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Thesis Draft April 12, 2006 Commonplace Ecovillage and the Ecological Footprint by Jessica Aird
Thesis Question What is the ecological footprint of an individual living in the Commonplace Ecovillage Niagara? What technological aspects (infrastructure) and lifestyle choices can be adopted to reduce the footprint?
Ecovillages According to the Global Ecovillage Network: “Ecovillages are urban or rural communities of people, who strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low-impact way of life. To achieve this, they integrate various aspects of ecological design, permaculture, ecological building, green production, alternative energy, community building practices, and much more” (GEN, 2005).
Ecological Footprint • Sustainability indicator that measures biologically productive land area required to sustain a given population indefinitely (Global Hectares). • This method will be critically assessed in thesis discussion
Accounts for all wastes produced from consumption (incl. CO2). • Calibrated to include indirect commercial and public expenditures • Average Canadian EF is 8.8 Ha (Redefining Progress, 2006) • Due to trade most EF’s are not located in one area, and are usually not local
Calculating EF’s • Calculated using a spreadsheet:
Profiles • 3 lifestyle profiles used for modeling • Average Impact (Stats Canada) • Modest Impact • Low Impact • Modest and Low Impact profiles are derived from national averages or RD averages
Average Impact Individual • This person consumes average amounts of consumer goods and eats an average amount of food (as per Statistics Canada data). This profile is intended to represent the average Canadian lifestyle, and impact this lifestyle has on an individuals ecological footprint. • Food: This person consumes food as per Stats Canada food consumption data. This includes regular meat consumption and foods that are imported, and foods that are processed and packaged. • Transportation: This person travels regularly by car for leisure, to work, and to shopping. Public transit, cycling and walking is rarely a method of transportation. All the distance traveled (as per the distance traveled survey by NRC) is done by car. • Goods: This person uses all goods needed as well as some luxury items. He/she is not concerned with the manufacturing of the goods. • Waste: This person recycles regularly, but puts a lot of recyclables in the garbage.
Modest Impact Individual • This is a realistic lifestyle for an environmentally minded individual living in Niagara. This profile is made to represent someone who would live in the Commonplace Ecovillage, and make environmentally minded choices. • Food: Mostly vegetarian, but with modest meat consumption (once or twice a week). Eats mostly local organic and free range foods, and rarely exceeds calorie requirements. This person eats some non-local foods, such as kiwi fruit, pineapple, and oranges, but all food that can be purchased locally will be. • Transportation: Cycles and walks when weather permits, uses public transit when weather is bad. Takes vacations once a year by airplane, and drives to several vacation destinations. This profile includes a hybrid vehicle. • Goods: Tries to purchase only what is needed, and buys environmentally sustainable products whenever possible. Tries to buy locally made goods. • Waste: This person recycles at the Niagara goal of 65%.
Low Impact Individual • This is an uncommon, but achievable lifestyle for a person living and working in the Niagara region. For the purposes of the ecological footprint analysis this profile will demonstrate the affect that extreme lifestyle changes will have on a person’s overall footprint. • Food: Vegetarian who eats local organic foods, but maintains proper health. • Transportation: Walks or rides bike to shopping and groceries, travels very little, and usually by public transportation. Allowances are made for a couple vacations within Ontario, and one trip via airplane per year, but no vehicle is owned • Goods: Buys locally made products as much as possible. He/she buys only what is needed and has few luxury items. This person tries to buy clothing and other items from second hand sources. • Waste: This person goes above and beyond the Regional waste diversion goal and recycles 95% of the waste in this section of the spreadsheet.
