My Home Energy Project: Step 4 – Green Energy

Over the past two years, I have been working to reduce the impact of the energy consumed by my home. From creating an energy baseline, to minimizing heating/cooling and lighting loads, I have been able to reduce my energy consumption by over 20% for the household.

Plug loads were planned to be the next main area of focus for further reducing my energy consumption. However, there is a fine balance to be played between the waste created by discarding old appliances and the energy savings available. These trade offs should be weighed individually.

I lucked out that when I purchased my home as it came with recently replaced energy star appliances – and so, although there may be more efficient models available, I have decided to make responsible energy choices for these appliances only when they are in need of being replaced. Additionally, lets face it, new appliances can be expensive – and as someone who recently finished a MBA in September, my bank account is not prepared to make any major purchases unless it absolutely needs to.

In the meantime, I wanted to make progress on reducing the impact in regards to the source of my energy. My energy (including heat) comes solely from the electric grid. Depending on where you live, the energy fed into the grid can come from a variety of sources, including many heavily polluting one such as coal, oil or gas.

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The above table shows Canadian provinces and how their energy is generated. Provinces with more energy generated by higher polluting sources will benefit the most from switching to renewable energy – however all provinces will benefit.

Many people think about renewable energy being only onsite (such as rooftop mounted solar panels), but it doesn’t have to be. Options exist (such as Bullfrog Power) to purchase renewable energy remotely, allowing less upfront financial investment or ongoing maintenance with similar environmental benefit. Renewable energy certificates (REC’s) ensure that the same amount of energy you purchase is provided to the grid from a renewable source.  This money helps to fund new green energy projects increasing the amount of green energy on the grid, which helps to fight climate change and air pollution.

The best part? I was able to do this for less than $15/month. 

What are your thoughts on switching your home over to renewable energy? Do you have any experience with onsite or remote renewable energy? What do you think the largest road block for you would be?

Check out previous entries about My Home Energy Project.


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My new challenge for 2016? Get a handle on STUFF.

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The end of a calendar year is always a time of reflection for me – remembrance of the beauty hidden in small moments and what they have collectively taught me.

2015 was both challenging and immensely rewarding. However, it wasn’t the obvious things (such as achieving my MBA or P.Eng) that stand out when I reflect, but rather matters of the heart: relationships which helped me to grow, illness which made me aware of the fragility of life, and a happiness project which significantly altered the way I choose to interpret experiences.

This past year shook me, in the best way possible. I have emerged, I would like to think, stronger. My new challenge for 2016? Get a handle on STUFF. 

There are strong social narratives which have coloured our relationship with physical possessions. I want to explore these in depth, through examining their impact on my own life. I hope to make changes over the next year which will break this endless want for more “stuff” and to determine a strategy for reducing my home’s waste footprint.

I hope you consider joining me! What have you learned from your experiences in 2015? Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? I would love to hear more about them in the comments below!


 

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My Happiness Project: Stage 4

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This is the final stretch of my Happiness Project – a resolution to explore happiness. I have been attempting  3 new tactics every quarter of 2015, and I invite you to join me!

After much deliberation, the final three happiness tactics are as follows:

  • Audit & Assess your life – Book an hour or two over the next week. Sit down with a notebook, and be realistic about what a current week looks like for you. Track how much time is spent on different activities. Which of these activities do you enjoy? Which ones do you not? Are there activities which you love or find meaningful which you aren’t currently making time for? Would you rather have more time with family and pay a company to upkeep your home? Could you negotiate a swap with a friend (ie. you fix things up in their home, they cook home made meals for you) to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t? Question long held assumptions. Get creative. Implement changes.
  • Meaningful work – Most people spend the vast majority of their time at work, so it is no surprise that there is a direct correlation with overall happiness. Every year staying in a job that doesn’t inspire you is investing 2,000+ hours in a draining experience. If you aren’t currently doing work you love, start taking steps to make a change.
  • Giving to others –  Research has shown that doing things to help others can bring meaning and increase happiness, the magic number is 100 hours/year (or ~2 hours/week). Organize a regular volunteering session at a local food bank, visit an elderly friend who doesn’t have family in the city, or help a family who doesn’t have a car to pickup a heavy item they need. Look ahead, and schedule it in.

Over the past 9 months we have focused on: identifying 5 things we are grateful for (daily), meditating, removing one negative thing from our lives, investing in 5 meaningful relationships, exercising daily, creating a happy music playlist, disconnecting one night a week, making time for what you love, and getting 8 hours of sleep.

As I reflect on the past year, and the initiatives I have attempted, I have come to realize that there is a distinct difference between happiness (feeling based, in the present moment) and meaning (the bigger picture, incorporates our internal narratives around past experience and future projections).

I believe a meaningful life can be achieved through consistent intentional choices – both in terms of personal action as well as (perhaps more importantly) personal perception.  

