Thursday, 28 June 2012

Toronto Green Street Market + Festival: July 21

Live Green Toronto Festival 2012
Collage: Live Green Toronto Festival
Saturday, July 21, 2012 @ Yonge-Dundas Square

Wo-Built + Peapod Life

Wo-Built invites you to Live Green Toronto Festival!

Being eco friendly and green we would like to inform you and invite you to upcoming Live Green Toronto Festival this July 21 at the Yonge-Dundas Square.

Live Green Toronto Festival

When: Saturday, July 21, 2012

Location: Yonge-Dundas Square
Toronto ON M5G 2C2

Toronto’s largest outdoor green festival brings hundreds of green products and services, live music, buskers, a kids’ zone and more to the streets of Toronto every year!

Shop the Green Street Market: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Dozens of green exhibitors will line Yonge Street (closed to traffic from Dundas to Queen).

The Festival will proceed rain or shine!

Live Green Toronto Festival – where green hits the streets!

The Live Green Toronto Festival takes place at Yonge and Dundas square. It will have over 100 exhibitors, local food, live music and more.

The Farmer's Market offers fresh local fruits and vegetables and the Kids Zone allows kids to explore green activities include mural painting, seed planting and more. The performer's stage is powered by bicycles, where anyone in encouraged to pedal and get a workout while providing power to the main stage.

More info on this year's fest, including performers, are still to be announced.

  • Shop the Green Street Market: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Check out more than 100 vendors and thousands of green products and services right on Yonge - Dundas Square and all along Yonge Street, from Dundas to Queen.
  • Yonge Street is car-free from Dundas to Queen.
  • More than 1,001 products and services to green your life - eco-fashions & jewelry, home & garden, hybrid vehicles, solar panels, health and wellness products, fashion & gifts for babies, kids and more!
  • Sample some delicious local foods
Rock out to live music!

On the 104.5 CHUM FM main stage
12 noon - 9:45pm
with performances by:
  • Liz Coyles - 12:00 noon
  • Kira Isabella - 1:00 pm
  • Suzie McNeil - 2:00 pm
  • Raghav - 3:00 pm
  • JRDN - 4:00 pm
  • Kristina Maria - 5:00 pm
  • Karl Wolf - 6:00 pm
  • Platinum Blonde - 7:00 pm
  • Fefe Dobson - 8:00 pm
  • Faber Drive - 9:00 pm
for more information and Festival Highlights
please visit:

Come join us at our booth #29, along with dozens of other Home & Garden booths and entertainment on Saturday, July 21 from 11 am to 9 pm at Yonge-Dundas Square, and celebrate a green Toronto! #LGTOFestival

Check out our Special Offer for Live Green Toronto Members:
Save 5% off the retail cost of green roofs, solar, geothermal or heat recovery measures with any Wo-Built renovation

Our Green Commitment
We are dedicated to being environmentally conscious and have embraced Green Design and Build Construction in all our projects. We strive to be the leading design and build company that is sought after for its innovative design and quality construction and one that is recognized for using their projects as a means to help women, the community and the environment.

For more information click here to get all the festival details!

Oh, yeah, Cathy's Crawly Composters booth will be there!

Live Green Toronto Festival July 21, 2012, poster by livegreentoronto.caPoster: Live Green Toronto Festival July 21, 2012
Yonge-Dundas Square 11 am to 9 pm
Get your green on! #LGTOFestival
100+ vendors; local foods; TD Kids’ Zone; cd/dvd/book swap
104.5 CHUM FM Main Stage free concerts!
Credit: Shop and save at dozens of Membership Card businesses on July 21.
Check out the special deals offered at the festival.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Career Buzz interview with Martina Ernst, President & CEO, Wo-Built Inc.

Career Buzz Canada CIUT 89.5 Show, screenshot
CIUT 89.5 Show: Career Buzz Canada, Wednesday, 11-12 pm
Be inspired by ordinary people with extraordinary stories
who share the secret twists and turns in their own careers and lives.
Screenshot credit:

Recently, a good friend of mine, Mark Swartz, asked me to take part in his radio show Career Buzz as he wanted to do a segment on Social Entrepreneurship.

Mark has been a Career advisor for many years and his show provides information about possible career directions and choices.

I was very touched that he thought that I could contribute to the subject, but albeit a bit nervous as I usually don't call myself a social entrepreneur. But Mark managed to get some useful information out of me and I hope you will enjoy listening to the interview.

Many thanks to Mark Swartz for making this interview a success.

~ Martina Ernst

Martina Ernst interview on Career Buzz Canada with Mark Swartz

The following is the transcript of a recent Career Buzz interview with Martina Ernst, President & CEO, Wo-Built Inc., one of few female-led design and build companies in Toronto.

Part 1:
What Wo-Built is about?
How the company has a social entrepreneurship bend?
What kind of successes had Wo-Built had?

Mark: Welcome to Career Buzz - Canada’s unique radio conversation that empowers lives, riches careers and energizes organizations.

