Greening with By Adam Frey

Sharing Sustainability

-Commit to a monthly energy bill amount that you could afford to pay in
the next few years (eg. your current average monthly energy bill). This
could include fuel for heating or gas for travel, water and electricity
costs. It may also account for variations in fuel prices, seasonal
demands and changes in your energy needs.

-You could: -stop here and keep paying the bills as they rise.
-‘green’ yourself to keep this bill at current levels.
-try to make changes to reduce the amount you pay.

-Pay your bill. If you have energy savings compared to the amount in
step A, these can be put into a separate green fund. As this fund
grows it can be used to invest in green initiatives.

-Use the green fund to invest in further green projects; from
efficient light bulbs and showerheads, to insulation, appliances and cars.
Better yet, set a goal to ‘Pay-It-Forward’ to someone else, who could
then start their very own energy savings green fund. For big goals,
cooperate with others who are also saving to fund geothermal, wind or
solar projects! Remember, there is no need for donations or income to
begin, since the ‘energy bill’ is the one you are already paying.
Green Saving

Like many things, starting small is important. I had made an effort to start
hang-drying and set aside the money I would have used on the dryer. Since I
rented an apartment with utilities included, there were only certain areas I
could focus on where conservation could produce savings.

I looked over my visa bills over the past two years to get a sense of where I
was spending, especially on things that emit carbon (primarily my vehicle and
utilities). Things started to accelerate when I discovered that I had cut my
vehicle fuel use in half when I moved closer to work. Grateful from these
savings, I thought I could keep this going by spending what I saved on further
conservation and efficiency. I continued to cut down on my car use and for
both March and May 2012 I did not fuel up once.

My baseline for gasoline expense was $120/mo, so by biking once a week on
certain trips I was able to gather my first $100 in savings. I realized at that
point that I could pay for a car share membership from my savings and
propably pay for renting from the car share just from my gasoline savings. I
paid for VRTUCar and after a month of having both a car and VRTUCar I sold
my SUV!

Now I was starting to collect around $300/mo in savings and wasn’t sure what
I was going to do with it all. Between November, 2010 and March, 2014, I
saved over $14,800!

Method of Savings Amount saved since Nov. 2010
Reduced Use of Car Fuel $3,677.62
Hang Drying Clothes $191.75
Electricity use efficiency $31.91
Car-sharing (not fuel related)
Solar Co-op Dividend
Total $14,815.64
Green Spending

2.5 years of car sharing saved me $10,700 compared to my previous ownership
costs of depreciation, maintenance, insurance, parking, etc. At the time of
selling my vehicle, my first big investment was on myself, to do solar and
geothermal courses with the goal of entering the green-collar workforce.

I wanted to use my green bank to pay for the premium for green things or to
buy things that would lead to more savings. My LED lights, showerhead, bike
equipment and balcony garden are all thanks to this green bank. VRTUCar has
an electric car, so I am thinking of paying for its use from the green bank as
well. I have also purchased Bullfrog Power (soon gas too!) as well as carbon
offsets for my travel emissions.

Eventually I knew that for this to grow, I would need to work with others to
accomplish larger goals. As a renter I could not own my own solar, so I joined
a solar investment coop (Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op), where my dividend
can pay into my savings as well. I decided to use 80% of my green bank to
contribute to developing my own energy savings and 20% will go to paying it
forward to help others save energy as well.
*Courses were by the Canadian GeoExchange Coalition, the Ontario Solar Academy and HRAI.
80% For Myself ($11,852.51) 20% For Others ($2,963.13)
Item Cost ($) Item Cost ($)
Lightbulbs (13 CFL, 3 dimmable LED) 96.14 Lightbulbs (30 CFL, 7 dim.LED) 245.96
Low Flow Showerhead 22.59 Low Flow Showerhead 22.59
Balcony Garden 160.00 Ottawa Sustainability Fund
EV charger sponsorship
Bullfrog Power since May 2011 61.67
Vrtucar monthly and joining fees (31) 462.17 2 Low-Flow Showerheads,
Toilet Tank Saver, tap aerators
Window Insulation Shrink Film 28.80
2 Tap Aerators, Tire Plant Pot 33.50 Programmable Thermostat 31.63
Carbonzero Offsets (1.83 tons CO2)
for 2011/2 travel (plane, bus and car)
74.90 Hot Water Heater and Pipe
Insulation, draft proof door

Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op
Preference share (community solar)
5,100.00 Cold Water Detergent, battery
recharger, clothes drying rack.
Geothermal and Solar PV tuition* 4340.15 Window Insulation Shrink Film 30.49
Bike and Accessories 278.76 4.8 L Toilet with installation 398.89
Balance 1,353.83 730.29

20 %
What Next?
If I continue with this, I hope to cooperate with others to coordinate a
Pay-It-Forward collective. I have found my energy savings are limited since
I had low initial energy use and my heating and water bills are included in my
rent, so to have a larger impact I will need to collaborate with others. To
some extent I have already done this by donating some of my savings to the
Ottawa Sustainability Fund, who then provide grants for charitable
organizations to green themselves and in turn save money on their energy

A major challenge to renewable energy like geothermal,
solar and wind is start-up costs. While these have
considerable energy savings (even profits), the initial
investment is intimidating. For low-income
families they are impossible. While some loans
are available, bankruptcy is a threat to companies
and customers when loans pile up. This
pay-it-forward program is built with money
that would have otherwise gone to carbon fuel,
and operates without debt or interest payments.

Because I knew that renewable energy does pay off with savings, I started
with smaller things that pay for themselves quickly to build towards larger
projects. All together these act as a catalyst for much needed action.

I have started to help pay for public electric vehicle charging stations
through SunCountry and the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa. My goal is to
provide geothermal heating to a low-income family as electric vehicles and
geothermal heating will together reduce emissions in Ontario significantly,
while creating savings.