Sustainable Gabriola

A delightful puppet show featuring the Three Little Gabriola Pigs was presented by Johanne and Odette at the Building Climate 12-12-12 Café on June 22. Successful small, energy-efficient approaches to building were presented by Tobi Elliot and Bob Andrew, along with some innovative zoning options. Table-talk participants discussed numerous shelter solutions, focussing on shared housing and land, optimizing energy efficiency in new builds and retrofits, improving substandard housing on the island, the importance of location, and rethinking our assumptions and beliefs around housing.

Housing co-ops, shared housing, and land co-ops with shared amenities were proposed. We discussed the need to rethink how we live together and to shift to more shared modes, mixing private space with common laundry, kitchen, creative and entertainment spaces. Shared workspaces were also discussed, with art studios mentioned as an example.

Retrofitting existing dwellings, with a focus on highest impact for lowest cost, was seen as crucial in the shift toward more energy-efficient buildings. Ideas and supports for such conversions included having trained energy advisors on tap, building a decision-making matrix, rethinking our use of energy, incorporating heat pumps and on-demand water heaters, and simply using inside or outside clotheslines or racks instead of electric dryers.

Many people brought up concerns about how our building code discourages innovative or small buildings. It was suggested (only partly tongue-in-cheek) that we collectively say no to regulations that don’t make sense, and challenge the building code requirements for specific products that drive up energy use or expense (and are largely the result of industry lobbying).

Strategies to reduce transportation-related emissions included an increase in housing near where services are available, and a decrease in outlying areas.

Another idea was to establish hubs of basic services in several island spots, to reduce the need for everyone to travel to the Village for everything. Recognizing the need to manage water and septic services initiated a short discussion of swales and rainwater harvesting.

We will have a fuller discussion of rainwater harvesting and other water issues at our Water and Climate Change Café on Thursday, July 20, starting 7:00pm at the Agi Hall. Tables and chairs provided, but bring your own beverages and food.

And you are invited for a GERTIE tour of exemplary rain- and well-water systems on Sunday, July 23.

Local News