s) the acquisition of certifications covering sustainable development concepts by your organization.

Improve Montréal’s green infrastructures

Initiative 32: Make use of green infrastructures and ecological services in the city
Initiative 33: Publish information to raise awareness of biodiversity and encourage the public to protect it
Initiative 34: Reinforce the eco-friendly management of the city’s green spaces

With its abundant green spaces, Montréal ranks favourably compared to other major North American cities with respect to its canopy index, or in other words, the layer of trees covering the ground when viewed from above. One way to increase canopy cover is to introduce vegetation to densely built-up areas, namely by creating green infrastructures.

  • Help set up green infrastructures on private land (e.g. planting, creating green alleyways and walls).
  • Educate your neighbours and loved ones about the importance of biodiversity. Practice ecological management of green spaces. For tips on how to do this, check out ville.montreal.qc.ca/biodiversity