Green Technologies • Includes in the housing portion of the spreadsheet for the ecovillage models • Wind or Solar power • Green building techniques (straw bale) • On site greywater treatment • Composting Toilets
Food • Cropland, fisheries, pasture • Fossil fuels • Vegetarian choices and local foods can reduce the footprint in this category. • 14 - 25% of total EF
Housing • Fossil energy to build and run household • Forest products for building • Lifespan of 40 yrs is assumed • Energy lost in conversion of fossil energy to electricity (70%) • 19-41% of total footprint
Transportation • Fossil fuels used to build vehicles (15% additional energy) and roads/airports/bridges (35% additional energy) considered • Built up land for infrastructure considered • 9-21% of total footprint
Goods • Includes waste and byproducts associated with the manufacture and use of goods • Built up land required for manufacture and disposal included • 11-18% of total footprint
Services • Affects fossil fuel and built up land • Insurance - Energy to rebuild homes, medical insurance not considered • Water/Sewer/Garbage - Only garbage considered • 11-13% of total footprint
Waste • Fossil energy and built up land are affected • Energy required to transport and recycle or incinerate garbage • Energy saved by recycling • Built up land used for disposal (landfills) • 7-15% of total footprint
Methodology • Household Ecological Footprint Calculator V. 3.2, 2003 is being used (Redefining Progress) • Modeling will be done to analyze impact areas • Based on modeling analysis recommendations will be made on ecovillages and sustainability
Results Ecological Footprints of the various profiles
Discussion • Ecovillage was marginally better • Lifestyle changes made large difference in EF • Housing, Transportation, and Food were the big footprints • Footprint concept can be applied to people who are not living in an ecovillage
Discussion - Food • Eat more meat alternatives • Canada Food Guide • “field to fork” policy (OFA, 2006) • Niche farming - Organic, Specialty herbs, Free range products • Organic Food
Discussion - Housing • R-2000 certification - expand to all new homes • CHMC, NRC, Enbridge home retrofitting loans • Technologies used in an ecovillage are similar to R-2000
Discussion - Transportation • Increased public transportation use reduces footprint • GTA farecard makes public transit more convenient (MTO, 2005) • Poor fuel consumption increases footprint - SUV’s and Trucks are bad
Discussion - Drawbacks • Weak in housing category because of ecovillage technologies • Natural gas and propane use • Building materials not accounted for • Doesn’t account for Organic food • Doesn’t account for compost program
Discussion - Advantages • Accounts for embodied energy • Easy to use, and works well for standard situations • End units are easy to understand • Can be used to measure progress or to make a sustainability plan
Discussion - Footprint • Not ideal for measuring sustainability of an ecovillage • Good for measuring EF when standard technologies are being used • Potential application for home use • Good educational tool
Application - The Nature Challenge • 1 Reduce home energy use by 10% • 2 Choose an energy-efficient home & appliances • 3 Don't use pesticides • 4 Eat meat-free meals one day a week • 5 Buy locally grown and produced food • 6 Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle • 7 Walk, bike, carpool or take transit • 8 Choose a home close to work or school • 9 Support alternative transportation • 10 Learn more and share with others David Suzuki Foundation, 2006
Future Research • Test same principles on a larger scale ecovillage • Is the technology more significant? • Can food footprint be further reduced by farming on-site? • An economic analysis of the technology as well as the lifestyle • Can we save money living this way? • What are the low-cost ways to reduce the footprint?
References • Canada Food guide for Healthy Eating, 2004 • David Suzuki Foundation, 2005. The Nature Challenge. Accessed April, 2006 http://www.davidsuzuki.org/WOL/Challenge/ • Lenzen, M. & Murray, S. A., 2001. A modified ecological footprint method and its application to Australia, Ecological Economics, 37(2), 229–255. • Natural Resources Canada, private vehicle use survey, 1996 • Ontario Federation of Agriculture, 2006. Premier’s Opening Remarks to the 2006 Agri-Food Summit February 8, 2006. • Wackernagel, Mathis., Monfreda ,Chad., Deumling, Diana., Dholakia, Ritik., 2003. Household Ecological Footprint Calculator V 3.2, Redefining Progress, California. • Wackernagel, M., Yount, D.J., 2000, Footprints for Sustainability: The Next Steps. Environment, Development, and Sustainability,2, 21-42 • Wackernagel, M. & Rees, W., 1995. Our Ecological Footprint: reducing human impact on the earth (Philadelphia, PA, New Society Publishers).