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Physicist, soccer player, senior: 3 B.C. eco heroes

Three Team Power Smart members — nuclear physicist Dr. Tim Cooper, pro soccer player Martin Nash, and senior William Richardson — share their energy-saving successes and offer inspiration along the way.

B.C. physicist big on global warming education

Environmental consciousness means different things to different people, but it often begins with a nagging sense that you're not contributing enough to the world.

Dr. Tim Cooper, a nuclear physicist and professor at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) heeded the call.

"My alarm over global warming has been growing since the day my high school physics teacher apologized for the state that his generation had left the planet for my generation. Feeling settled in my life, a few years ago I wondered what I could do to give back."

Dr. Cooper has put his 20 years of experience teaching university to work outside of the classroom, offering free lectures that explain the science behind our climate's upheaval, using simple terms and images. Since his first presentation in 2006, Dr. Cooper has delivered over 70 lectures to groups in the Lower Mainland, Washington and Ohio.

Lectures are arranged through a Chilliwack-based organization called the Green Life Guards that lobbies government to reduce carbon emissions. At presentations Dr. Cooper has distributed over 1,000 free compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) provided by BC Hydro, and he hopes that other physicists will take the same initiative in cities across Canada. For his efforts Dr. Cooper has received the Outstanding Initiative Award at UFV.

"I believe, like other scientists, that at this stage in history, getting to the public is much more important than research in a laboratory. I can scientifically disprove skeptics' misinformation, showing projections for what will happen if we start making changes."

Whitecaps soccer star treads lightly

Martin Nash knows how to make goals and stick to them. As a Vancouver Whitecaps veteran, he holds the record for fastest goal from the opening kick-off: 24 seconds, and he's the club's all-time ironman.

As a proud Team Power Smart member, Nash — brother of NBA superstar Steve Nash — uses these skills to reduce his environmental impact in his North Vancouver home. With wife Emma as his eco-coach, they put their house to the test.

Martin Nash admits, "All of our appliances are energy efficient, though we don't use them often. We regularly wash dishes by hand, and hang clothes on a line outside or on an air dryer in the house that's on a pulley system."

Emma used this method in Britain before moving to Canada. It saves costs, is easy [to use], and works as well as a dryer. Emma drives a hybrid SUV to shop for biodegradable and non-toxic household products. She has plans to install an inexpensive rainwater collection system that uses barrels and downspouts to catch water for the lawn and garden.

Since their home was new when they purchased, it got high marks for energy efficiency when it was audited. The walls and ceiling had been well insulated by the builder, so only minor adjustments were needed: weather sealing products were installed behind exterior wall light switches and outlets to stop escaping air.

The efficient open layout, with full windows on the south-facing backside and skylights, increases natural light, which decreases use of electric lights — all CFL bulbs.

"We encourage our kids to turn out lights and pull plugs; seeing us do the other things will make them a part of our kids' lives when they're older," says Nash. "And we regularly take them into North Vancouver's parks. These things don't change our lifestyle."

Vancouver Island senior saves $900 a year

Yearning for greener pastures and lower power bills in his future, 78-year-old William Richardson decided to upgrade his home's energy efficiency.

After having a home energy assessment, in which his Sidney townhouse scored disappointingly low, Richardson considered a solar hot water heater, a new furnace, and replacing the 700 to 800 square feet of windows in his 1,800-square-foot home. He began with a new furnace.

"One should always try to save power in any way that one can. It's a green way to reduce costs," says Richardson. "Our power bills were very high due to air escaping through the attic and windows, and because our poor quality thermostat was telling our old electric furnace to turn on when it shouldn't."

Richardson's improvements have yielded a 33 per cent reduction in power usage and energy cost savings of $900 in the past year. And little steps like changing all bulbs to CFLs and ensuring they're turned off when leaving a room, and organizing all errands — using a fabric shopping bag — around one car trip can make a difference.

"One should always try to save power in any way that one can. It's a green way to reduce costs."

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The above story is from the Power Smart section in the August issue of BC Home Magazine, which was mailed out as a complimentary gift to Team Power Smart members across B.C. To get the latest tips and exclusive offers from Power Smart, join the team now.

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Source: BC Hydro News