Category: Energy Efficiency

2017 Chevy Bolt EV

167. Chevy Bolt: the first low-priced, long-range electric vehicle

Two important things happened in the electric vehicle (EV) world in recent months: Late last year Quebec became the first Canadian province to adopt a requirement for the sales of zero-emission vehicles and then in February General Motors debuted its long awaited Chevy Bolt, a long range, low-priced EV.

Skeena passive house

163. Skeena – Canada’s largest passive house

The Heights is an 85-unit apartment complex in Vancouver that is the largest passive house in Canada. The project is leading the way to for a zero emissions building policy in Vancouver.

162. 2016 year in review

From wind-powered cities and schools to net-zero straw-bale homes, Green Energy Futures reflects on our green energy past.

160. Green gift guide 2016

Green Energy Futures takes the stress out of holiday shopping with this cheat sheet of green gift ideas.

157. Straw-bale 101: A tale of two homes

This is a tale of two straw-bale homes: one a standard energy efficient, environmentally friendly straw-bale home built for Nora Bumanis, the harpist for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra; and second a net-zero, super energy efficient home built by Lance and Wendy Olson at Buffalo Lake, Alberta. See how a straw-bale home is built in our video!

The Temperance Street Passive House will be the first passive house certified in Saskatchewan. Photo David Dodge,

139. The first certified passive house in Saskatchewan

We visit what will be the first certified passive house in Saskatchewan, Canada. This is somewhat ironic, because the first concept passive house ever was built in Saskatchewan in the 1970s by passive house pioneer Harold Orr. Meet Harold and see this amazing home!

Energy audits are often supported by municipal or provincial energy efficiency programs because they provide a strategic recipe book for all future energy efficiency improvements to businesses or homes. It provides hard, cold facts about return on investment for each change you are contemplating. It might be the best money you spend. Here, Rob Gawreletz inspects the attic insulation and seals in a home audit by CReturns, in Edmonton, Alberta. Photo David Dodge,

138. Energy efficiency coming to Alberta, at last!

This week, we visit a conference on energy efficiency that’s looking to to change Alberta’s current lack of program support for energy efficiency initiatives.

Visiting the Kinney Earthship, in the dead of winter on the Canadian prairie landscape north of Lethbridge, Alberta does invite comparisons with the lunar landscape! So much so it inspired photographer Steve Nagy to create this selfie in the middle of the night on a fine winter day. And in fact the number one question the Kinney's get about their Earthship is how does this passive solar heated home work when it's -30 degrees celsius.

136. Earthship living in a cold Canadian winter

How does a passive solar heated Earthship fare in the long cold Canadian winter. This week we return to a familiar place, the Kinney Family Earthship, to see how it holds up in the middle of a cold Canadian prairie winter.

Peter Amerongen is one of the acknowledged grandfathers of the net-zero home—a home that produces as much energy as it consumes. Using his secret formula for insulation you can make a net-zero home in the most northerly city in North America. Photo David Dodge,

132. Insulation 101: One builder’s secret blueprint for a net-zero home

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. But the real secret is insulation. Peter Amerongen shows us Habitat Studio’s unique formula for insulating the heck out of a home.

Carl Lauren of Tyee Log and Timber Homes in Kimberley B.C. wanted to promote energy efficiency in home building so he pushed City Hall to start a program. Pictured is the crew that hand builds log homes at Tyee in Kimberley. Photo David Dodge,

131. Small town energy efficiency program is simple by design

Carl Lauren, owner of Tyee Custom Homes, wanted to encourage energy efficient design in construction, but the building code hamstrung his efforts. So he helped create a rebate system that gets around the bureaucracy!

91. Green Gift Guide

The best gifts for the green energy or energy efficiency nerd in your life.

DIY Solar Hot Water Heater Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

90. Solar air heating

We spend a lot of money and burn a lot of carbon keeping our homes and buildings warm. Solar air heating is a simple, effective and accessible technology that could help Canada reduce its heating bills.

Wilbur McLean, a communications officer with the city of Medicine Hat, stands in front of a wall of smart meters. Medicine Hat has installed 26,000 smart meters.

85. How to make your smart meter even smarter

Chances are the electricity meter in your home is dumb as a sack of hammers. We head to Medicine Hat, Alberta, to find out what smart meters are, and we talk to the CEO of a company that makes smart meters even smarter.

Landmark Solar Townhomes

81. Chasing Net Zero: Go big or go home

Landmark Homes is planning to have all of their homes be net-zero by 2015. Learn how net-zero is transitioning from small custom home builders to large scale companies.

