The Atlantic Green Show- Nov. 2010

If you are building a new house or renovating your old house, there are now many products and services that will increase your energy efficiency and decrease your bills as well as your personal ‘carbon footprint’.

Discover the possibilities at the first show of this kind in the Maritimes, The Atlantic Green Show, held from Nov 19-21 at the Moncton Coliseum, where everything from recycled paint to residential wind generators will be on display.

Home owners and contractors can investigate the many different ways to build a home, as well as explore energy efficient windows and appliances, environmentally friendly counter tops, flagstones and renewable resource bamboo floors. Meanwhile, children can learn and play at the Kids Zone Center for no charge, hosted by the Fundy Biosphere and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Tickets are already on sale for the keynote speaker on Saturday, David Suzuki.

 “You can build a house that is greener and you can drive that greener car”, says Claudia Simmonds, the organizer of the Atlantic Green Show and the CEO of the Canadian Home Builders Association in New Brunswick, adding that there will also be hybrid cars on display at the show.

“And if you think about it,’, says Simmond, “that not only helps everything you do have less impact on Mother Earth, which is the upside, but you are also going to save yourself so much money “.

Simmond says that the concept of R2000 was actually created by the CHBA,  “She explains that although the mandate of the CHBA is not green ‘per se’, the New Brunswick branch started thinking about making more efficient homes thirty years ago, long before the concept of ‘carbon’ footprint” was on everyone’s radar.   The standard energy efficiency program that we all refer to as ‘R-2000’, was created after the NB branch of the CHBA approached the Federal government for assistance in building a national set of standards for home building.  “They named it the R2000 program because that is what they wanted homes to be in the year 2000”, says Simmond.

The Atlantic Green Show was created for those who are just beginning to go green and those who are a “darker shade of green”, says Simmond.   “The show is designed to be a learning tool for people “, says Simmond, “You may just be getting started going green or you may want to take it to the next shade”.

The TD Bank is at the show with the “green mortgage’, a program for people of all shades of green, which has been created as an incentive for energy efficient house construction and renovation. Offered to new and existing customers, the incentive program is meant to support customers who make environmentally friendly choices. Home owners who choose to ‘go green’ can be eligible for cash rebates of  up to 1.5 % of the amount of their mortgage and a one percent discount off their posted rate on a five year mortgage.

If you have already joined the green revolution and want to do even more than conserve, you can make a conscious choice to avoid fossil burning or the creation of nuclear waste. You can make a positive statement with your power bill by buying into “100% green electricity” with Bullfrog Power. The Atlantic Green Show has bought into Bullfrog Power and can now boast that the entire three day show will leave a ‘zero foot print’.

“Everything  connected  to the Atlantic Green Show is going to leave a zero footprint”, says Simmond, “We are not going to emit any GHG, (greenhouse gas emissions)   because we are buying all of our power that we consume in the show  from a company called Bullfrog Power. The power we will use has been achieved by wind and hydro and we are paying for that to be generated and then we putting it back down the line”. 

Tom Heintzman, President and co-founder of Bullfrog Power, an environmental lawyer who helped establish the Sierra Legal Defence Fund’s Ontario office, has just celebrated the fifth year of his new business that has branches in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia. 

According to Holly Bond, the Director of Eastern Regions for Bullfrog Power, the idea for the business came up in conversation with co-founder Greg Kiessling, “They said, too bad people do not have a choice about what kind of electricity they can use, we should be able to have a choice, we can choose what sort of car we drive, what food we eat, but we don’t have any choice of electricity, so they started the company in Toronto five years ago”.

But how does it work?  Instead of saving money you commit to spending more for your electricity. “We had a campaign out in the east coast” says Bond, “and the pins that we wore said “Pay More for Energy’ and I thought, either this will work or we’ll get beat up”.  But Bond says she has been happily surprised by the enthusiasm for Bullfrog Power in the east coast, acknowledging that customers already have rising electricity rates.

“It is actually really simple”, says Bond “We are just ensuring that they are injecting the equivalent amount of electricity, green eco logo certified by Environment Canada, on to the gird and that displaces your environmental footprint.”  After signing up on-line and receiving your monthly bill for ‘green electricity’, residential customers get a small sign for their lawn to announce their Bullfrog connection. And large corporations like Wal-Mart, which has signed up seven stores, none in the Maritimes at present, are also proud to advertise their Bullfrog power.

The ‘green energy’ in New Brunswick comes from a few wind projects and a medium sized low-impact hydro facility in St. George.  Bond says that in the last five years, with the growing participation of Bullfrog customers, small wind farms have been able to increase their productivity.

“Over 850 utilities in the United States have an offering somewhat like Bullfrog Power”, says Bond, “It is huge”. She says that every new customer provides proof that there are people “who will purchase green energy and will not be satisfied until there is 100 % renewable energy in the voluntary market”.

For an average house the extra cost of supporting ‘100% green electricity’ is about twenty dollars a month, which is ”less than a dollar a day” according to their rallying promotional video. The principle behind Bullfrog Power is that while we may pay less for electricity now, we will pay for it in the long run in the health consequences of air pollution and the effects of climate change. And the long term goal for Bullfrog Power is to make an impact on the industry by showing that there is a demand for cleaner electricity.

 “You can pay now or you can pay later, but you are going to pay”, says Simmond, “The green movement is coming, people are about to do things better, do things smarter, living green is a smart way to live.”

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