Whether it’s your rising energy bill or your environmentally conscious self, renewable sources of energy offer ways to be kind to your pocketbook and Mother Nature.
Renewable Energy Sources Happening In Canada. Slideshow text follows below for mobile readers.
Many Torontonians drive by the 30-stories tall wind turbine at Exhibition Place these days without noticing it—it’s become a fixture on the Toronto skyline, but this powerful turbine puts out about 1 million kilowatt hours of clean wind energy annually, which is enough electricity to power about 100 homes for a year. You may also not realize that this is North America’s first urban turbine—most can’t be built in cities given zoning regulations and the fact that residential areas often tend to interfere with the flow of wind needed to generate power.
When one thinks of Canada’s cold climate, solar power, ie. converting sunlight into energy, may not be the first resource that comes to mind. But we have a wealth of solar energy resources, focused more in Ontario, Quebec and the Prairie provinces. While the solar-power industry is in a bit of a tenuous position (the abundance of supply and subsidies being slashed being at the root of the downturn), installing solar panels can be a simple way to cut your energy bill, and kits are readily available at your local building supply store such as Home Depot. As for solar-powered businesses, in Red Deer, Alta., the Comfort Inn & Suites is one of Canada’s most energy-efficient hotels. Thanks to rooftop solar panels, 520 tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be saved.
In 2009, Toronto was the first North American city to implement a green-roof bylaw, which requires all new construction to feature a green roof of no less area than 2,000 square metres. How does a green roof help benefit condos such as Tridel’s The Republic condo and North Toronto Collegiate Institute? By providing insulation, absorbing heat and collecting rainwater, not to mention helping to clean the air.
You may never say “Rain, rain go away, come again some other day,” when you hear this: A University of Guelph study found that rainwater harvesting (that is, capturing rainwater runoff and storing it for use later) could decrease household potable water demands by as much as 47 percent. One company that’s implemented rainwater harvesting is IKEA Canada. At its new location in Richmond Hill, Ont., impermeable pavement absorbs rainwater and helps to improve drainage. (And this is just one of the sustainable features included here—the new store also boasts reflective rooftop to minimize solar gain, occupancy sensors and fans to reduce heating requirements, and much more).
Now non-car owners in Montreal who opt to take public transit and to walk or ride their bikes as a way to reduce their carbon footprint have an eco-friendly option when it comes to renting a car for those occasional times they need a vehicle. Communauto added a fleet of electric Nissan Leaf cars to their car-sharing service this year so you can get around the city without feeling ridden with guilt about your greenhouse gas emissions.