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June 2013 Update: The 2009 Winner of a 500 Watt Hummer Wind Turbine from Evolve Green



Oak Lake Community School was the 2009 winner of a 500 Watt Hummer Wind Turbine from Evolve Green's annual contest. Shown above is a picture recently taken of the wind turbine mounted next to their school, which is located just north of Winnipeg in Manitoba.

This contest was formerly an annual event offered by Evolve Green to help our local schools acquire alternative energy products for educational purposes for their schools.


Sustainable Education At Landmark Elementary

NOTE: EVOLVE GREEN is a proud sponsor of this project!

Source: Steinbach Online


Two years ago curriculum support teacher Russ Dirks had an idea to open a greenhouse at Landmark Elementary. Since then he has implemented sustainable strategies throughout Hanover School Division like a compost program and a waste reduction goal of 50% for the entire division. After the excitement of the ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday Dirks is still looking to grow inside and outside of the greenhouse.

"Well one of the things is that we want to grow lettuce and we want to do that in the fall because that's a good one to grow in the fall. We want to have that as a part of a celebration and begin to see that growing our own food, it isn't just a part of math, science or social studies it really is part of all those subjects. We are thinking about ways we work together and ways we work together to be healthier and take care of our earth. Then we also want to use this greenhouse as kind of a living lab. Even if there isn't the weather to grow things we also want to use it as an outdoor classroom. It's a place where we can do measuring, check out water temperatures with our solar heater system, all kinds of scientific inquiry can happen in the greenhouse even if there aren't plants in there".

Education Minister the Honourable Nancy Allan cut the green ribbon with garden sheers as an assembly of students cheered. She says she is happy to see how excited the students at Landmark Elementary are about sustainable development education. The Education Minister says the learning in this greenhouse will go beyond the school and into the community.

"It's so exciting to see this project. This is an incredible project. It's education for sustainable development. It's about reducing waste and taking care of our planet. It's so exciting that this has a community component as well because the students in this school are going to be learning in the greenhouse as well as growing vegetables for a food bank. So this is just a pretty amazing project, it's so phenomenal actually that I believe it's going to be a model for the other schools in Hanover School Division and for other schools in our province".

Dirks proudly says that the greenhouse is powered by the sun. The greenhouse uses a solar heater that was partly built by the students of LES and a solar panel for electricity. Grade six student Farai Chamarenchah says they first started by collecting pop cans. After cutting holes and gluing them together with aluminum glue they painted them black to absorb more heat. She explains that a fan then pushes air through these cans creating a "little tornado" like air stream which is then blown into the greenhouse creating the tropic like atmosphere. Chamarenchah says that the greenhouse has already taught her many things.

"I think it was a fantastic idea. We get to learn and grow in different ways. It shows our whole school that we need to be careful of what we do and take care of our Earth. There are so many things that we didn't know until we started this".

The greenhouse project was made possible because of support from community partners, the provincial government and Hanover School Division. Dirks says he would like to see "the circle not stop with us". Noting that one of their goals from the beginning has been to raise funds through their greenhouse celebrations in order to promote greenhouse education in third world countries. Dirks says although this is the end of one goal it is really just the beginning.



University College of the North Solar Heating System










Here are some pictures of the installed solar heating equipment purchased from Evolve Green at UCN

(University College of the North).


Alberta’s bold plan to cut emissions stuns Ottawa and oil industry

Source: The Globe and Mail




Study Shows Energy-Efficient Homes Are 32% Less Risky for Lenders

Many have argued that energy efficiency reduces the risk of mortgage default. Now they have the data to prove it.

Source: Green Tech Media


When Mike Baldwin built a home for his client in Maryland that was 40 percent more efficient than an average single-family residence, he figured it would command a better price in the market. He was wrong.

An appraiser valued it for $5,000 less than it was built for, saying it was "overbuilt" compared other homes in the area. So thousands of dollars came directly out of Baldwin's pocket.

"Builders aren't going to leap into this market unless energy-efficient homes are appraised differently," said Baldwin, who is president of Baldwin homes.

The problem is far bigger than the one appraiser who didn't value Baldwin's energy-efficient home. It's a systematic issue that goes back to what's valued within a mortgage itself. Even though efficiency retrofits reduce energy bills -- which can account for 15 percent of the cost of home ownership -- the lending industry doesn't factor them into a loan.

