March 1, 2014
Here’s good news! On February 8, our Members officially voted for PCT to become the non-profit Heartwood Folk School for Sustainability & Resilience. We invite everyone to our first classes under our new name – a Knitting & Wool Learning Day on March 22, 2014.
You can see our home page for upcoming classes in various subject areas. You can also have a peek at our new Heartwood symbol, created by Everest Lapp!
January 2, 2013
Subsequent to our Energy Action Day summary, here’s a note with some tips about ductless split heat pumps (that mount on the wall, to heat one area of your house, if you don’t have forced air heating for a larger, full-house heat pump). In 2012, a non-profit group on Gabriola Island became a dealer for these heat pumps, to get them at wholesale prices for Gabriolans, and then cooperatively help each other install them. Here is a December, 2012 note from one of them:
“Lately we’ve come under criticism from dealers in Nanaimo, who typically mark the heat pumps up 100%, and one or two are trying to get Fujitsu to stop selling to us. That plus there being a lot of things to watch and details to keep track of during the installation process have led us to conclude we’re not at this time able to expand our wholesale purchase operation beyond Gabriola [i.e. to other islands, as some Penderites were requesting]..
What you might try doing is explaining to your dealer that you can’t afford the quoted price and ask if he’d be amenable to reducing markup on the unit and sharpening his pencil on the installation cost. Assuming he’s quoted you on the Fujitsu 12RLS2 – the one we’ve found after extensive research to be best and are bringing onto Gabriola – he’s got a lot of room to manoeuvre. For your information, someone who buys through us pays $1700 for the unit (wholesale price + tax + shipping) and maybe another $1000 (depending on complexity) for installation by a local contractor; ie – total cost around $2700. Some people who are handy are installing them themselves, hiring someone with a refrigeration ticket to do the final hookup, and that brings the cost down to about $2000. [Note: compare this to a recent professional ductless heat pump quote over $5,000 for a Penderite, including installation].
Something else you should know if you don’t already is that heat pumps usually qualify for a BC government rebate provided you register with the program, have an energy audit done on your home, and the auditor confirms a heat pump will be a worthwhile investment (which is usually the case). For info call City Green at 1.866.381.9995 or visit www.citygreen.ca. Sorry we can’t sell you a unit, hope this helps, and please let me know if I can help you with anything more.”
November 27, 2012
Here’s an additional tip from John McQuaid of www.waterwindsolar.com, who spoke at the November 17, 2012 Pender Energy Action Day (see November 19 post). McQuaid installs both rainwater catchment and renewable energy technologies. The Regional District of Nanaimo has a useful Rainwater Harvesting Best Practices Guidebook for homeowners, available here: http://www.rdn.bc.ca/cms/wpattachments/wpID2430atID5059.pdf. Let’s make good use of our winter rains, and also have good water during power failures when the pumps are out!
November 19, 2012
Here are some inspiring stories & links for action, from Pender’s second annual, November 17, 2012 Energy Action Day. The best one is a story in a picture…
November 15, 2012
Latest news: Laurie of Recycling’s RE-CYCLE SHOP will kindly be offering some bike tune-ups at this Saturday’s ENERGY ACTION DAY (November 17, 2012, 10 am to 3 pm, School Gym). Then there’s what you might affectionately call the interested “groups and geeks” energy conversation (all welcome to share or just listen in), from 10:30 to 11:30 am.
The new speaker on solar energy and available home refit grants is J. SCOTT (not J. Smith – see www.illuminatesolar.ca). We are grateful also to have expert speakers Doug Green (www.advancedhomeenergy.ca) and John McQuaid (www.waterwindsolar.com).
The wonderful Kikuchi’s will be offering food and drink. There are a variety of displays being gathered for your energy edification, including an electric car display outside the school, and now some info inside about living off-grid on Pender. Some kids are also working hard on constructing a bike generator (a work in progress), and in the kid area, there will be a series of energy question stations for the young and old to play through. See our poster and www.pendercommunitytransition.ca for more. This Saturday is a free, fun, and informative community event. Come learn and share about creating a brighter energy future, together!
