eMERGE Guelph is a local not-for-profit focused on sustainability and community engagement. As an organization they approach these topics through three program pathways: eMERGE Homes, Streets and Neighbourhoods – each taking a close look at energy, water, transportation, food and waste. These pathways are made easy through three distinct programs: Transition Streets, Project Neutral, and Efficient Home Visits.
eMERGE has been gathering neighbours together through Transition Streets, an award winning program initiated in the UK, whose success has seen it spread to various countries around the world. Transition Streets acts as a gathering point for conversations around neighbourhood resilience, where neighbours congregate around food and drink. eMERGE completed a pilot phase of Transition Streets earlier this year and is looking forward to rolling it out on a grand scale moving forward.
More recently, Guelph became the first city outside of Toronto to host Project Neutral. The program that was launched October 1st allows all residents to calculate their carbon footprint, compare with their neighbours and create an action plan. It is predicated on the idea that what gets measured gets managed.
Project Neutral began in Toronto in 2011. Since that time, the average Project Neutral participant cut their carbon footprint by about 5 tonnes, an energy savings equivalent of approximately $500 per year for each household, and taking one car off the road for each participant. In the coming year, eMERGE is excited to engage schools across Guelph to compete head-to-head in a Project Neutral challenge that hopes to develop the conversation around sustainability in Guelph.
Finally, thanks to residents across Guelph, eMERGE’s Efficient Home Visits program reached a 300 household milestone ahead of schedule in just over 10 months. The popularity of the program has led eMERGE to recently expand the programs scope to now include residents of Rockwood. As eMERGE’s flagship program, Efficient Home Visits, has connected homeowners across the city with a trained advisor who help residents understand their energy bills, suggesting various actions they can take to conserve energy, water, and of course, save money, while maintaining a level of comfort they have become accustomed to.
While programs like Transition Streets, Project Neutral and Efficient Home Visits are gaining popularity, it is fairly unique to Guelph to have such a variety of programming available to all residents, and all free of charge.
While selling sustainability to the average homeowner can be a tough, eMERGE contends that there is something in it for everyone. It’s good for business and the local economy. It’s good for personal and environmental health. It’s a way to connect to your neighbours and surrounding community. It can also be good to your wallet and bank account.
The prevailing sentiment at eMERGE is “what’s good for us is good for Guelph”. For eMERGE it has been a banner year, the success of which is shared with their many sponsors, partners, and everyone who has taken part their programs.
For more information on eMERGE programs or to get involved see eMERGE’s website at www.emergeguelph.ca