Shafraaz and Serena Kaba’s near net-zero home was inspired by the German concept of the Passivhaus, a super energy efficient home that requires very little energy for heating or cooling. The home is air tight, very well insulated and it gets half its heating from passive solar energy streaming through the windows. Photo Darren Greenwood

80: Chasing Net Zero: Net-zero evolution

In 10 years net-zero homes have gone from government pilot project to mass production. Shafraaz Kaba’s near net-zero home is an excellent example of how we got there.

Spo'pi solar house

79. Chasing Net Zero: Net-zero beautiful

We look at making energy efficient, infill homes that are beautiful and also at how the location of your home can have a dramatic effect on your energy footprint.

Photo Garth Crump Chasing net-zero Part 1: Net-zero 101

78. Chasing Net Zero: Net-zero 101

The first episode of our four-part series Chasing Net-Zero.  We dive into the history of net-zero homes and figure out you can build one of these comfortable, beautiful homes that also doubles as a mini-powerplant.

Angelo Ligori, plant manager of Greenfield Specialty AlcoholsPhoto David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Greenfield Industrial Alcohols - industrial symbiosis

76. An integrated ethanol biorefinery wastes not

Learn how a seriously integrated ethanol plant has become a central hub for half a dozen other businesses using its byproducts of heat, CO2, distillers grains and more!

Bryn Davidson, designer of the Lanefab laneway Energuide 90 home in Vancouver, BC.

69. Vancouver’s laneway homes

Come take a tour of a super energy efficient laneway home in Vancouver and talk to a builder of these tiny, fun homes.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Oxford’s Centennial Bldg Calgary Jan. 29 2014

64. Urban cogeneration

Cogeneration is a simple, effective idea – generate electricity from the waste heat from a boiler. We explore a 370 kilowatt unit powering and heating an office building in downtown Calgary.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Passive Solar Heating Belgravia Net-zero Home in Edmonton, Alberta

63. The power of passive solar and thermal mass

Passive solar energy and its running buddy thermal mass give you the opportunity to get a significant portion of your home’s heat for free from the sun.

In a home audit by CReturns in Edmonton, Alberta an infared camera reveals heat leakage around the windows. The complete blanket of insulation and high performance R8 windows cut down on heat loss dramatically in new super insulated net-zero homes. Photo David Dodge,

62. The massive potential of energy efficiency

Learn how the energy efficiency policy process works and how, if applied in Alberta, Canada’s biggest carbon emitter could save a ton of money and get halfway to its 2020 greenhouse gas emission targets.

60. Phasing out coal in Alberta

We talk to a doctor who knows the true health costs of coal in Alberta as well as Alberta’s new Associate Minister of Renewable Energy and Electricity on what she would replace coal with.

The CREE 60-watt equivalent LED light bulb

58. The incandescent light bulb phase out is a good thing

The incandescent light bulb phase-out is akin to getting rid of leaded gas, CFCs or the Ford Pinto. It is unequivocally a good news story. Learn why this week at Green Energy Futures.

54. The amazing earth tube cools office tower

Earth tubes are a simple, passive geothermal system that takes advantage of the earth’s constant temperature below the frost line. By drawing fresh air for your building through an earth tube you pre-heat or pre-cool your air depending on your needs. This saves you a ton of money, according to architect Tang Lee an earth tube system can save you up to half of your ventilation heating costs. At the Epcor Tower it saves the building $50,000 a year.

Ashley Lubyk next to a completed rocket stove. Notice the barrel and the large cob bench he is sitting on. That cob bench acts as a thermal battery, storing the heat after the fire is burned out.

47. Rocket stoves and the rocket mass heater

The rocket stove takes our fascination with fire and bends it 90 degrees. It’s a hyper efficient wood stove that uses far less wood to get a far more effective result.

Peter Amerongen led the construction of the first net-zero home in Edmonton, Alberta and continues to lead innovation by specializing in the construction of net-zero homes. Photo David Dodge,

41. Net-zero evolution: From the Star Trek Enterprise to utter simplicity

It took a 45-person team to build Edmonton’s first net-zero home. In six short years since then net-zero builders are constructing cheaper and radically simpler net-zero homes. We Peter Amerongen and Simon Knight, two net-zero pioneers.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Lawrence Grassi School, Canmore, Alberta

40. The grass really is greener at Lawrence Grassi middle school

Sometimes the Grassi really is greener. Lawrence Grassi that it is. It’s a middle school in the Albertan mountain town of Canmore and while not a showy building it’s 70 per cent more efficient than a comparable building and it was built on budget. Learn how they did it this week at Green Energy Futures.

T'Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes

38. T’sou-ke First Nation goes all in on energy conservation and solar

The T’Souke First Nation on Vancouver Island developed and implemented a plan that slashed 75 per cent of their energy use and installed solar PV to provide clean power. It turns out it’s a lot easier to go net-zero when you drastically cut your energy use.

