February 6, 2012

Job creation with a green touch

Way down in Vancouver, they got some good ideas about how to help the environment and create jobs at the same time — an idea which could really help us folks way up here in Northern Canada who watch the ice melt and the polar bears freak out.

One of my buddies there sent me this business editorial from the Vancouver Sun about how retrofitting buildings in British Columbia built before 1984 could cut down on carbon emissions and keep people employed.

A construction worker on a 'green roof' at the 2010 Athletes Village in Vancouver, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010. (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)(From The Epoch Times)

Wouldn’t need any of the usual zoning and planning hassles or special equipment — just the usual good-idea stuff:  insulation, high-performance windows and doors, weatherstripping, super-efficient heating and cooling systems:

Retrofitting 100,000 homes a year in B.C. would keep 14,000 to 30,000 tradespeople employed, including electricians, heating/air conditioning installers, carpenters, insulation workers, building inspectors and others.

Saves the homeowner, too.  There ain’t a house up here that don’t have weatherstripping and state of the art insulation, all that stuff, if you can afford it.  Otherwise the heating bills go through the roof, literally.  Here’s their idea:

Retrofitting homes results in energy conservation and can save homeowners thousands of dollars and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A report by the Columbia Foundation shows that at current energy prices, a homeowner can double his or her return — over $12,000 on an average $6,000 investment in energy efficiency over 25 years — by making simple changes like upgrading hot-water tanks and home heating and cooling systems, and improving weatherization and home insulation…

It costs up front, but the writers have some ideas how B.C. (British Columbia) can help out its residents:

[U]pfront retrofit costs can be eliminated through innovative financing arrangements: loans provided to homeowners by municipalities, financial institutions, utilities or other funders can be paid back gradually through small payments on property taxes or utility bills. The financing obligations are included on a property tax bill as a surcharge until completely paid off, even if the property changes owners in the interim.

Sounds good to me.

The icebergs up here like the idea, too.



January 19, 2012

Rethinking beauty: Solar energy

One common complaint about windmill farms and and solar panels is that they’re “ugly.”  (I often wonder what these same people think about a factory chimney billowing black smoke from into the air.)  Are people afraid of the unfamiliar?  Or are they mostly just anesthetized to something they’ve seen their whole lives?

I’m always glad when somebody shows they can be beautiful.  GOOD Magazine published these beautiful photos of a solar farm in Le Mées, France, which provides electricity for 9,000 families, built by an energy company called Efinity.

GOOD describes the rolling pastures as being somewhat Frank Gehry-esque, and while I’m not a big Gehry fan, I have to agree:  this is pretty stunning.

December 14, 2011

Change By Us

“Hey NYC!  How can we make our city a greener, greater place to live?”

That’s the question that Change By Us wants you to help answer.  It’s an interactive place to share and read ideas on an interactive bulletin board, create or join a project, and reach out to a network of local leaders to get your idea heard.

Their homepage is a colorful electronic “bulletin board” where you can put your idea on a Post-It.  You can search other people’s ideas and projects, or start your own.

I think every city should have something like this.  The hard part is getting people to do stuff, right?  Sigh.  I know I’m only in high school, but I feel like it’s OK for me to say that in a jaded voice.

Later, Tater (tots).


October 12, 2011

Get some “Bright Ideas”


I hear the U.S. government’s trying to ban incandescent light bulbs, but the American citizens don’t like it.  Freedom of choice and all that.  Now, if you ask me, they got too much choice.  Thirty-six different kinds of cereal in every grocery store?  That’s just crazy.  But I digress.

Anyway, everybody knows that there’s these new lightbulbs, more energy-efficient and all that, but people don’t buy ‘em ‘cause they’re more expensive, even though they last longer.  Or they don’t like the light they give off.  Now me, I’m always happy to buy a quality product that saves me money in the long run and helps save energy.  We got ‘em at the general store and the hardware store in town.  Once you seen a polar bear floating around on a loose block of ice, you’re gonna buy the energy-efficient light bulb, ‘cause if not, then you’re just kinda bein’ a rebel for no reason, in my opinion.  Maybe they oughta put a picture of a polar bear on the new lightbulb packages.  Seems to me most folks respond better to animals than people.  Just sayin’. 

When the first energy-efficient bulbs came out, truth be told, the light they gave off was kinda creepy.  I put one in my kitchen and I wasn’t sure if I was at my dinner table or at the morgue.  Just sayin’.  But now they got all kinds, and they look a lot nicer.     

My pal who’s an electrician forwarded me this thing, which has lots of good info about the different kinds of light bulbs.  Maybe they should put this at the WalMarts and the Home Depots down in the States for all the people who don’t see what we see up here.

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