October 10, 2012
Here’s what’s next for PCT on energy!
* ENERGY ACTION DAY (new date: Saturday, November 17, 2012, 10 am to 3 pm, School Gym): Pender’s second annual Energy Action Day is coming up in a few weeks. This is a free community event for anyone who wants to learn or share energy information, including all ages and levels of experience – especially our kids! This Energy Action Day will include fun and informative displays, a kid area, expert and inspiring speakers, cool energy videos, and lively networking and cooperative discussions (see poster for more). It’s all about energy conservation, i.e. many ways to use and need less energy, and energy transition, i.e. shifting to low-carbon, renewable, resilient energy sources where possible. Come out to hear from off-island and on-island experts, and contact Zorah at 629-3825 or email@example.com if you have some energy knowledge or a display to share. Let’s teach and inspire each other! You can also see the energy references at www.pendercommunitytransition.ca/energy-references-tips-and-skills for more.
August 27, 2012
At the August inter-island gathering (see Aug 17 general post), the Gabriola energy group told us how they saved up to $3,000/unit on air source heat pumps, by becoming a non-profit “dealer” for a good system and then cooperatively helping each other install it. Now here’s a related newflash about solar water heating systems. I’ve just been emailed by the Victoria supplier who offered our island a bulk-buying discount last year, and who’s designed a simpler, flow-through, solar water heating system for seasonal use, at about half the cost of other systems. Without the rebate regulations, a do-it-yourself install could be more feasible, and there are even some Penderites who’ve expressed interest in helping each other figure this out. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and express interest in cooperating on either solar water heating or air source heat pumps.
Now moving to the key issue of local food growing, we’re following up with our Community Seed Bank initiative. We already know of 15 people keen to help, but we need to learn more and organize. Therefore, PCT is arranging a free Skill-Building Workshop on Seed Saving & Seed Banks, on Saturday, September 29 (noon to 4:00 pm, upper Community Hall). One workshop leader will be either Dan Jason of Saltspring Seeds or his second-in-command Rupert Adams, but I’m aware that Pender food groups and growers know a lot about seed saving as well! There are useful models from Dan Jason and others for us all to cooperate on creating a Pender Community Seed Bank, so come out on September 29 to take another step towards this. People with no seed saving experience are also really welcome. See www.pendercommunitytransition.ca/pender-community-seed-bank for more info.
Going back to energy, PCT plans to have a second Energy Action Day on Saturday, November 24 (School Gym). This is another day of fun and informative displays, expert and inspiring speakers, cool videos, and lively networking (including our kids!). It’s about energy conservation (i.e. many ways to need less energy), and energy transition (i.e. shifting to low-carbon, renewable, sustainable sources). We’re still waiting to hear about some grant applications, but we really hope a School Solar Photovoltaic Demo Project will be involved. The above are only some of the PCT initiatives planned for the coming year. Stay tuned!
November 20, 2011
(windmill drawing by Sitka, photo by Joanne Green)
So there was a power failure, setting up a dark gym with headlamps, multiple competing events, and finally an evacuation! Despite all this, Pender’s first ENERGY ACTION DAY on November 12, 2011 (see poster) was very well-attended and went amazingly well. About 150 Pender adults and kids came through, and I’m sure the Kikuchi family’s deliciously-sustainable food was part of why a bunch of them stuck around for a while.
After guest speakers about do-it-yourself energy conservation projects, home energy evaluations, and solar water heating options, Guy Dauncey blew our minds with compelling roadmaps to a more sustainable and resilient future. Just as Guy had completed the main part of his talk and showed how we need to “sound the alarm” and change how we live, the fire alarm did in fact go off, so the conversation had to continue outside in the rain. This was while the fire trucks rolled up and eventually verified a sprinkler electricity malfunction. Now Guy Dauncey has suggested using Skype for additional ideas specifically about our island, so stay tuned for when Pender Community Transition might arrange this.
