Ann and Gord Baird are helping six Canadian families reduce their energy consumption through the Energy Diet Challenge.

Losing inches on a carbon waistline

Highlands eco-gurus advise on national home energy contest

Highlands eco-gurus advise on national home energy contest

Highlands environmentalists Gord and Ann Baird are going to help six families go on a diet — the Energy Diet Challenge.

Homeowners across Canada entered the challenge through Canadian Geographic and Shell Canada. They are seeking ways to shrink their household carbon footprints from September until December, and hopefully beyond.

The Bairds, who built an ultra-energy efficient home on their property in Highlands, will mentor the families.

Although the Bairds have been hired on as consultants, initially they wanted to be contestants. The prize, a hybrid car, seemed a good fit.

After interviews with Canadian Geographic and Shell Canada, it became apparent there wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

“It became clear that we were over qualified,” Ann said. “It wouldn’t be fair for the other families.”

The families selected for the competition are from Nanimo, Northwest Territories, Alberta, Ontario and two families from Quebec. The contest began on Sept. 12 and ends Dec. 8.

The contestants will have their home, water and transportation energy footprint measured. The Bairds will advise families on lifestyle choices and technologies to reduce energy consumption.

The Bairds travelled to Banff to meet the families last month, driving and camping along the way. Other families flew to Alberta, except the family from Calgary. Shell paid for carbon offsets.

At home in Highlands, the Bairds’ unique cob house features composting toilets, solar hot water and solar electric systems, rain water collection and LED  lights.

“The house is the eye-candy for the message,” Ann said. “The real message is smarten up,” Gord added.

An interesting twist to the contest is the contestants don’t really compete against each other. “They compete against themselves,” Gord said.

The families record their energy consumption prior to starting the contest and compare after the cut off.

While lowering their energy usage is the main idea, the families will also blog about their experiences. “Part of it is the interest they gain while telling their story,” Gord said.

Each blog posted by the families will be read by the Bairds, who will comment on the entries and offer suggestions.

“People don’t learn from being told things, but they do learn from telling stories,” Ann said.

The winning family will be determined by online votes, energy consumption, quality and quantity of blog posts and creativity of lifestyle changes.

While sitting in their home, Gord and Ann explain changes people can make to reduce energy usage, such as switching to solar heated water or installing low flush toilets.

Gord said that other ways to conserve energy is to be organized in terms of using a vehicle and not wasting gas.

“You don’t have a chance if you can’t organize for the following day,” Gord said explaining it’s best to plan driving routes for errands.

Of the competing six families, five have children. From experience, the Bairds know that many parents often drive kids to and from school, as well as after-school activities.

“It took me four years (of parenting) to say, ‘No you can’t do that activity,’” Gord said. “There is intense social pressure for kids to take lessons and to go to birthday parties. You are not going to hurt your kids by (staying home) and harvesting potatoes.”

Even with the numerous changes the Bairds have made in their lives, they are now just starting to use public transit. They drive from their rural home to a park-and-ride and bus from there.

“The kids like the bus because their dad can’t rant to them on the bus (how he does in the car),” Ann joked.

Bairds encourage everyone to sign up on the contest website to track their energy consumption. “You can learn right along with the other families,” Gord said.

For more information go to energydiet.canadiangeographic.ca. The Bairds and the contest are featured in this month’s Canadian Geographic magazine.

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 demolishes new construction in Greater Victoria

Value of new building permits in Greater Victoria drop more than 37 per cent

Greater Victoria tourism industry ‘can’t wait any longer’ for financial aid

Saanich mayor, business owners call on provincial, federal governments for tourism-specific aid

Group desperate to find solution to wrecks lining shores of Cadboro Bay

Caddy Bay ‘a wild west’ without authority, say locals

No architect for Langford building ruled ‘unreasonable’ by B.C. Supreme Court

Legal action brought against City in 2019 for permit issued on Hoffman Avenue building

Colwood drive-thru window smashed after suspect receives burger without mustard

Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

Gold River ready to welcome visitors and restart local businesses

In contrast to single-industry remote communities, Gold River’s diversified economy might help it better survive after reopening

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Search and rescue crews help locate 62-year-old Nanoose Bay mountain biker

RCMP: Man got lost on trail and did right thing by calling for assistance

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

Most Read