Landscape designer Becca Robinson (MLA ’09) has met with hundreds of homeowners to help them identify ways they can reduce their environmental footprint and make their homes and landscapes more sustainable. Recently, the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) graduate and her colleagues had the opportunity to share those same tips with none other than Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“He’s really good at making you feel heard,” Robinson said about meeting the prime minister. “You can tell he’s really listening to what you have to say.”
Trudeau’s visit to Reep Green Solutions—the first for a world leader, noted Robinson—coincided with the launch of Canada’s new federal program, the Greener Homes Initiative, which provides grants and interest-free loans to help Canadians undertake home retrofits.
Reep is an environmental charity located in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, whose focus is teaching people how to live more sustainably. It is one of the organizations that helps administer the Greener Homes Initiative, according to Robinson, who graduated with a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from SEAS.
SEAS alumna Becca Robinson chats with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about sustainability issues. Photo courtesy of Adam Scotti, Photographer to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Trudeau toured the Reep House for Sustainable Living, a 100-year-old heritage home that has been renovated to be as energy efficient as possible and has achieved a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes Canada Platinum rating, the highest level of LEED certification. The demonstration home and education center features what Robinson describes as “real-life examples” of the different energy-efficient and water management technologies available to homeowners, including heat pumps, insulation options, a greywater tank for toilet flushing and a soakaway pit—the costs and benefits of which were highlighted during Trudeau’s 45-minute house tour.
Afterwards, Trudeau had the chance to explore the outside grounds, where Robinson showed off Reep’s native plant garden, green roof, solar panels and permeable driveway, which are some of the options homeowners can use to reduce stormwater runoff and make their properties more climate resilient.
“What I was excited to tell Trudeau about is that the city of Kitchener …
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