November 17, 2011
Pender’s first Energy Action Day on November 12 was very well-attended and went amazingly! [see poster and summary for more]. Now as a follow-up, we’ve scheduled a Solar Water Heating Information Meeting for Tuesday, November 22, 2011 (see minutes).
Anyone is welcome to come receive and share info, including the 16 homeowners considering installations by Certified Installer James Smyth (before the March 31, 2012 rebate deadline), and those who are exploring various other options (such as do-it-yourself). I have not yet received the additional price info from James Smyth, but will forward it when I do (to the group of 16 and others who ask me). Also, some new Thermomax vacuum tube info has now been added to the Solar Water Heating references at www.pendercommunitytransition.ca/energy-references-tips-and-skills
October 15, 2011
Greetings! The informative and fun speakers, displays, and videos for Pender’s upcoming ENERGY ACTION DAY are beginning to come together nicely (see poster), but we’d still love to hear about whatever you or your Pender group might also have to share. This is a free, all-ages, all-community event, on Saturday, November 12, 2011 (10 am to 3 pm, Pender School Gym, now with a KID AREA). The day is about ENERGY CONSERVATION (i.e living well while using less fossil fuels), and also ENERGY TRANSITION (i.e. shifting to low-carbon, renewable, and perpetual energy sources, where we can).
And guess who’s coming to visit us on November 12…. it’s GUY DAUNCEY – a paradigm-shifting writer, speaker, and energy expert from the BC Sustainable Energy Association. Guy will be giving a special story-telling presentation and then joining us in further discussion about CREATING A SUSTAINABLE PENDER IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS (see more info). This greatly resonates with PCT and other local initiatives to create a MORE RESILIENT, SELF-SUFFICIENT, LOW-CARBON PENDER. The other 3 expert speakers for the ENERGY ACTION DAY will also share knowledge to help us get there.
August 22, 2011
As Pender Community Transition shifts back into fall action, here are some upcoming events!
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2011 (7:00 pm, Hall Lounge) – ENERGY GROUP MEETING: Anyone interested in energy conservation and low-carbon, renewable and perpetual energy sources on Pender is welcome to come out, to follow-up on our first Energy Group Meeting. We’re going to discuss our upcoming Solar Water Heating initiative (see attached) and other projects, plus any other energy ideas we have to help Pender homeowners, businesses, and our community. We’ll also be talking about how to create a useful and exciting Energy Action Day (see below).
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2011 (10:00 am to 3:00 pm, Pender School Gym) – ENERGY ACTION DAY: This event is being developed in cooperation with other groups and all interested Penderites (including younger ones at the school). We intend to include fun displays, practical demonstrations, expert speakers (such as the inspiring Guy Dauncey), plus lively conversations and networking! This is all about energy conservation (i.e. living well while using much less fossil fuels), and also energy transition (i.e. shifting to low-carbon, renewable and perpetual energy sources where we can). Please email email@example.com or call 250-629-3825 if you have any energy knowledge, displays, or skills to share. See also Energy References, Tips & Skills for energy actions you can take right now!
July 16, 2011
The Pender Community Transition Coordinator (and many PCT supporters!) are busy with summer food growing. However, here’s our 7 community transition projects for resumed action starting in September. These projects are on the key issues of energy and emissions, food growing, and economic relocalization.
We’re grateful to confirm project grants from the Islands Trust (our Local Trust Committees) and the Capital Regional District. Now we expect to hear the results of our Vancity funding application by late summer, as well another local possibility. PCT will be active regardless, so contact firstname.lastname@example.org if any of the proposed projects interest you. We are also an incorporated non-profity society, so feel free to send a donation our way!
Further on energy, here’s what the inspiring Transition Totnes in the UK (the first of 400 transition initiatives worldwide) is currently doing to create significant renewable energy projects, while they resolve conflicts and strengthen community from the ground up: Hard work + Vision= Kilowatts: A story about the Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC)
The Totnes energy solutions don’t necessarily fit for Pender, which is why we initiated a PCT Energy Research Project and the Pender Energy Group which will be resuming activity in the fall (see Energy References, Tips & Skills for more). We invite you to contact email@example.com if you have a particular interest in energy issues, and to have a great summer in the meantime. (more…)
April 1, 2011
Greetings! This is the category for community posts about Energy & Emissions. For a start, you could check out the May, 2011 Energy Group Minutes which were the first step to follow up on the PCT Energy Research Report (including alternative energy cost comparisons for homeowner and community projects). There’s also the Energy References, Tips & Skills relating to this research, and the Energy & Emissions Info/Planning Page which is about our whole community coming together to take useful action.
