Things we can do now as our climate changes
When to Go Whole Hog on Shock-proofing?
Have you ever noticed how going whole hog (to the fullest extent: without reservation) varies in ultimate success? Thank heavens most of us don’t have the resources to get as wildly out of control as our visionary, climate shock-proofing schemes might relish taking us. However, a steady collection of innovations, one after another, might end up looking like a very sensible whole hog approach.
The time for tinkering has passed. It is necessary for each of us to invest in shock-proofing for our escalating heat, winds, and droughts. Every adult, not providing care for a child or an elder, is called upon to step up. We might examine innovations, to consider downscaling for ourselves, or upscaling for our communities.
I think my best drought measure so far, would be my cistern. There is nothing like showering in rainwater; even the machines in the house are thrilled and the raspberries are grateful during a drought. My small system of cistern water, backed-up by municipal/well water is a daily workhorse, providing some shock-proofing for me during dry spells and for my community during deluges.
But that’s not the question I’m contemplating.
How big could a shock-proofing strategy get and still pay? That is what I am thinking about, everywhere I look these days. Where does it make sense to go whole hog, and where not? Township Mayors will be facing this question during the Region of Waterloo Official Plan Review.
Nowadays, some communities find it sensible to go whole hog with cisterns. Even a rain garden in Toronto’s Fred Hamilton Park, captures and stores rainwater in an underground cistern, to be retrieved using a child-friendly hand pump, for watering trees, shrubs and other plantings.
- Smoky River, AB offers homeowners up to $6k to install a cistern.
- Guelph, ON offers homeowners up to $2k towards indoor or seasonal cistern installations.
In cisterns, the whole hog approach seems a successful, shock-proofing strategy. Do any local builders offer homeowners the option of a cistern system? Driveway contractors? Landscapers? A niche in the trades!
Next, let’s think shock-proofing energy. Might the benefits of local neighbourhood energy systems outweigh those of current big electrical systems? In a recent podcast, Patrick Michelle of the Kanaka Bar, BC described their renewable energy electric system which will be paid for in about 10 years and gives the 200+ residents household power for $0-$8/month. Michelle believes this system could be upscaled to provide for a region.
- Drake Landing Solar Community, AB Fifty-two R-2000 homes connected to a solar district heating system, supplying over 90 percent of the space-heating needs.
When I think of a recently proposed, massive intra-provincial electricity network, based on complex technical systems and extensive, fragile infrastructure, well, whole hog complexity may not be such a good idea? But whole hog multiple small systems, widespread, seems more shock-proof, all round.
What about our housing? Since 1990, Passive house design has been scaled from large apartment blocks (even a zoo!) all the way to tiny homes.
- Toronto Community Housing decided on a Passive House Standard
- Meadowbrook Lane Community (Windsor) affordable housing residence is designed to meet and achieve Passive House Standards
This strategy adds building costs of 4%-7%, and reduces utility bills by 90%, but requires no energy for heating/cooling for 3-4 days of extreme temperatures? Now that’s shock-proofing! Whole hog? Yes!
Ontario’s Frank Stronach discovered efficiency limits when expanding manufacturing innovations whole hog. We could do well to remember Stronach’s experience: use data, watch for the end point of benefits, let our missteps keep us grounded, be proactive.
As proactive township residents we might encourage our Mayors in going whole hog in a widespread sense, where feasible, as they update Climate Change policies during the Regional Official Plan Review. Let’s recommend our Mayors consider brave policies to shock-proof our rural communities as the catastrophic heat, wind, and drought of the tropics/poles move toward the mid-latitudes. Our homes require whole hog, widespread, small scale, shock-proofing. Today.
Written by The Green Neighbour