Pick up any newspaper and you’re likely to come across an environmental story that’s making headlines – usually in a negative way. The recent oil spill in the Gulf coast is an example of an environmental tragedy of such epic proportions that trying to wrap your mind around just what happened is almost too much to bear. For many people the easy answer is to tune it all out, especially when it seems impossible to make a difference. But you can. Isn’t that a relief? And oh, what a difference you will make!
What Difference Does It Make?
Like anything in life getting results takes hard work and perseverance; the same could be said for taking care of the planet. With everyone putting in their two cents on the different ways you can green the planet, you’ve probably thought to yourself at one time or another ‘What difference am I truly making by purchasing energy efficient appliances?’ or ‘ Why am I bothering to turn off my lights when that business down the road leaves its lights on all night’? Well, the good news is that these small differences are a part of a larger picture –change. Questioning these green-savvy ideas is only natural, but here’s the thing; that energy efficient appliance will definitely save your bill payment on top of the energy savings. And that business down the road with the lights on? Well they use solar energy to run their lights off the grid. Everybody’s going green. And it’s this collective spirit that’s going to change our world.
The Bigger Picture
Being a part of cleaner technology isn’t a fad; it’s taking steps to ensure the future of our world, the one we’re leaving to our children, is a good one, a healthy one. But waiting for the masses to agree that all this ‘green hoopla’ is in fact worth it shouldn’t be what we’re holding out for. Thanks to support from the OntarioTrillium Foundation, CWF recently installed 10 more solar panels to our roof-top grid, bringing our total to 30. Together, the panels produce 24 kilowatt hours of energy a day and reduce carbon emissions by close to three tonnes each year. The solar panels provide enough energy to supplement office equipment and lighting.
And we want to encourage you to be the voice in your community that asks which business are operating off the grid or utilizing environmentally friendly technologies. Not so polished on your knowledge of green technologies? We’ve broken down the basics of the kind of energy your community might be utilizing or could think about investing in.
Solar energy comes from the sun and travels to Earth in the form of electromagnetic radiation. The total amount of solar energy that is available to Earth is continually altered by variables such as cloud cover and Earth’s distance from the sun. Once the energy enters our atmosphere, it is measured in watts per metre (meaning how much energy is entering and at what capacity). After the cost of the solar panels is absorbed, it is an extremely easy way to collect your own energy. Solar energy is popularly collected for heating, cooling and electricity.
Earth Energy (Two types: Earth and Geothermal)
When the temperatures found beneath the Earth’s surface are used to naturally generate heating or cooling processes, that is called using Earth energy. Geothermal energy is slightly different in that it is harnessed through use of steam or hot water in the Earth’s crust. The main focus for both of these energies is that they utilize the Earth as the source, which saves processed power from local grids.
Earth energies can be used to provide heating, cooling and power generation by use of bodies of water like oceans and lakes, or steam and hot water in the Earth’s crust. However, geothermal energy isn’t for every region because there needs to be natural features such as cracks or holes in the Earth’s surface for the facilities to run efficiently.
Hydroelectric energy is power generated by the flow of water. At hydroelectric facilities, dams harness water power and water flow is controlled and put through turbines that generate electric power due to the force of the water from gravity. There needs to be a sufficient source and flow of water to accommodate hydroelectric facilities. However, Canada is rich with water and a variety of topography to house hydroelectric power. Whether it’s through waterfalls, rapids, canyons or rivers, this alternate energy source is plentiful throughout the nation.
Wind energy is created by harnessing the power of wind through turbines and transforming it into electricity and mechanical energy. The amount of potential energy in any current of wind can vary depending on air density, pressure, temperature and altitude. As long as there are wind currents, this form of energy is sustainable and pollution free. Wind turbine generators are popping up all over the world. They can also be connected to existing power grids and provide energy for small homes, farms and even industry. This benefits the majority of the population who rely on the power grid.