For more community dialogue, you’re invited to read the most recent technical comments (here) plus some earlier comments on low-carbon/renewable energy sources (see posts below), and to add to it yourself! You can do this by clicking the “Comments” below this post or any post, reading what might be there, and then scrolling down to add your own comment. You can also register to write posts for others to comment on, using the registration box in the lower right-hand menu. Feel free to email PCT with any questions about this, or with additional materials that you think are relevant to low-carbon and renewable energy options for Pender. Come join the community conversation!
Email from Niall Parker (in response to PCT Energy Research Questions from Zorah Staar):
Question 1: If a Pender homeowner with average Pender sun and wind had about $5,000 to spend on energy projects, what should they spend it on? My tentative answer [from Zorah Staar]: ½ on energy conservation (e.g. better insulation), and ½ on a do-it-yourself solar water heating system, like the ones described at sites like this: Build it Solar: Solar Water Heating (Basics/Do-It-Yourself).
Response from Niall: Those are good ideas, if it hasn’t already been done I’d recommend a home energy assessment (~$300) before anything else, as well as power meters and a review of hydro bills. Solar thermal gives good bang for buck but many houses on Pender aren’t very well suited (then again even a simple boost can drop the electricity requirements a lot, electric hot water is probably our biggest power draw). Also an emergency lighting system (LEDs, battery and moderate (80-100W) PV panel) would make a big difference if power cuts are common (not quite the ambience of candles but safer and no fossil fuels)
Question 2: If a Pender homeowner with average Pender sun and wind had about $25,000 to spend on energy projects, what should they spend it on? My tentative answer: 1/2 on energy conservation (multiple projects, after an assessment); 1/4 or less on a solar hot water heating system; and the remainder ¼ or more on a solar photovoltaic system to power a DC freezer, some lights, and/or a new DC well pump? Or should they forget photovoltaic-driven pumps or freezers, and instead install rainwater catchment and a gravity-feed cistern (plus learn to can and dry food), and/or buy an electric scooter or some hybrid electric/pedal bicycles with any money left?
Some form of alternative transportation fits here (or above, depends on whether a (e)bike is suitable. How much conservation can be achieved should be evaluated before spending a lot more on it. As above, metering is a useful diagnostic and educational tool, behaviours about shower lengths, using lights, computers, TV’s etc can have a big impact for some households, while others may find they are already at a pretty low baseline. PV powered fridges are a good idea and help maintain our current lifestyle, though as you point out, greater economies can be found by ditching fridges/freezers completely. Canning by itself can chew up electrical power, likewise for food drying (if electrical driers are used). Metering a batch is educational (our dryer takes ~$1 per load) but timing the process can make use of waste heat.
From Julie Johnston: Without having read everything yet [from the Pender energy research project], I’d like to say one thing: The Burning Age is over. No more fuel-based energy. No more burning. Burning = carbon in almost every case, and we can’t afford to be less bad by emitting less carbon.
As we read through the research that’s been done, let’s keep in mind that we have to get to zero-carbon energy as rapidly as possible. Let’s not go down any middle roads … let’s go straight to zero carbon right away. (BTW, the Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones. And so the Burning Age must end long before we’ve run out of fuels to burn.)
From David Rippner (in response to 3 PCT questions about Pender energy priorities):
Your ideas about conservation and solar thermal are probably the best way. Because of a combination of high latitude, low hydro energy prices and the lack of any solar incentives, photovoltaics (“PV”, in the industry) aren’t a wise choice for us here, sexy as it may be. The best bang for the buck, assuming a structure is adequately insulated and wind-proofed, is solar thermal. With the BC Solar Initiative, there is a great opportunity to pay for a domestic hot water system in 7 – 10 years, depending upon location and size of system. Payback period is the most often-used metric lately, for domestic and commercial installations.