Landmark Homes construction1

37. Landmark: How to make a more energy efficient home with robots

Landmark Homes builds super energy efficient homes in a factory. Not only is this process more energy efficient – it’s also about 10-12 tonnes of CO2 more efficient. The homes they’re building are understated energy efficiency lions.

35. Reimagine your office building – Servus did it!

When Servus Credit Union acquired an old Dell call centre and decided to turn it into their corporate headquarters it was a bit of a fixer-upper. It was a concrete tip-up building originally designed for the climes of Oklahoma 3,000 km south of Edmonton. Well, they decided to keep the building but go full-out on a creative renovation to make a better building.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

34. The Nest: The iPod of programmable thermostats

Most programmable thermostats are poorly designed and beset with confusing instructions and non-intuitive press-and-hold interfaces. Enter Tony Fadell, the chief designer behind the original iPod. He walked away from Apple in 2010 and started a company that makes the Nest, a sleek new entry in the programmable thermostat that’s taking the home energy efficiency world by storm.

The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver is striving to be a LEED Platinum building and to meet the Living Building Challenge certification, a standard met by only three other buildings in the world. Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

29. Canada’s greenest building

This four-story, 60,000 square feet structure is practically a living thing. It’s a $37-million laboratory that aims to achieve LEED Platinum status, but more than that, they’re also pursuing a Living Building Challenge certification. This certification is so hard to get, there are only three certified living buildings in the world.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

28. Sewer heat keep homes warm in Vancouver’s False Creek area

We head down into the sewer, not to hang out with Michelangelo and the rest of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but to explore a unique district heating scheme that’s over 2.7 million square feet in Vancouver. It’s called sewage heat recovery and it’s the only system of its kind in North America.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Willow harvesting at Ohaton Sewage Lagoon, Camrose County, Alberta

25. Waste to willows

Learn how a small rural Albertan county is treating it’s waste in a more environmentally responsible fashion and growing their own substitute for natural gas. They pump the effluent from a waste lagoon into a densely planted stand of willows. Willows like moist soil, grow fast and grow easily in our climate. That willow is then chopped down every three years and can be used for wood, heat or compost. In Camrose, they’re using it to heat their main county office.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Walmart-SMC Balzac Western Distribution Center

21. The unlikely Walmart sustainability story

When you think of Walmart do a plethora of contradictory thoughts and images come into your brain? Well get ready for it to get even more confusing because the world’s largest retailer and the 19th largest economy in the world have stepped up the plate with one of the best corporate sustainability plans in the world. It’s not just planning either, they’re executing it as well. We went to their Fresh Food Distribution Centre in Balzac to get the story.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Home Audit by CReturns, Edmonton, Alberta

18. The power of a home energy audit

When Ted Wolff decided to buy a 55-year-old bungalow in the west end of Edmonton he knew he wanted to renovate. He also knew that his home wasn’t necessarily the most energy efficient, that’s when he brought in C Returns and Godo Stoyke and they called for an energy audit. By getting an audit Wolff will be able to make the best decisions when it comes to allocating money and resources to make his home more energy efficient.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Pumpjack by River Cree Casino

16. Pumpjack powerplants

Canadian Control Works is a small Edmonton based company with a big idea. They’ve figured out how to create green electricity from the downswing of a pumpjack with a device called the Enersaver. We don’t give them much thought but each pump jack is moving 5-10 tons each time it goes up and down. By harvesting that energy oilfield operators save money and stabilize the grid around it.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

10. The renewable energy revolution in Ontario

The German style feed-in tariff that Ontario implemented in 2009 has made Ontario a North American leader in renewable energy. Learn how they did and why other provinces need to follow the lead of Ontario.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Interviews with Wayne Rogers of Luminessence Lighting at Matthew Rogers' home in Edmonton, Alberta

07. Green lighting 101

This week we speak to Wayne Rogers of Luminessence Lighting as we pit compact fluorescent bulbs against LEDs in the battle for efficient lighting. We also speak to Don Cherwonka of EWEL Electric Wholesalers about the amazing T8 bulb and how a lighting fixture can almost double the light with no extra watts! Bonus – we peak under the hood of one of the Phillips $10 million L-prize LED bulbs to find out how it works.

Medicine Hat’s smart energy revolution (pilot episode)

The award winning Hat Smart program in Medicine Hat, Alberta provides incentives and rebates for renewable energy and energy efficiency and has really captured the imagination of residents of this Southern Alberta City of 61,000 people. In this week’s episode Alderman Ted Clugston explains how success depends on a sexy program, a solar powered dentist shows his stuff and a home builder explains how building an EnerGuide 89 geothermal heated home is helping him build better, greener homes.