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Environment File

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  |  Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014 06:00 am

IT’S ELECTRIC – A number of electric cars will be on display at the Drive the Future Expo.
IT’S ELECTRIC – A number of electric cars will be on display at the Drive the Future Expo.
FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

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Electric car expo

Local residents will get to drive the future next week as a high-efficiency vehicle show rolls back into Edmonton.

The fourth annual Drive the Future Expo on high-efficiency vehicles is next Saturday at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). About 1,500 people are expected to attend.

The show brings together hybrid and electric car enthusiasts from across the province to promote cars, trucks and bikes that run on little to no fossil fuels.

This is the event's second year at NAIT, says co-organizer Jesse Tufts.

“This year we've got around 50 vehicles lined up,” he says, including Tesla Roadsters, a Porsche plug-in hybrid, and the University of Alberta's Eco-Car, which recently took first in its category at the Shell Eco-Marathon.

Guests will get to test drive Segways, GoPET scooters and a Nissan Leaf, and enter to win a spin in a Tesla Roadster, Tufts says.

“We'll be baking solar cookies all day if the sun is out,” he continues, and making smoothies using bike-powered generators.

Inside the NAIT building will be many free talks on biofuels and electric vehicles.

About 32 per cent of St. Albert's greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, reports the Office of the Environment and Sustainability.

Alberta has one of the world's highest per capita levels of greenhouse gas emissions, Tufts says. If we want to keep our social license to sell natural resources, we need to show the world we're serious about addressing this issue.

“We want to give Albertans a chance to experience these technologies.”

Tufts says he spent about $12,000 to convert his Japanese mini-truck into an all-electric vehicle.

“It's really zippy right off the line,” he notes, as it has about twice the torque of a conventional car, and has no engine noise or vibrations.

It also costs about 1.5 cents per kilometre to run it – about a tenth the cost of a gasoline-powered car.

“My commute to work and back costs me 25 cents.”

He never has to change the oil, never has to go to a gas station, and never has trouble starting his car in the winter, he says.

“It's a win all around.”

Tufts says his car gets about 60 kilometres a charge, which is more than enough for two days of city driving. He suggests people consider an electric car for their commuting needs.

The show runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 7 at NAIT's central campus. Visit drivethefutureexpo.com for details.

Clean Air Day

Smell that clean air? That means free transit has returned to St. Albert.

June 4 is Clean Air Day in St. Albert – an annual event meant to raise awareness about air pollution.

St. Albert Transit is once again offering free rides from 9:30 to 3:30 as part of the event, says spokesperson Will Steblyk.

“Transit is a more environmentally responsible transportation mode,” he explains, and the department wants to thank residents for using it.

June bus pass holders can enter into a draw for one of seven free passes during Clean Air Day, Steblyk says.

Clean Air Day is a part of Environment Week in Alberta, says Leah Kongsrude, the city's corporate strategic services director. Residents can take part by walking, biking or busing around town.

“If transit doesn't work for you, maybe carpool for a day.”

A report out this week from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggests that outdoor air pollution costs OECD nations about $1.7 trillion in deaths and illnesses, about half of which is due to emissions from road transportation.

Travelling by bus produces about 65 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than driving a car, Steblyk says.

The city is working on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through its recently approved energy action plan, Kongsrude continues. Staff also recently installed the city's first public electric car charging station downtown, which has seen use by 10 to 20 cars.

“A lot of the cars that come to get charged are the Teslas,” Kongsrude notes, which are a very cool sight.

Visit www.stalbert.ca/clean-air-day for further details.


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