Environment File

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Idle crackdown clears air

Residents will want to keep an eye on their tailpipes this June as bylaw officers start ticketing people for idling their cars.

The city’s anti-idling bylaw lets officers issue $100 fines to drivers who idle their cars for more than three minutes in a 30-minute period when the outside temperature is between zero and 30 C.

Officers have so far stuck to giving drivers warnings about the bylaw, says city environmental co-ordinator Meghan Myers. “We’ve done the education portion of the bylaw,” she says, adding now it’s time for enforcement.

Staff will promote the bylaw on June 3 as part of Clean Air Day. As usual, city residents can ride the bus for free that day and enter a draw for free bus passes. Free bike tune-ups will also be available at St. Albert Place.

The day is part of a slew of local eco-events taking place during Alberta Environment Week, which is May 31 to June 6. Local students and environmentalists will test ponds and rivers on Water Quality Awareness Day (June 5). Bargain hunters are expected to swarm Servus Credit Union Place on June 6 for the Take It or Leave It event, where residents can leave or take unwanted large items.

Contact the office of the environment at 780-459-1735 for information on these events.

Also on June 6 is the Eco-Solar Home Tour, the Edmonton energy-efficiency event that is now celebrating its 10th anniversary. The free tour, first established in 1999, highlights energy-efficient and solar-powered homes throughout the Edmonton region.

The tour was initially part of the now-defunct Energy Efficiency Week in Edmonton, says Gordon Howell, a renewable energy engineer and one of the tour’s founders. It was initially supposed to be a bus tour, he recalls, and the organizers expected just 40 people to show up. “Then I arrived on the [meeting]site in the afternoon and there were 200 people waiting. Oops!”

This year’s tour features six open houses, Howell says, including Edmonton’s two Net-Zero homes. Experts will be available at each to explain how the homes save energy or use solar power.

Of note this year is the home of John and Rose Elliot, Howell says. The couple spent about $60,000 to bring their 1957-era home up to an EnerGuide rating of 79 — far above the typical Alberta rating of 68. “It’s a fantastic example of an ordinary person doing something to make a smaller [ecological]footprint.”

The renovations were expensive, says John Elliot, but the house itself was pretty cheap to begin with. “We wanted to have a home that was energy efficient, and wanted to see if we could do it.” After a year and a half, he and Rose managed to re-insulate the roof, walls, and basement, install triple-paned windows and plant a large garden in their yard. “We’re not trades-people,” he adds. “We did all the work ourselves.”

The Elliots received a few thousand dollars in rebates from the federal government for their efforts, and now have much lower gas bills than their neighbours. “There’s a lot you can do without spending much money,” he adds, such as sealing the leaks in your house. He hoped the new provincial rebates would encourage more people to renovate their homes.

The self-guided tour runs from noon to 4 p.m. Visit www.ecosolar.ca for the locations.

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