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Solar thermal advocates are fond of reminding us that homes, especially those in Canada use about 70 per cent of their energy for heating. As solar photovoltaic prices continue to plummet, some net-zero home builders have started pairing solar PV with air-source heat pumps for space heating and electric resistance water heaters to produce hot water.
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It's not always easy to separate the energy used to heat your home from that used to power lights and appliances, heat water, and charge electronics. For example, there are two different electricity rates (or tiers) charged by your utility. After consuming a certain amount of energy each month, you start being charged at a higher rate. Both B.C. Hydro and FortisBC also charge a fixed amount on each bill, in addition to charging for the energy you consume. You can see how it might be difficult to understand the costs and benefits of different heating options.
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By setting the bar so that new homes and buildings perform better and pollute less -- at no additional cost -- we are taking an important step toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, and bringing construction standards in line with those being adopted across Europe and North America. The city's new policy will save us money, expand the number of jobs in green construction, and benefit our health. It's an exciting blueprint for what will become the new normal in construction in B.C. and across Canada.
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If people change their lights and use more energy-efficient appliances, who cares if they believe in climate change? The focus should be on demonstrating how they are freeing up money for other spending, protecting their jobs by making their workplace more competitive and slowing the expensive expansion of the power system.
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With the new federal budget, Canada's government is sending a strong signal that it intends to follow through on its commitment to curb carbon pollution from our homes and buildings. By focusing on social housing, the budget also signals a resolve to ensure energy efficiency will benefit all Canadians.
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Building energy benchmarking is a key tool for enabling informed and sound decision-making in energy management. Requiring reporting enables governments to prioritize and evaluate policies including regulation and incentives, while public disclosure enables the real estate sector to measure and value high performance buildings.
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In 2015, the city of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, achieved the highest level of wind power integration in North America. While the province of P.E.I. is already a leader with 26 per cent of its electricity coming from wind power, the City of Summerside Electric Utility has ratcheted that up to an astonishing 46 per cent by adding a smart grid with energy storage.
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Pickering is already 15 years past its best before date. It's the fourth oldest nuclear station in North America and the seventh oldest nuclear station in the world. Given its age, it is not surprising that Pickering is one of the most unreliable and poorest performing nuclear plants in North America.
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Wastefully exploiting and burning fossil fuels is outdated. There's no reason to put money into industries that destroy the natural systems that make human life possible. But there are many reasons to stop giving them money.
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If you missed International Games Day -- held each November to promote fun, camaraderie and learning through the playing of games of all types -- don't despair. Here's a simple way to combine the fun and learning of International Games Day with the sustainability focus of Earth Day.
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An earthship is an off-grid home that produces its own energy, captures its own water, treats its own wastewater, grows its own food and passively collects the sun's energy for heat. That's the idea, anyways. But ever since the Kinney Earthship was built in the summer of 2014, Duncan Kinney has received many emails about one particular subject: how does it hold up so far north?
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The era of net-zero homes is upon us. These super-efficient homes use rooftop solar energy production and smaller, electric powered heating systems such as air source heat pumps to produce as much energy as they consume. That's some sexy technology, but it only gets us halfway to net-zero. The real secret is insulation.
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Carl Lauren's company Tyee Custom Homes builds about 12 homes a year and about six of those are in Kimberley. Lauren says making homes energy efficient today is important because homes are going to last 50 years or more. The better the home, the more energy saved, and those lower emissions are going to be way into the future.
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CO is a leading cause of accidental poisonings in Ontario every year, which result in thousands of people requiring medical treatment. And, in Ontario, 80 per cent of all CO deaths and injuries occur in homes. Most (83 per cent) Ontarians have at least one CO detector, but there is still room for improvement
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For more than two decades, Mark Jaccard has been penning "report cards" about Canada's environmental track record. The results haven't been pretty. His annual evaluations were harnessed in the mid-2000s by Stephen Harper as arguments for why the Conservatives deserved a shot at governing the country. Jaccard's latest report card, released on October 6, concludes the Conservative Party has since "implemented virtually no policies that would materially reduce emissions" despite making significant emissions pledges for 2020 and 2050. Jaccard concludes the absence of such actions shows "they must have had no intention" of dealing with climate change.