That's because the data on whether energy efficient homes truly reduce risk hasn't been clear -- until now. 

"We found that Energy Star certification reduces default and payment risk. The more efficient the house, the less the risk is for prepayment and default," said Nikhil Kaza, a researcher at the University of North Carolina's Center for Community Capital.  

Kazah was referring to an empirical study released yesterday by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) comparing Energy Star-certified homes to standard homes. Energy Star is a federal standard for houses that are 30 percent more efficient than average homes. Kazah and his colleagues reviewed nearly 30,000 single-family Energy Star residences around the country and compared them to 71,000 conventional homes. The study controlled for size, homeowner income, loan type, employment, and credit score, ensuring that the profile of each category was similar. 

They found that Energy Star homes were 32 percent less likely to go into default. And those findings, said Kaza, are at a 99.9 percent confidence level. 

"We've been talking about this for a while, but now we have the data to back it up," said Cliff Majersik, executive director of IMT. "It's time now to fix mortgage underwriting guidelines to consider energy efficiency."

Indeed, the folks at IMT and others have been talking about factoring efficiency into mortgage standards for years. In 2011, the organization helped promote a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate called the SAVE Act that would instruct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to include energy use in new mortgage guidelines. Lenders factor in income, personal assets, and property value -- why not energy, which costs homeowners roughly $2,200 a year? If homeowners save on energy costs, argue the researchers, then they have more money to pay a mortgage.

There are lots of potential qualitative unknowns behind the data. Perhaps homeowners who care about efficiency are more fiscally responsible and are therefore more likely to repay their loan; maybe those living in energy efficient homes are happier and stay in their homes longer; or maybe education level plays a role.

Mike Frantantoni of the Mortgage Bankers Association agreed that there are inexplicable factors at play that could slightly "overstate" some of the findings. But the researchers made sure the control group was very similar to the Energy Star homes in almost every way.

"It looks like the people who are buying energy-efficient homes are similar to the ones who are not. [These factors] might change the result slightly, but it doesn't lead me to question it," said Frantantoni.

Those advocating for revised lending standards say it's time to include energy consumption. Action wouldn't come on the lending level, but at the federal level, where mortgage guidelines are created. That could spawn a culture shift that would reach all the way down to the appraisal level -- ensuring that builders like Mike Baldwin get fairly recognized for the efficient homes they're building.

"If we can somehow get a mortgage that encourages efficiency, Energy Star buildings will increase across the board," said Baldwin. 

This is the first study of its kind to quantify the relationship between reduced lending risk and energy efficiency, said the researchers. Although some of the underlying factors at play are still fuzzy, they argued that the numbers are enough to spur change.

“You can act on this without knowing the exact cause. We now have enough information to adjust federal mortgage guidelines. The fact is that we are seeing lower default rates, and that’s a lender's biggest concern," said IMT's Majersik.



Weather Station Going Up Near Kleefeld

(Installed by Evolve Green)

Source: Steinbach Online


2012 12 weather1

If you've driven by the old Kleefeld dump in recent days, you may have noticed some weather equipment that's been erected. Steinbach Emergency Coordinator Denis Vassart says this is all part of an online weather station by Environment Canada.

Vassart says the equipment will provide weather information such as temperature, wind speeds and precipitation amounts for the Steinbach area. "Right now if you look at Environment Canada's website and you pick Steinbach as your site you're interested in, it will give you temperatures but on the site it says as observed at Emerson," notes Vassart. 2012 12 weather2

He says obviously the weather at Emerson can be entirely different from the weather at Steinbach and that is the reason they pushed for the new station. The project is an initiative between the Seine Rat River Conservation District, Hanover School Division, Rural Municipality of Hanover, Manitoba Agriculture Food and Rural Initiatives, Environment Canada and City of Steinbach.

Vassart notes the group started working on this project in 2009 and the expectation is that by early February it will be up and running. Then, when you visit Environment Canada's website and view weather information for Steinbach it will show conditions as observed at Kleefeld.

"For weather related emergencies it will be a big help," notes Vassart, who is also Emergency Coordinator for the RM of Hanover. "It's also a great learning tool for the students in the Hanover School Division that can go out there and have a look," he says.

The gate entering the grounds will remain locked, though Vassart says Hanover School Division will have key access if needed. However, he asks the general public not to enter that site.



