By Emily Rendell-Watson
This year, Earth Hour will be a time for Halifax residents to reflect on the approximately $1.7 billion that is spent each year on energy within the Halifax Regional Municipality.
The municipality has released this number as a part of their review of the Community Energy Plan. The $1.7 billion is comprised of six energy sources: gasoline, propane, electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and diesel. Electricity is the primary energy source listed, using 32 per cent of the available energy.
In an effort to lower energy usage, the municipality has decided to revise the original Community Energy Plan that was released in 2007. The plan will determine key community objectives for sustainable energy use and production in the Halifax Regional Municipality. It will also outline the actions necessary to promote energy efficiency for the next five years.
Richard MacLellan, manager of energy and environment for the Halifax Regional Municipality, says that it’s about seeing the opportunities available to save energy.
“It’s all about energy efficiency and the continuous adoption of renewables,” says MacLellan. Most of the energy used comes from foreign oil or coal. Both leave a large impact on the environment.
MacLellan says that it will take many individual actions to achieve the larger goal of sustainable energy usage and conservation.
This year, Earth Hour will take place on Saturday between 8:30 p.m.- 9:30 p.m. Millions of people across the world will turn off their lights and energy sources to mark a commitment to energy conservation.
As Halifax residents prepare for Earth Hour, they have several suggestions on how the Halifax Regional Municipality can reduce energy usage.
Taylor Quinn says that it is about building up infrastructure and sharing resources.
“I think it’s really important not only to look at reactive solutions to conserve energy, but to be proactive. When it comes to infrastructure, when it comes to building new roads, (the municipality) needs to create space that can be shared by pedestrians, cyclists, cars and buses,” says Quinn.
Quinn says he is looking forward to spending Earth Hour looking at the stars and sharing information on social media.
“Earth Hour in my opinion is not so much about saving energy for an hour, but getting people to think about energy conservation,” says Quinn.
Diana Ginn thinks that energy conservation should be about the municipality reviewing its own use of energy within municipal offices and endeavours as well as offering financial assistance to those hoping to make their homes more energy efficient.
“I live in an old home, and I think there is a lot of energy (wasted). Making plans available for people who want to make their homes more energy efficient, and offering financial assistance for this would help,” says Ginn.
Ginn also suggests that the municipality could offer discounts from services for people reducing energy usage in their homes.
Many residents have also shared their ideas online.
The suggestions regarding energy usage have included installing solar panels, converting city vehicles to use renewable energy and implementing alternate transportation projects, such as cycling.
The Halifax Regional Municipality has also planned public engagement sessions as a part of the review. Staff will be at the Alderney Landing farmers’ market on April 12 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to collect feedback.
The municipality will continue to seek input online for the review of the energy plan, with the hope that the updated plan will eventually go to Halifax regional council for approval.