Unfinished Houses by Fortino Acosta

(Editor's note: The author of this guest blog is an Industrial Engineer 
and Landscape Architect. Many thanks to Fortino for this thoughtful article. 
As always, your comments are welcome)

Unfinished Houses
Residential Policy and Climate Change in Lethbridge, Alberta

by Fortino Acosta IE MLA

Our province has one of the highest (if not the highest) carbon footprints per capita in the world. 72 ton CO2 / year while our American neighbor, the second largest contributor of greenhouse gases worldwide, averages 20 ton CO2 / year. Mexico, which is among the top 15, has a rate of 4 ton C02 / year . 

Do you understand now the disparity of what we are living? The development model we are living this vision of dramatically changing the nature and greatness of all Alberta and even Canada itself.

I am a new resident in Alberta, and all this concern was born from the simple reason of seeing every house with rain gutters but without any kind of storage. House after house . If they do this with water... what about the heating system? I also found out that geothermal systems are rare here. Finally, the fences are made by unsustainable logging practices in original forests in the back country or imported from China without any other information. 

There are three simple ideas that could be regulated and promoted by local government to help us regain our friendly lifestyle and pride in living in this unique place.

Rainwater use and beauty

I propose that our public officials include the following in our construction standards:

1. All new construction to include rainwater harvesting, adequate for the residents (rain gardens, rain barrels, water tanks, etc).     
2. All new construction requires a geothermal system installation for air conditioning, space heating and hot- water services .
3. Lumber suppliers have to guarantee their products' origin from reforested wood farms or reclaimed timber certification.

Why wastewater? You pay for it from the tap!

Do these very practical suggestions benefit the Oldman River? Yes! These three actions together decrease rainwater runoff, reduce our dependence on fossil energy, increase forest areas without jeopardizing existing forests.

Close your eyes, imagine the river and feel the change as this happens: New forests will appear in our landscape, our watershed will be healthier, the water treatment plants less burdened, your water bill smaller and our houses are going to look completed and smarter. 

In the meantime, let us create the city we want and start to reduce our ecological footprint. I invite you to seek out friends and neighbours who already use rainwater or geothermal systems and they'll show you more benefits.