When Ruth and Tom Bowes decided to move to the small community of Eden Mills, just northwest of Milton, Ont., they were already on board with the village’s plan to become Canada’s first carbon-neutral community.
“I’ve always felt that people, if they were just a little bit more conscious of the decisions they make — from the clothes they wear to the food they eat, to how they live, how they consume — we’d go a long way in climate change,” said Tom Bowes.
The couple said they live in the second straw-bale home in Eden Mills. The decision to use the insulating properties of straw went beyond saving money on their energy bills.
“It’s agricultural waste, so you could say that straw-bale homes have the most environmentally benign way to build a home,” Tom said.
Their home, a “solar passive” house, faces south with plenty of windows on that south side, using the sun to generate heat along with the wood-burning stove and propane to heat the polished cement floors.
“We’ve learned that when your feet are warm, you’re warm,” Tom said.
WATCH: Riding 101: Milton
The village’s shift to going carbon-neutral came about in 2007. The residents organized various workshops, and like-minded neighbours started by switching to LED light bulbs and organizing tree-planting initiatives.
This was followed by embracing green technologies, which ultimately led to the town’s community hall standing as the centrepiece for carbon-neutrality.
Most of the upgrades to the hall, though, are not as obvious as the solar panels on its roof. On the inside, the insulation work, along with the replacement of the furnaces from oil and propane to air-to-air heat pumps, have made all the difference.
“This graph shows our carbon emissions as they moved from 2005 to 2018. We began in this hall emitting more than 14,000 kg of CO2 … and today, everything is pretty much down to zero,” said Linda Sword, Eden Mills carbon-neutral advocate.
Another couple, Leszek Zawadzki and Linda Henry, also set out to “over-build” their dream home in Eden Mills. The couple opted for extra insulation in the walls and roof, triple-glazed-windows and heated concrete floors.
WATCH: Riding Rant: Milton – we take the streets of Milton to see what is on the minds of Miltonians as we approach Election Day
Zawadzki also said that with the installation of solar panels atop their garage, the couple is producing more electricity than they are using.
“It’s showing other people, other communities that you can do something,” Zawadzki said.
WATCH: (Dec. 5, 2018) Maersk pledges to improve its carbon footprint
Now, in the village’s 12th year of working toward its carbon-neutral goal, Sword says they have the surveys and studies to prove it’s all working.
“Pretty comfortably, I could say that the village is 75 per cent carbon-neutral,” Sword said.
As we move closer to election day, community members in Eden Mills will be paying close attention to any and all climate change platforms.