N.S. couple goes 'net-zero' as they lower their carbon footprint
LUCASVILLE, N.S. -- If you think that going net zero and being more sustainable is too tough for you, follow the example of this Nova Scotia couple, who is proving that you can do it yourself.
Their house might look like many others, but when sustainable living advocates Joe Hood and Megan Andrus decided to build their new home, they decided it would be different.
"It all started with us running out of garden space, and deciding that we wanted to grow a little bit more and decided that it was time to add solar panels, and live a more sustainable life," said Joe Hood.
It all begins with their raised garden beds, which have provided so much fresh produce that they haven't had to buy any veggies for eight weeks.
"Some of the big things for us are tomatoes and hot peppers," said Megan Andrus. "We grow a lot of root crops, so an entire Thanksgiving meal -- everything but the turkey -- is coming from the backyard right now."
The plan is to keep right on growing into winter, thanks to their newly-constructed wallipini -- a greenhouse partly sunken into the ground.
"A wallipini is basically a passive solar greenhouse," Hood said. "It's designed so that even in the middle of the winter, when the sun comes out, the inside of the wallipini won't freeze, and then it holds the heat overnight so that it can warm up the next day."
"We're taking on more and more just to see if we can start reducing our carbon footprint, and live a little bit greener, a little bit more sustainable," Andrus said.
That's where the solar panels come in. They produce more power than they actually use, which means no power bill.
"Right now we're actually net-zero plus," Hood said. "We're going to be about two megawatt hours ahead by the end of the year."
It's the result of both the panels and the couple's concerted efforts to use less electricity by doing things like turning down the water heater and the thermostat.
"There is a shift," said Mark Butler, the policy director of the Ecology Action Centre. "People are taking measures in their own lives to be more sustainable, to be more green."
Butler says Hood and Andrus are an example of a turning of the tide as more people make life choices with the environment in mind.
What he'd like to see next is government support to help everyone get there.
"We need policy," Butler said. "It's heartening to see that environment is finally starting to be discussed in this election in a serious way."
To inspire others, Andrus and Hood are sharing their journey on a Facebook page titled Sound Living NS.
And while there is still more they want to do, their advice for anyone interested is to start small -- try something that fits in your lifestyle and see where the greener path takes you.
The couple is busy preparing for winter and they've been doing a lot of harvesting, a lot of preserving, and they're interested to see how warm the wallipini will stay over a Maritime winter.
Then, after that, it's going to be more gardens and moving beyond towards that net-zero sustainable lifestyle.