For those of you who have implemented happiness initiatives – have you felt a change in your perspective? Be sure to share them below! What did you find most rewarding? For those of you who haven’t yet, consider trying your own  Happiness Project as your 2016 New Years resolution! I promise you won’t be disappointed.


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My Happiness Project: Stage 3

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This year, I made a resolution to go on a Happiness Project – a journey to explore if happiness itself can be pursued. My plan is to introduce 3 new tactics every quarter of 2015, and I invite you to join me!

I’m excited to announce the three new happiness tactics are as follows:

  • Disconnect one night a week – Over the past year, it has become more and more apparent to me how fast and furious I live my life at times. The days whiz by without much notice. I can loose myself in the endless forms of contact, and expectations of timely responses on multiple mediums. I’m exhausted! This quarter, I plan to schedule one night a week to disconnect, to put my phone on plane mode, and not step close to a computer. I plan, instead, to curl up with a good book, go for a walk in nature, meditate, scratch my dog, write. I plan to schedule (yes, in my calendar) a reoccurring mini-vacation, a time to unwind and refocus.
  • Make time for something you love (bi-weekly) – For me, this is art – painting, photography, music, poetry.  Something that gets your mind to soar, that awakens dreams, that you feel nothing but bliss when you do. Maybe for you it’s getting massages, baking bread early in the morning, or fixing up old cars – whatever it is that you really love, make time for it. If you live by your calendar, like I do, with almost every hour scheduled – schedule a reoccurring meeting in advance so you don’t get double booked. It’s ok to prioritize your own health and happiness.
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep – Yes, yes, yes. We all know we should be getting enough shut-eye. It’s all well and good to say you’ll do it – but when life plays out it can be a completely different story. So how do we make changes to increase our likelihood of actually sleeping? I plan to try a few tactics: start getting ready for bed an hour before you need to (put away electronics, clean up, slow down), remove ‘noise’ from your sleeping area (light, clutter, etc), and finally track it (from marking it on a calendar to using a sleep tracking app – being accountable is important).

Over the past 6 months we have focused on: identifying 5 things we are grateful for, meditating, removing one negative thing from our lives, investing in 5 meaningful relationships, exercising daily, and creating a happy music playlist.

For me, meditation (Headspace) and a daily gratitude practice have stood out as the most impactful tactics to date. Both have made me increasingly aware of the power of the mind, and our ability to change the way we perceive the world with dedicated work on rewriting our internal narratives. I would highly suggest you check out one or both of these tactics.

 

For those of you who have implemented happiness initiatives – what have been some of your experiences? Be sure to share them below! What did you find most fulfilling about investing in meaningful relationships? How did you include exercise in your schedule? Join the Happiness Project with me!


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Propelling success for environmental and social businesses

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It has been such a pleasure to explore over the past year (completing an MBA) how business has the ability to create significant and meaningful change in the world. Ultimately successful businesses provide value. They solve problems. If successful, they are able to provide these solutions on a large scale.

There is a beautiful trend to more socially and environmentally motivated organizations, who combine value creation and their mission to solve significant problems facing the world today. This gives me immense hope. There does not need to be a disconnect between business motivations and the health of the world around us. In fact, I think business may be the best equipped to truly change the world.

As I explore how I can best use my new business knowledge to contribute to positive change, I have recognized that many social and environmental businesses require exposure to ensure their organizations achieve their objectives. I am currently exploring the possibility of working to support businesses with online exposure and engagement. I am curious what business owners currently do (eg. social media) and where, if at all, there may be some value to add.

It would mean a great deal to me if you could complete this 10 question survey (if you run a business) and/or share this with others who you think may be interested. I really would appreciate any insights you may have!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CV7DHT6

I want to hear from you!

I’m in awe that in a couple weeks, I will be wrapping up the final pieces of a 12-month MBA (Masters of Business Administration) at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Business. It’s been a challenging but rewarding experience, adding new tools to my tool chest, as well as introducing me to many brilliant and motivated souls.

It has, however, limited the amount of time I have been able to put into this blog – but that’s about to change! I want to hear from you what content you really value, and what topics really speak to your heart. It would mean a great deal to me if you could fill out the survey below (3 questions)

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2WSGS3P

Shake the Dust

Shake the Dust – a poem by one of my favorite spoken word poets, Anis Mojgani. I hope you find brilliance and courage in his words, as I did. 


Do not let one moment go by that doesn’t remind you
That your heart, it beats 900 times every single day
Do not settle for letting these waves that settle
And for the dust to collect in your veins

Shake the dust, and take me with you when you do
For none of this has ever been for me
All that pushes and pulls, and pushes and pulls…
It pushes for you

So, grab this world by its clothespins,
And shake it out again and again.
And jump on top and take it for a spin
And when you hop off shake it again.

When the world knocks at your front door
Clutch the knob tightly and open on up
And run forward and far into its widespread, greeting arms
With your hands outstretched before you

Fingertips trembling, though they may be.


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You can find more artistic inspiration (poetic, visual and musical) here.