What grants are available to make my home or business more energy efficient? What’s new in home insulation? Would it make sense to use solar power to heat water at my house? What are the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling systems?
These were some of the questions swirling around in Jo-Ann Guerrero’s mind last year as she attended the Green Living and Technology Fair for the first time. If you’re like many people, you know that ‘going green’ in your home and office has a number of advantages, but you aren’t quite sure just how to do that.
Many people are interested in green alternatives to reduce their carbon footprint, but figuring out what’s available can be daunting, said Joy Finney of Woolwich Healthy Communities, which organizes the event as part of Healthy Communities Month.
“Part of the challenge is just doing the research and finding the local contractors,” said Finney.
Now Guerrero is on the other side of the fence as a member of the event’s planning committee, after spending the year ‘experimenting’ and being green.
“I started out by making small changes,” explained Guerrero. “I picked plastics as my project. I am really careful about what I buy and I am conscious of what I throw in the garbage. As a newcomer to the idea, I just did it in bits and pieces, then I would do a little bit more and see how far I could go.”
The fair will be held today (Saturday) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the St. Jacobs arena, 29 Parkside Dr. This year, more than 40 businesses and organizations will be involved in the fair. These groups will be providing environmentally friendly services and products such as green energy systems, home and business energy audits, the latest in ‘green’ car technology, car-sharing, water conservation and pesticide alternatives. Almost half of the vendors are new this year to the fair, so the event will be fresh even for those who have attended in previous years.
“There are an amazing amount of possibilities in our region alone – things I never would have thought to do before I visited the fair,” said Guerrero.
As well as information booths and presentations, the technology fair is the starting point for the Alternative Energy Tours, where visitors can ride a shuttle bus and get the chance to see solar and geothermal energy at work and to visit a straw-bale home in Woolwich. Visitors on the tour will be able to talk to the homeowners and installers about the cost, savings and how well the technology works. Free shuttle buses leave from the arena about every half hour from 1 to 4 p.m. People can visit all the homes, or just some.
If you are hoping to check out the Residential Energy Efficiency Project (REEP) 90% energy efficient demonstration century home, be sure to get there early. This tour is available by shuttle bus only, departing at 12, 1, and 2 p.m. This Kitchener home recently won the Home Sweet Home Founding Home Award in recognition for its outstanding level of sustainability featuring super-insulation, R-7 windows, solar panels, geo-thermal technology and much more.
Additionally at the fair, residents can drop off their residential e-waste – including items such as computers, CD-ROMs, CD/DVD players, cell phones and pagers – free of charge courtesy of Greentec. At last year’s fair, the group collected more than 28,000 pounds of electronic waste to be recycled.
“My visit to the fair was exciting. It was hopeful,” said Guererro. “I felt like I could do something myself to contribute. It just feels right.”