Hi, I am Mark Swartz, founder of Career Activist dot com, Canada’s free career website. Social entrepreneurship - what is it? Well, it’s basically entrepreneurship with a social mission: making money, while making a difference. Maybe you will start your own business but you want to inject the measure of social goodness still make a profit.

I have two fascinating young ladies with me this afternoon and they are going to talk about their experiences with social entrepreneurship. Coming up with the second half of this show I have Elisa Birnbaum. She has started a nationwide online magazine called seechangemagazine dot ca, and she features social entrepreneurship and small businesses, medium sized businesses from coast to coast who have been able to put together a viable business plan and an ongoing business while also injecting social mission.

But right now with us in the studio I have a wonderful individual and friend, her name Martina Ernst. Now, Martina started off a company called Wo-Built, and what is the designation at the end to the web-site?

Martina: It is dot com.

Mark: Martina has a background in design/build construction building and also she looks at the green side of the equation. So, welcome this morning, Martina.

Martina: Thanks Mark.

Mark: It’s great to have you here.

Martina: Thanks for inviting me.

Mark: Now, you have got some interesting things going on at your company and it’s called Wo-Built. But maybe you can tell me a little bit about what the company is about and how it has social entrepreneurship bend?

Martina: We are design and build contractor for residential market and also for small commercial projects. We specialize for residential market for additions, extensions, new build and on the commercial side we like to be involved with the alternative medical community and build offices for them.

Mark: OK, you say you build offices. What is that in tell?

Martina: Usually, it is interior renovations because these offices are in larger commercial buildings and we do fit-outs for them.

Mark: OK, now, Wo-Built is short for … what exactly?

Martina: It is short for ‘women build’ because the company is 100 percent women-owned. So, roughly about 6 years ago I met my business partner Elida Huignard and we actually met at a CAWIC, which is the Canadian Association of Women in Construction, it was their inauguration party. So, we got chatting and we were both pretty much taken by the number of women in construction we actually saw there. It’s still a rarity to see women in construction.

Mark: Certainly, in Canada, it is.

Martina: So, we identified that there is an opportunity there to actually help women in construction, and one of the things we said when we got chatting was why don’t we open up a construction company that helps mentor women. It was our social mission. We started Wo-Built with a social mission at its heart which was mentoring women in construction. We see ourselves as a little bit a stepping stone for them. We hire young women out of colleges. They want to go into the construction industry as trade’s women and we offer them a stepping stone on our sites to start off their careers there. So they have their first site experience and afterwards we hope they actually find a contractor which can give them an apprenticeship because we are not set up for that.

Mark: Great. Wo-Built is a social entrepreneurial business in design/build and you help young women get their feet into the whole area of construction building. What kind of successes had you had over because you have been in business for how long, Martina?

Martina: Just, over five years.

Mark: OK, what kinds of successes have come up over that time?

Martina: Well, we actually had a couple of women which we helped in our sites and since then they moved onto what we believed to a better thing – in construction. They actually started big careers and we were very happy to be able to be helpful to them to start off their careers. We felt that women actually had more difficulties to start careers as tradeswomen in construction because there might be a perceived disadvantage maybe in terms of strengths or skills, or so. We are helping them by giving them their first experience on site.

Please click here for part two: Career Buzz interview with Martina Ernst, President & CEO, Wo-Built Inc.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

What to Know about the Zoning Review of Your Building Permit

City of Toronto: Building Division Customer Service, screenshot
Screenshot: City of Toronto: Building Division
Customer Service; Building Permits & Approvals
Building Plan Review; Building Inspections

Just some thoughts to share in case you have decided to improve your life and to remodel or renovate your home. What changes require Committee approval?

I am sitting again at one of the building departments of the City of Toronto waiting for my name to be called to submit drawings for permit. Luckily we did not have to go for a Committee of Adjustment decision for this one as it is an interior renovation, but in all of our previous larger buildings we had to follow this step too.

A Committee of Adjustment decision is required if some of the by-laws are infringed by the new design. By-laws are there to make sure that the proposed building does fit into the neighbourhood and does not infringe on the rights of the neighbours. They govern such issues as parking, garage requirements, landscaping, distance to your neighbours, lot/sq ft ratios, height of building etc.

For example if the existing building is located too close to the neighbour’s building the existing walls are grandfathered in. However, any addition on to of the walls will infringe the by-law.

Another example is if an existing previous extension was not done with permits after a certain date and the design calls for changes it may be necessary to legalize the previous work first.

Your designer will have a good idea if an application to the committee will be required or you can ask the zoning department for the list of by-laws governing your property. In addition you can ask for copies of by-laws if you are interested.

However, there are so many by-laws that affect your property and any changes that it is advisable to go for a zoning review before going for permit to ensure that one is not missed.