[Note: PCT has just learned that the SolarBC residential initiative now appears to have ended. However, there are other options for Penderites to save money and shorten payback period on solar thermal/water heating systems - see Solar Thermal Bulk Buying and Do-it-yourself Solar Water Heating Systems for two examples. On the other hand, as for solar photovoltaic, see more from David Rippner below...]
Off-grid solar [photovoltaic] energy systems are costly solutions that may never actually pay for themselves, but if the grid is too far away, the user is on a boat or mobile home, it may be the ONLY solution. Consider that the hourly cost of off-grid electrical energy may be in the realm of 30 – 35 cents KWH, and that is after the system is paid for. Battery storage costs are calculable and necessitate replacements with the most attentive & careful usage. The longest I’ve seen a domestic deep cycle battery system last is 12 years; first-year users are often obliged to replace their first set of batteries the following year, and more common usage is 3 – 5 years.
I’m speaking with 30 years of off-grid experience and over 25 years selling, assembling and using on-grid solar PV. Dedicated systems (you mention powering a freezer, for example) aren’t practical unless they power (for example) an on-demand pump with a cistern: when the sun produces energy, water is pumped. For domestic usage, some sort of storage is necessary – the power grid or batteries.
From Peter Carter: Hi Zorah, you have come a long way, this is great. First doing any project on energy together is great because it builds community. Having said that my perspective and proposals will not fit with the general view.
Soon this civilization will collapse. Post peak oil and catastrophic levels of atmospheric GHGs make that certain. Canada will be better than most regions but certainly affected. Our dependency on US and Latin American food is dangerous as those regions will be hit badly by climate change. All communities will become isolated in terms of what we are used to. Long distance centrally produced power supplies and food supplies will not be reliable. So the first essential is community building- and that means developing physical projects together. And our local energy must be linked to local food production.
Also, any region that has a good site for wind must install whatever can be afforded- a local build is best for community building. As an island our best potential is the sea around us. We need to look into wave and tidal. Obviously there is lots of power around us there. Again local development is best.
There is no survival other than a zero carbon future. The science is definite. Therefore (fossil fuel) energy conservation and efficiency is good to do, but does not help our future security.
From Julie Johnston: Below is the comment I posted on The Grist today about this press release (“Global Solar Transition Achievable in 20 Years”, link below). I can’t quite tell, though, if they’ve actually figured out *how much* fossil fuel we’ll have to burn to create the infrastructure to get us to 100% perpetual energy — so that we can figure out if we can afford that much new carbon, climate change-wise. In other words, if people are given the chance to choose between efficiency now or complete and utter civilization collapse, chaos and starvation later (one of these authors says by 2018), maybe — just maybe — they will choose greater efficiency measures now. Maybe. Here’s the link to the report’s press release:
Here’s a very telling quote from the report [further info below]:
“Optimally, this transition [the Global Transition to Solar Energy] should be combined with an aggressive policy of energy conservation”, said co-author Professor Peter Schwartzman of Knox College. “In the United States, for instance, conservation could reduce oil consumption by more than half by 2025, and for industrial countries overall by up to 35 per cent – while improving the quality of life. But we have to act immediately. If we wait a few decades, we could permanently lose our chance to get this transition off the ground.”
Scottish Carbon Initiative (about recycling to further decrease carbon emissions): The new “carbon metric” will prioritise materials with a high carbon impact such as plastics and textiles, which currently have relatively low levels of recycling in Scotland.
It will also highlight the relative merits of different waste management options, and will support the aspiration for greater ‘closed loop’ recycling markets, for example, by giving higher weighting to glass which is recycled back into glass rather than that which is used for aggregates or insulation materials.
A Focus On What’s Important To Recycle
At the same time, local governments will be focusing less on materials that aren’t as important to recycle in terms of carbon saved, like paper.