Nine years ago Terry Klause and Liz Simpson set out on a journey to reduce their environmental footprint.
After examining their values, they moved to an acreage Red Deer County.
The plan was to build a house, plant a garden and do some landscaping, which would align their desired lifestyle and values.
“My philosophy is start where you are in life and think about what you can do,” said Klause. “Do not take on too much. You can quickly overwhelm yourself. Look for people that can give you some advice from experience.”
Klause was recognized for his efforts with Parkland Airshed Management Zone’s Outstanding Role Model Award, one of the inaugural Blue Skies Awards on Wednesday.
The awards recognize individuals, businesses and organizations taking steps to improve air quality in Central Alberta.
The original plan was to build a straw bale house but it was the height of the boom and finding tradesmen was challenging, said Klause. Instead they went the conventional house building route.
However, their new home was built with high efficiency hydronic heating systems, triple glaze windows, dual flush toilets, solar panels, low-flow water fixtures and other technologies. Naturescaping is also a key element on their property. Their garden produces 1,000 pounds of produce every year.
Kevin Warren, Parkland Airshed Management Zone president, said everyone has an impact on air quality whether you are an individual, business, organization or municipality.
The Clean Air Achievement Award, the top honour, went to Border Paving Ltd.
The company installed 288 solar panels on the roof of its 10,000 square-foot shop in Golden West Avenue in October 2014. The panels generated 82 megawatt hours of electricity in 2015, reducing GHG emissions by 51 tonnes. The company, however, produced a net output of 34.5 kilotonnes of GHG emissions for 2015.
“Everybody thinks of the asphalt industry as one of baddest out there,” said Warren. “Maybe the thing they were singled out for, in the grand scheme, is not a huge offset in what they are doing but that it sends a signal to other industries, ‘hey you can do this.’ They did it all on their own without grants. To me that is commendable.”
Roger Walls, Border Paving’s operations manager said the company does its part by recycling large quantities asphalt every year. He is not sure whether they will install more panels but the company is exploring other options that may make a bigger impact.
“The 51 tonnes doesn’t mean much but we are doing what we can,” said Walls. “We recognize the importance of doing things as environmentally as we can.”
Warren said the awards will recognize sustainable behaviors and encourages others to do their part.
The Clean Air Technology Award went to Atco Gas and the Collicutt Centre for the Combined Heat and Power system. Installed in 2014, the system allows the centre to generate its own power and heat.
Blackfalds-based Ferus Inc. was the recipient of the Transportation EfficienciesAward. In recent years, the company converted its fleet to run on compressed natural gas (CNG).
The Air Quality Education and Community Outreach Award went to the Red Deer Public and Catholic schools for the idle-free program. Since 2010, the districts have promoted the program designed to change driver behavior. In February 2016, all Red Deer schools have been designated idle free zones.