If by-laws are infringed two actions can be taken.
  • Either, the design is amended to such an extent that it adheres to the by-laws or an application is made for variance.
  • If time is a factor, it might be better to change the design; however, the compromises required might not be acceptable and therefore an application to the Committee might be better.
As a design and construction company we can help you through the process to make it as efficient as possible.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build
Wo-Built Inc.: Renovation Design Tips: Tip 1: Know Your Zoning and By-laws
Wo-Built Inc.: Renovation Design Tips: Tip 2: Design Time
Wo-Built Inc.: Renovation Design Tips: Tip 3: Professionals Involved in the Design

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A New Construction Paradigm for Buildings

Fresh Air Indoor Ecosystem from Peapod Life

In my resent post Being Inspired by the Little Bit of Magic in My 'Backyard' I talked about the park that is magic, a small working eco-system in the middle of an urban environment, a place that derives its magic from the co-existence of its stakeholders, humans and animals, and its aliveness. The place resonates on an emotional level, bringing happiness and joy. I also eluded to that these elements could be key to a livable and sustainable design for interior spaces for the future.

But why bother pushing this concept? We seem to be happy with the status quo of building. Boxes with windows which according to the new building codes will have to have higher and higher degrees of insulation and less air leakage; trying to seal the building off from the outside world to achieve less energy consumption or net zero energy consumption. But we believe that this is a kneejerk reaction to an issue, but not the solution for the future. This approach disregards the natural environment that can be used to make our lives livable, we need daylight, natural ventilation.

Using an integrated eco system to enhance the interior space, living windows, living walls, living floor, nature as your decorator – what are the advantages?

The advantages are:
  1. Better air quality. With the right eco-system you can have air that is 10 times better than the outside City air. Less stress, less respiratory difficulties;
  2. Growing your own food 12 month of the year. We have food shortage in the City, there are areas where people do not have access to fresh food, also food variety has dwindled due to the way we produce our fresh food. So with a living eco-system the personal food production could be supplemented;
  3. Ample use of daylight/sunlight. We as human beings need bright spaces for our physical and mental health. It provides Vitamin D;
  4. Use of living wall systems that use aquaponics (fish and plants), next generation on food supply;
  5. Integrated systems: a. such as solar cells for energy generation to help growing the plants and reduce overall energy consumption in homes; b. rain water recovery for watering;
  6. Future push for better and newer building materials which will make these eco systems more effective;
  7. But the most important reason: Tranquility: Plants help regenerate your emotional state. There is nothing better than sitting in your garden, or going out into nature, all of this has a calming quality. Just imagine having this at home 12 months of the year. This space is like a sanctuary, emotional reactions, joy and happiness.
These are some of the reasons why this approach to building is worth pursuing. We might even be talking about a new construction paradigm in building.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Stay tuned as we will keep you posted with updates, here on our blog.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

How to Turn Your Bungalow into a Dream House Mansion

Turning your bungalow into a dream house mansion, collage by
Collage: Wo-Built's Renovation Projects: the Ranch and the Tower
Interesting Bungalow Additions with Architectural Merit.
Credit: MS Office ClipArt: Silhouettes

Initial steps to take to turn your bungalow into a dream house mansion

You bought the tiny 600 sq ft bungalow a few years back, your family was small, room was enough. You bought the house, because you liked the neighbourhood, the right schools, the back yard was a real bonus for you.

Now, your family has grown, you need more space, the kitchen is not working anymore and everyone is getting fed up. But you don't want to move, your kids friends are here, you actually like your neighbours and you have grown attached to the back yard. Any other houses you have looked at always need work to make it your own.

So, how about adding to the beloved bungalow? Many of your neighbours have done it, so why not you?

Step 1: Family Powwow
It is important to get everyone's wish list first and to see what you want to implement. It may be that there are many conflicting needs and wishes within your family. Resolve them as much as you can prior to embarking on the design.

With other words know what you want, the design process will go so much faster.

Step 2: Beg Your Financial Institution for Money
Before talking to any designer or contractor know your money situation. Fix your budget. Don't get estimates before you know how much you can afford. Be upfront with your designers, so that they don't a palace you cannot afford or hire a design and build company that will ensure that you can afford the design and guide you through the process.

Remember you will most likely need funds to live somewhere else during the construction time.

Step 3: Planning, Planning and Glorious Planning
This is the fun part. You will sit down with a designer or a Design and Build company to create your dream house. Planning does not just involve any permit drawings, but also your finishes, where you will stay and many other things. All these issues will have to be resolved before you start construction. The advantage of having a design and build company on board at the start is that tight control is maintained on the budget.

Never design to the maximum budget, always have a 10%-20% contingency fund available.

Step 4: We Are off to the City
If you add to your existing building the chances are that you will have apply for variances for existing by-laws before applying for building permit. This will increase the design time, however it gives more time for planning. Other issues to look out for are trees on your property. The City will require tree deposits for city owned trees.

Another deposit which may be required is a road side curb deposit.

The next step is to choose your contractor and you can find a good description here.

If you have any questions about any of the above please contact us. We would be happy to help you.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build