Croak if you love alternative energy (Day 335)…

January 29, 2008


Ever since Bullfrog Power landed in Toronto, I’ve been DYING to sign up. Living in a condo with standard monthly fees and shared energy bills meant it wasn’t an option, but as soon as I signed the deal on the house, I was like a kid sitting in front of my Christmas presents, waiting for mom and dad to wake up already so I could start tearing into them. All I could think about for weeks was the day I’d finally be able to pick up the phone, call Hydro to set up my account and then log onto so they could start putting some more wind turbines to good use.

That day, my friends, was today.

What I love about Bullfrog is that it’s not just about offsetting. As they explain here, users continue to draw power from the Ontario grid, but Bullfrog then injects that same amount of energy — in the form of wind power and low-impact water power — back into the system to compensate.

All of their generation facilities have met the environmental criteria of Environment Canada’s EcoLogo certification process, and they publish their green power audit on an annual basis so you can check up on them.

From what I’ve heard, most Bullfrog users don’t end up paying more than $5 or $10 extra per month for this service — but maybe my parents could chip in here, seeing as I made them switch over months ago!

A call to green malls (Day 320)…

January 14, 2008

eaton centre

I was at a dinner not so long ago where, not surprisingly, the conversation turned to the environment. It’s sort of funny: whenever I let slip that I’m doing this challenge, inevitably the person I’m speaking to feels compelled to list off all the green things he or she is doing, which in turn means I’m supposed to nod approvingly and maybe give them a gold star (OK, kidding — but really, it’s kind of a conversation stopper, unless they also happen to be living without a fridge).

Anyway, back to dinner: I was all prepared for this woman to start telling me about how she recycles everything and this one time she picked up some litter she found on the street and she always turns the thermostat down at night or whatever, but she surprised me. Turns out, she’s in the business of green malls, working for a firm called Ivanhoe Cambridge, which owns a lot of the shopping centres here in Ontario and is apparently quite the leader when it comes to all things eco.

She explained to me how they’re in the process of switching the light bulbs in all their buildings to compact fluorescents and how they purchased more than 11,000 megawatt hours of energy from Bullfrog Power, which will reduce CO2 emissions by about 8,000 tonnes. They’re also pretty forward thinking when it comes to enforcing recycling and tracking energy usage.

The only crappy thing is, Ivanhoe Cambridge’s one Toronto mall is Dixie Outlet, which is pretty damn far away in the ‘burbs — it would mean driving rather than cycling to, say, the Eaton Centre (also, upon reflection, the Eaton Centre does have a lot of natural light, so perhaps it doesn’t suck as much electricity as one might assume).

Either way, the conversation reminded me about how every single decision we make can affect the environment, so we shouldn’t just be thinking about the stores we go to, but the malls those stores are in. From now on, then, if I do need to go to a shopping mall, I’m going to make sure it’s one that cares about both its shoe stores and its carbon footprint.

Photo of the Eaton Centre (the Canadian geese aren’t real, by the way, they’re part of a sculpture) courtesy of Kurtis Billard on Flickr