3 Days to 2018 – Fair Trade Coffee and Passive Houses

20 years ago I joined a random group of people calling themselves the Vancouver Fair Trade Coffee Network. Our goal was to educate coffee drinkers and purveyors of the value of fair trade coffee, as a way of changing the world from the ground up.

Being a huge fan of hot chocolate, my personal goal was for the fair trade coffee success to generate a spin-off movement for fair trade hot chocolate. That’s been slower than coffee, I get that. I don’t drink that bean so I haven’t benefited from the citizen-led movement, but I know millions have around the world. These days it’s hard to find coffee that isn’t fair trade and usually organic and shade-grown, whatever that means. 🙂

It’s time now, however, to turn similar environmental activism to fixing our municipal building codes, including to follow France by mandating all roofs to be green [solar or plants]. Why aren’t all new homes in Vancouver, heck in BC!, mandated to be passive houses?

Passive House gets character in Vancouver

Read that blog piece above. We’re STARTING to make our way TOWARDS passive houses. What, do we need to study it more? Does it need scientific verification? Do we need a real estate developer to see the light and push it for council to act? No, no, no.

We need people like the Vancouver Fair Trade Coffee Network to start guilting municipalities to fix their climate-useless building codes to fix everything going forward. And the guilting actually happens in reverse at the start: it’s about finding a champion mayor or councilor, or 6, leading into BC’s municipal elections in 10 months. The guilt comes later. 😉

But here’s a tip. Don’t start with Vancouver. Or Burnaby. Neither is terribly progressive when it comes to carbon footprint awareness compared to the lucre of property tax increases from renovictions and increasing density at the expense of affordable housing.

Find a progressive municipality with smart leaders and staff. Some medium sized ones can get it moving. Then the larger ones will feel the shame of not being leaders. Then ONE larger municipality will join and claim to be a leader, which is fine. Then it goes to the Union of BC Municipalities to push the provincial government to amend the Community and Vancouver Charters.

We could just start with the provincial government, but they’ve shown their capacity for real change is actually regressive after they approved the deeply offensive Site C dam.

I don’t know nearly enough about passive homes and municipal building codes to get this done. But I’m no fool. I can read. I can learn. And just like I don’t drink coffee, I knew 20 years ago that fair trade coffee should be the standard. I also read everything there was to read about straw bale homes on the internet 20 years ago. That was too ahead of its time for a not very green Vancouver.

And if you know about passive homes or building codes or actually progressive developers, we need to have a conversation. 🙂

Because my home isn’t a passive home, I know my next one will be. It will also be off the grid and a net exporter of electricity on a neighbourhood communal car-charging grid. Don’t ask me how just yet. But when it’s time, it’s time.

In the meantime, I’m rolling up my sleeves, looking for a good reading list, and some co-conspirators to find our first half dozen municipalities who also know they need passive houses to be part of their building codes. Because France. [BTW, France has also banned students from having cell phones in school and mandated arts education for all, just going to leave that here. While I consider restoring and enhancing my facility with the French language because my next home? It may be have to be in France.]

So let’s make 2018 the year when we make municipal building codes work for us!

And while straw bale homes make not make my lifeplan, a passive house does, including maybe one that floats: