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Reducing Greenhouse Gases from Middle-Class Homes

Climate Solutions Special Issue
This article originally appeared in the Climate Solutions Special Issue issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2008
In 1998 the Canadian federal government signed on to the Kyoto Protocol with a stated goal of reducing national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. This is a difficult level to achieve, and every sector, including housing, was given targets and some incentives. Support for housing came in the form of rebates on energy-saving retrofits, which were available through the EnerGuide for Houses program, and consumer information programs. One such program, the One-Tonne (metric ton) Challenge, asked Canadian homeowners to reduce their annual GHG emissions from an average of 5 metric tons to an average of 4 metric tons—a 20% reduction—and suggested ways to achieve this reduction. Jane Thompson, an architect who lives in one of Canada’s earliest planned communities, on the outskirts of Ottawa, Ontario, decided to explore just how challenging it would be for her neighbors to meet this One-Tonne Challenge. In 2004 she received funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to undertake a neighborhood-based GHG reduction experiment. Could she get her neighbors to adopt environmentally sustainable behaviors by providing them with good information and the tools to help them achieve GHG reductions? Twenty households were selected from volunteers in her older ...

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