I want to talk about three anecdotes: small steps on the road to sustainable living; two steps forwards; and, unfortunately, one backwards which is how most of these journeys go.

I live on a hill near town, near enough to commute easily by bicycle yet high enough to make using a bicycle feel like hard work. My personal commitment to reducing my carbon footprint made me go and look for a solution which turned out to be an electric-assisted bicycle. This uses a small electric motor to supplement my pedaling, with the result that I cruise up and down the surprising number of hills in town while barely breaking a sweat. However, having ridden the bicycle for a couple of months now, it turns out that it can be quite difficult to find secure places to park the bike. I mentioned this to someone at the Corporation of Hamilton and his response was a very helpful: "Tell us where you want a rack as we have several we can install."

So here we have a combination of old technology meeting new technology for a low-energy solution, coupled with a helpful attitude from a local organisation. This is how we will change the future.

The second story is less encouraging but there are still positive lessons to learn. In 2009, Government installed LED lights in Global House in an attempt to save energy. Unfortunately, due to a combination of poor needs assessment, poor decision-making and poor execution, the lights were not adequate and are now being replaced at an estimated cost of $6,000 (The Royal Gazette, October 22, 2011). This is in addition to the cost of installation, which for LED lights can be rather high. To make matters worse, this newspaper ran a story on Friday, October 28, headlined "LED street light experiment fails", reporting that LED street lights are being removed.

So what/where is the good news here? Well, Government and Belco are trying to reduce electricity demand in fact, they expect to install LED lights in all the Island's 3,895 street lights.

Greenrock's Green Buildings Forum has members from around 40 companies from small service companies to large international finance companies. Almost all of these companies are using, or are intending to try, LED lighting as a proven technology to help their bottom line. One step forwards, one step backwards!

The third story takes place in a grocery store (Lindo's Devonshire in fact as an aside, Lindo's recently completed installation of a solar energy system at this site).

I bumped into an old friend there who told me that she was planning to install a solar hot water system on her house. She said that it was quite an investment but that she was planning for her retirement and was looking forward to significant savings on her electricity bill. Solar thermal hot water systems used to be considered a bit 'alternative' and experimental in Bermuda (despite the fact they have been widely used around the world for more than 30 years) but now they are going mainstream. Many of the large air-conditioning and plumbing companies are supplying solar hot water and even solar electricity systems, increasing the exposure of Bermuda residents to these technologies and instilling consumer confidence in this investment.

So now back to my electric bicycle. When I ride into town in the foreseeable future, I will soon be able to confidently lock my bike at the Corporation of Hamilton bike racks and refill my water bottle at a Greenrock Hydration Station (see The Royal Gazette, September 15, 2011). And as I coast on my low-carbon transport, past some electric cars, I can look across the harbour at solar panels.

I am optimistic that despite our community's general suspicion of new technology and of change, there is a strong current of acceptance and of movement towards a sustainable future.

Click here to read on The Royal Gazette's website.

About Greenrock

According to The Footprint Network, which measures the ability of the planet to produce resources and absorb waste, our resource use and waste production is 60% more than the earth can produce or absorb annually.

This overshoot is the result of decisions that we each make every day. We seek to generate debate and to influence people to change their behaviour.We strive to be catalysts: Success for us is when we can Change the Mindset so that sustainable use of resources is included in decision-making for individuals, government or businesses. ... read more

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Hamilton HM11, Bermuda

Telephone: 1-441-747-ROCK (7625)
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