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Social Housing Services Corporation, GLOBE and Toronto Hydro achieve 2.76 Megawatts in savings in 2008
TORONTO, Dec. 18 /CNW/ - The Social Housing Services Corporation (SHSC) and its subsidiary Green Light on a Better Environment (GLOBE), with support from Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited (Toronto Hydro), have concluded their 2008 conservation and education program to train social housing tenants and community champions in energy conservation. The initiative also included replacing old, incandescent light bulbs in 12,827 social housing units across Toronto, with 57,362 energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). The program is expected to reduce electricity demand by 2.766 MW - equivalent to taking close to 2,000 homes off the grid. It builds on the success of a similar initiative in 2007 when Toronto Hydro, SHSC and GLOBE trained social housing tenants and replaced 20,782 incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. The program is also an opportunity for Toronto Hydro, SHSC and GLOBE to take a proactive approach to educating and engaging residents and staff in activities that help to develop a culture of conservation. With funding from Toronto Hydro, GLOBE worked with Seneca College to deliver a peer-led resident education and engagement program called, "The Community Champion Program". "We are thrilled with these results. Providing CFLs is a simple initiative that creates a bigger opportunity for us to engage residents in a conversation about conservation. When the tenant understands how simple it is to conserve, it often leads to changes in behaviour that further reduce electricity use and help our environment. Since beginning our partnership with SHSC in 2007, we've cut consumption in these social housing units by close to 4 Megawatts," says David O'Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Hydro Corporation. "This is about investing in communities," said Colin Gage, Chair of GLOBE and Vice-Chair of SHSC. "The Community Champion program gives residents an opportunity to learn and truly participate in the sustainability of their community. They get the tools and resources to be part of the solution." The Community Champion Program enables residents to become agents of change in their own communities. Community Champions and housing staff receive energy conservation training, focused on the importance of resident behaviour. Resources, such as presentations, posters, communication tools and an online forum help them promote conservation basics to their fellow social housing communities. Since the program was developed in 2007, 80 social housing organizations and 20 Community Champions have received training on energy conservation. Another 13 Community Champions are currently registered in the program. Ian Heslop, Housing Administrator with Genesis Place Homes said that the training gives more than just great information and tips. "I now feel that the Community Champions know what is involved and are even more enthusiastic about their role." His comments were echoed by Community Champion Lynn Wood, from Richview Residence for Seniors. "I've learned so much, and even though it is hard work, I've truly had fun working on this program. I enjoy having the opportunity to talk to and work with my neighbours. We are all in this together and we have learnt that every little bit of effort counts and is worthwhile." To keep things interesting, Lynn has tried a number of different activities - green-themed activity days, a screening of Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, and contests with prizes from local businesses. She also thinks that her message has a greater impact on other residents when it comes from her. Jane Kuchma, the Executive Director at Richview Residence agrees. "It is one thing for us, as a landlord, to ask residents to change their behaviour. It is quite another when Lynn as a fellow resident, is able to inspire and motivate other residents to change their behaviour. Lynn has done an incredible job." About SHSC The Social Housing Services Corporation (SHSC) is a non-profit corporation that provides innovative services designed to empower social housing providers to develop safe, affordable homes and vibrant sustainable communities. SHSC offers such business-oriented solutions as insurance, investment, gas purchasing, energy management and research, to address the needs of the affordable housing community. About GLOBE Green Light on a Better Environment (GLOBE) is a subsidiary of SHSC. It provides an integrated program of energy audits, support services, resources and education to help social housing providers navigate the world of energy and build a culture of conservation in their communities. About Toronto Hydro-Electric System A wholly-owned subsidiary of Toronto Hydro Corporation, Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited delivers electricity through a complex network of poles, wires and underground structures to 678,000 customers and distributes approximately 18 per cent of the electricity in the province of Ontario. Toronto Hydro Corporation is owned 100 per cent by the City of Toronto.