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Scott BennettAs published by the Brooklin Town Crier - December 4, 2009

by Scott Bennett

Wow! What an exciting time in our community! You've undoubtedly noticed the term “Green Economy” in the news over the past year. Well on November 28th, I witnessed a milestone event in the new Green Economy. I attended a ground-breaking for the Durham Eco-HouseDurham Eco-House Group Photo, a new, not-for-profit organization creating the first environmentally-sustainable demonstration home in Durham. But the key part of this is, they're not building a new home, they're retrofitting an existing home. This renovation project will demonstrate how we can reduce our environmental impacts by upgrading home energy efficiency.

In addition to improving the energy efficiency of the home, Durham Eco-House will also be renovating in a sustainable manner. This means reducing waste by donating materials removed from the home, such as kitchen cabinets, to the Habitat for Humanity “Re-Store.” Habitat for Humanity will sell these donated materials to help build affordable houses in the community. Durham Eco-House is also sourcing recycled, local and sustainably-produced materials for the renovation. The goal is to become LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. The Vice President and director, Michael McKenzie, is a LEED Accredited Professional and is spearheading the certification process.

The Durham Eco-House is located at 575 Lakeridge Road South in Whitby, just south of the 401. When the renovation is complete, visitors will be able to see displays around the house that explain how a particular system works as well as the cost and investment returns to an average home owner. This is an opportunity to demonstrate how we can improve the energy efficiency in our homes – a meaningful way to significantly reduce our impacts on climate change.

Bill Hamm and Ivan FloodThis project brings together government, industry, academia and the community. There were a number of guest speakers including Mayor Pat Perkins, Ajax Mayor Steve Parish, MPP Joe Dixon, MP Mark Holland and Judy Robinson, Vice President, Academic, at Durham College. I found it inspiring to hear Judy talking about how this project will be used to help teach students and prepare them for work in renewable energy and the green economy. It demonstrates to me how leaders in our community are planning for a green future.

Of course, the true leader here is Ivan Flood, owner of Total Home Comfort. He's been working on this idea for several years. His vision was to have a place for homeowners to see and learn about sustainable homes. Ivan thinks it's important for people to be able to do this in an environment in which they are not pressured by sales staff. Ivan recruited his good friend Bill Hamm as the Executive Director of Durham Eco-House to establish partnerships and engage the various levels of government to support the initiative.

Congratulations to Ivan and Bill on launching such an important and visionary organization.

For ideas on how you can go green, see our going green tips.

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