Welcome To Lorette Billboard - Solar Powered & With LED Lights

(Installed By Evolve Green)

Source: Evolve Green



Evolve Green has recently installed solar panels and LED lights to the "Welcome To Lorette" billboard seen on the highway just outside of the town of Lorette.


UPDATE... New Lights Extend Winter Fun on Abe's Hill

(Installed by Evolve Green)

Source: Evolve Green



Evolve Green has recently installed a solar powered LED park light at the top of Abe's Hill. This is fully commissioned and operable. Kids can now enjoy tobogganing day or night, even during the short days of winter!


New Lights Extend Winter Fun on Abe's Hill

(Installed by Evolve Green)

Source: City of Steinbach website



New solar powered lights are being installed at the top of Abe’s Hill in L.A. Barkman Park on Giesbrecht Street. In winter, hours of fun are spent tobogganing, skiing or snowboarding down the hill. The solar lights will allow these winter activities to continue well into the evening.

Solar panels, located on the light post, will collect and store enough energy to run the lights for up to 6 hours each evening. The lights are programmed to turn on at dusk, extending the fun every day by a few hours.

Installation is expected to be completed in the next few days, weather permitting.

The solar lights are one of several recent additions to Steinbach parks made possible in part by a $15,000 Community Places Grant. New stationary fitness equipment also at L.A. Barkman Park and new playground equipment at E.A. Friesen Park were also recently installed.



Solar-Powered Floating Schools Allow Bangladeshi Kids To Learn During Monsoon Season





Source: Inhabitat
Image Credits: Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha


During monsoon season in Bangladesh, the very severe onslaught of torrential (extremely heavy) rain is such a frequent problem that hundreds of schools have to shut down periodically because of it.

Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, a non-profit organization in the area, has started building solar-powered schools which float like boats (they technically are boats) to help address the problem.

They enable schools to continue operation even on floodwater, and into the night, unlike non-solar-powered, grid-connected schools, which end up in the darkness if there is a flood or if it is too stormy.



Sandy-Battered Neighborhood Gives Thanks For Solar

Source: Grist
Video Credit: ClimateDesk on Youtube.



In the Rockaways, Long Island, the Bell Harbour Yacht Club made it possible for a local relief effort to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the community that to solar power… they still didn’t have electricity from the grid due to Hurricane Sandy.

This location became an important hub for supplies after Sandy, and the fact that their power wasn’t reconnected quickly enough certainly didn’t help. So, they started utilizing portable solar panels to provide electricity for lighting, some heating, etc.

I’m sure they were happy and thankful that their Thanksgiving wasn’t ruined by darkness and cold weather.



LED Lighting Helps Increase Milk Production By 6 Percent!

Source: As reported by Kirsten Korosec
Website: smartplanet



LED lights are becoming increasingly well known for their energy saving and eco-friendly benefits, with users being able to save significant amounts on their lighting bills when compared to other forms of lighting such as fluorescent and incandescent lights. LED bulbs are to be found in a wide variety of different applications, the latest of which is an extensive field study involving dairy farmers switching to LED lights in their milking sheds.

The research carried out by Oklahoma State University was originally commissioned to look at the performance of the LED lights overall, including electricity consumption and increased durability when installed on a working farm. As a side note, researchers monitored milk production to see the effects that the LEDs had on the livestock to ascertain whether the LED lights would harm the animals and affect their feeding. A reduction in the production of milk would indicate a problem.

However, a startling discovery has come to light, milk production actually increased following the switch from fluorescent to LED bulbs. In fact, the test herds produced an average of 6% more milk under LED light bulbs, equivalent to an extra half gallon per cow per day! The results amazed researchers and farmers alike and they are now looking into exactly why this would happen, as this could mean a revolution in dairy production.

One theory centres around the fact that LED lights reduce stress in the animals, making the cows more productive. The light given off by the new LEDs is a less harsh, more natural light than the previous fluorescent bulbs, offering a far more appealing environment for the livestock.

Dairy farmers can certainly benefit from switching to LED light bulbs in terms of the environmental and energy-saving benefits. LEDs use around 90% less electricity than other standard light bulbs and have a much improved life span – the average LED bulb lasts around 50 000 hours. An added advantage for installation on a working farm is the increased durability offered by LED bulbs, they are not subject to degradation from heat or vibration and therefore are far less prone to failure.