From staking vampire power to funding low-income retrofits, we can stop Canadian homes from wasting electricity and leaking energy.
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Governments and developers love issuing press releases announcing the opening of shiny new schools, rec centres and office buildings. Chances are good these days that building will be LEED silver, gold or even platinum.
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Energy consultants have been helping companies reduce operator error, identifying energy wasting systems and proposing energy efficient retrofits for a while now. But what is new is the next generation of energy efficiency companies who are using super smart meters and big data to identify, measure and wrestle energy sucking systems to submission.
The holiday season is here and here are our ideas for the green energy nerd on your Christmas list. This year we've got five gifts that would look great under the tree for the person in your life who loves energy efficiency or clean energy.
To borrow a popular internet meme, what if I told you we could build suburbs that preserved the natural landscape, had super energy efficient homes, built a sense of community and had no vinyl siding. Well we can, and the neighborhood of Echohaven, in the northwest community of Rocky Ridge in Calgary is doing precisely that. The homes of Echohaven must be super energy efficient, collect rainwater and are located in an oasis of nature. Echohaven has turned the modern process of building a neighbourhood on its ear
Most of us want to do something good for the environment. An easy way is to spend a few dollars buying carbon offsets, perhaps to make us feel less guilty about that long-haul flight we're planning. Turns out those offsets could be more valuable than we thought.
A net-zero home reimagines the house not as a burden on the planet but as a regenerative node. Net-zero homes only started being seriously considered about a decade ago, but once proven, the idea took off.
Walk into a hardware store these days and you'll find more varieties of light bulbs than ever before. Some may look a bit strange and cost a bit more than the incandescent bulbs that used to be the no...
It's a beautiful, livable, functional net-zero experiment -- welcome to the home of architect Shafraaz Kaba. Sitting on a corner lot, at the top of the bank of the North Saskatchewan River, the home is a tall and narrow three-story home with solar modules and a flat roof.
Building a net-zero home is an intricate dance between design, technology and location. But if you build a net-zero home in the wilds, far from your work, school and entertainment, with no infrastructure and an hour-long commute how sustainable is it?
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Over the course of a year a net-zero home will generate as much energy as it consumes. They've been around for less than 10 years, but these buildings and the thinking behind them are taking North America by storm.
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For utilities, behaviour-based energy efficiency programs could make for happier customers, as industrial and household ratepayers alike are ready to be empowered to better manage their energy use and bills. Similarly, policymakers charged with delivering on energy efficiency will appreciate having one more arrow in their quiver.
When you walk into the Truly Green greenhouse the smell of tomatoes is heavy in the air. Their location across the street from Greenfield is no accident. The plan is to take nearly all of the waste heat and leftover CO2 from the ethanol plant and use it to grow tomatoes.
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Standards are also incredibly powerful energy efficiency tools. While it's unlikely that we'll ban top-loading washers like we have incandescent light bulbs, as the price, reliability and efficiency of front-loading washing machines increases the old, inefficient top-loading design will simply fade away.
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Ontario had exactly the same amount of absolute megawatts derived from coal as we do now and their last plant closes this year. It's a tiny little plant. It's in Thunder Bay which only has 300 megawatts and it's the last one to close and they'll have no more coal-fired power in that province.
Ask any economist and they will tell you that GDP growth is good. So if more people get cancer, that's great, because spending on health care increases. But you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that more cancer, catastrophe and war are not good.
What's stopping Ontario from creating 25,000 jobs while slashing government deficits, boosting GDP by almost $4-billion and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by nine per cent? Not much, really. It's simply a matter of doing more of the things we all do every day: turning off lights, insulating, buying more energy efficient appliances. We all conserve energy every day, but we can do much more to save more. And to do so, we need government to lead.