Sustainability starts at home
Every graduation, celebration or Oprah special tends to hammer home a common point: ‘the world is in our oyster,’ Sure, it may feel a little overused at times, but it is used so frequently for a good reason – it’s true.
There are many problems present in today’s society that our generation will be tasked with solving – poverty, war, economic deficits and global warming to name a few – that all seem overwhelming to take in and unrealistic to solve. But, some of these challenges are not as out of reach as they seem. We have the power to make a difference through small actions and incremental changes such as re-considering the way we use energy.
Dave Braden, a homebuilder, environmentalist, candidate in the most recent federal election and energy innovation enthusiast says taking on these tasks is more than doable.
“We are going to change this world for the better,” says Braden. “There is no mystery to what needs to be done and what is being done.”
Braden is a well-known member of the Hamilton community whose business, Braden Homes, has developed some of the most energy-efficient homes in Canada.
Along with his own home, Braden has developed many other properties and is currently working to build 4 of the most energy efficient townhouses in the country within the next year.
As a noted professional in the field of energy conservation, Braden’s primary interest is not only in developing homes, but also in sparking the interest among today’s youth to continue his efforts and pursue finding a way to help the earth while we can.
“I want young people who are interested in making a difference to know that there are other people who are helping make this change happen.
I want to provide them with some practical examples of why there is hope that we can fix the problem of energy being very expensive and the fact that the use of this energy is causing a lot of trouble,” explains Braden.
As a life-long learner, after becoming a planner as well as a certified builder and developer, Braden continued to pursue his education during the 1990s at the University of Waterloo.
Although many modern-day schools like Waterloo had a strong academic centre, he couldn’t help but notice an imbalance between what was being taught at the school and what was actually being done.
“There was a real emphasis on academia, thought and research, and very little emphasis on making things happen,” notes Braden.
As a student here at McMaster, I can’t help but notice that the same imbalance is sometimes present in our own community. It is more than reasonable to say that our school offers an outstanding range of academic programs, extra-curricular options and is known internationally as one of the best places to receive an education, but there are still many little steps that we can take to help make our school and our community an environmentally conscious setting.
We are taught in school to go out and make a difference and to pursue new innovations and ideas. And with this in mind many students do often discuss the possibility of implementing changes to our energy choices and access to green technology, but these plans only follow through on rare occasions.
Braden believes that “what university communities need to do is to really take charge and not see themselves strictly as an academic institution but as an institution that has a commitment, a real commitment, to making a change.”
Based on the ideas that have been put forth by students past and present – such as a green roof initiatives and a residence-wide energy challenge – there definitely is a budding interest in making a healthy change to our energy sources and ideas on conservation.
“Thought, understanding, and implementation,” are the three steps Braden explains to be essential in making a change.
Since this interest does exist, the next step in actually producing action and achieving a notable outcome is to inform the student body of what is going on and pursue the task from there.
An idea is great, but there is no way of making it reality without a group of people who are willing to go out and take hands-on action to make it happen.
“We really are not getting this emphasis anywhere across Canada and definitely not from the city,” explains Braden, a longstanding Hamilton councillor, who says the federal government does not focus primarily on finding greener alternatives.
“For those that put [the environment] off, I don’t think we are going to have a choice.
Quite simply, your generation is going to have to solve this one,” states Braden.
“You really can do this,” says Braden whose own teenage interest in the environment led him to develop his business.
“I would love to see McMaster along with other schools move forward with their goals in this field,” he explains.
It is time to turn talk into action and pursue making a change. We need to get involved with what is going on in our communities and use what is being taught and said to implement change.