Tiny Homes, Big Community
December 21 2022, 11:30 AM
Over the past few years, tiny homes have become a popular housing solution around the world. With their lower costs and smaller footprint, these structures are helping to reshape communities. Tiny homes have become a social movement as people look to downsize and live a more sustainable lifestyle.
New Brunswick entrepreneur Marcel LeBrun has registered over 70 tiny homes in the New Home Energy Savings Program and has completed construction on 35 homes as of fall 2022. When Marcel first contacted our efficiency team, we knew this was a special project and we were very excited to be part of it.
"Marcel is a visionary, and these are the types of projects that will help us to reach our goal of cleaner energy for the future," said Lori Clark, President and CEO of NB Power, “we are very proud to partner with Marcel on this development.”
Left to right, 12 Neighbours Community Resident, Marcel LeBrun Founder, and Lori Clark President and CEO of NB Power
Our team gave Marcel energy efficiency kits, advice tailored to the unique energy needs of tiny homes, and $10,000 in incentives for each home. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see this community take shape as a world-class example of what is possible when we create a space with dignified housing, a supportive community, and developmental opportunity. I’m very appreciative of NB Power for their guidance and support through the New Home Energy Savings Program,” said Marcel LeBrun Founder of the 12 Neighbours Community.
The homes are approximately 240 square feet and have a bathroom, a full kitchen including a 2-burner induction stovetop and apartment sized fridge, cathedral ceilings, a covered front deck, and are equipped with energy efficient LED lighting. The new homes are airtight with a thermal envelope that is 105% better than code standards, with excellent ventilation through a heat-recovery ventilator (HRV). Each home has energy efficient features such as rigid insulation, which is one of the best tools to reduce energy costs, and triple glazed windows that reduce noise and deliver greater energy. Homes are equipped with 3.3 kW of solar panels, connecting approximately 30 homes to a 600 Amp service entrance resulting in a large distributed 100 kW solar array across each group of 30 homes, keeping within the Net Metering Policy.
From left to right; Jeffrey St-Pierre, NB Power Technical Energy Advisor, Marcel Lebrun, 12 Neighbours Community Founder and Chairman, and Diane Spencer, NB Power Program Lead inside a tiny home.
Marcel is building more than just tiny homes. He is building a community. Everyone deserves safe, affordable, and permanent housing. Even more special is the vision for this community to see people overcome barriers to living a full and independent life. The community offers supports that help members achieve their personal goals, which may include substance use recovery counselling, opportunities to improve their health and education, and low barrier employment opportunities.
This community was a great opportunity for us at NB Power to learn from the vision of a local entrepreneur. We are very proud to partner with Marcel and are excited to watch this community grow and thrive.
To learn more about the tiny home community visit 12neighbours.com.
From left to right; Diane Spencer, NB Power Program Lead, Jeffrey St-Pierre, NB Power Technical Energy Advisor, and Miles Goff, Technical Energy Advisor in the 12 Neighbours Community.
Saying farewell to our osprey friends
September 15 2022, 08:30 AM
It’s nearing the end of the summer, which means it’s time for many species of birds to make their flight to sunnier skies, including the osprey.
In order to ensure safe, reliable energy to our customers while also keeping osprey populations safe, NB Power follows an Avian Protection Plan (APP). The APP is designed to protect migratory birds by reducing the number of interactions birds make with electrical equipment. This is accomplished by identifying high-traffic osprey areas and modifying our structures with safer parts. The APP also directs maintenance crews on how to avoid and, when necessary, handle active bird nests.
When nests do pose an immediate threat to reliability, biologists at the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development help us take every step to avoid disturbing or destroying a nest while we work to make sure the power stays on. Today, over 300 active nests are found on the electrical system or on platforms installed by NB Power. We continue to work closely with the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development when situations arise where an active nest must be trimmed or relocated to a platform due to safety or reliability concerns.
This past spring, NB Power installed an osprey cam at Hazen Park in Oromocto which features one of these nesting platforms. We have had the pleasure to watch an osprey nest and hatch two eggs and witness two baby osprey grow and flourish in their nest. You can check out the webcam here to say farewell and stay tuned next spring for their return. They’re very active these days, so you may or may not catch a glimpse!
These are just a few examples of how we’ve been working together with New Brunswickers to help preserve our province’s natural beauty for years to come. Click here to visit the Environment section of our website, where you can learn about how we preserve our environment, reduce emissions and help reduce the effects of climate change through energy efficiency.
Efficiency Employee Recognized for Leadership
September 9 2022, 12:43 PM
Diane Spencer, NB Power’s Residential Energy Efficiency Lead, has received the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s (CHBA) biggest accolade: its Hall of Honour Award.
The Hall of Honour Award recognizes a CHBA member’s extraordinary contributions to the Association and/or New Brunswick’s residential construction industry.
The Hall of Honour is usually reserved for past presidents of the CHBA, which makes Diane receiving this honour even more impressive!
While she is passionate about all things energy efficiency now, Diane’s career started in a different part of the energy industry.
Since 2001, Diane has worked at NB Power, having started in Reactor Safety at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. Diane moved into energy efficiency in 2016 as the program lead for residential energy efficiency and runs the Total Home and New Home energy saving programs.
Joining the efficiency team meant a shift from working behind the scenes to a more customer-centric role for Diane. Their team works to help New Brunswickers maximize their energy savings and improve quality of life in the process.
Since 2016, Diane, the energy efficiency team and the CHBA have provided energy efficiency training to builders, energy advisors, heating and ventilation contractors, building officials, real estate agents, and customers in the residential construction industry.
“There has been a remarkable difference working with home builders since Diane entered the picture,” said Claudia Simmonds, Chief Executive Officer of the CHBA’s New Brunswick Branch. “That’s why she was chosen for this award. Because she showed up and just changed the course with her enthusiasm and collaboration.”
Diane, who lives in Saint John with her family, is honoured to receive the award.
“Energy efficiency is good for the environment by reducing energy use, good for the New Brunswickers by reducing their bills and making their homes more comfortable and it’s good for the economy,” said Diane. “I continue to look forward to what we can do together to support each other in advancing the residential energy efficiency for this province. We are making people’s lives better today and for our future generations.”
We are so proud of Diane’s accomplishments throughout her career and can’t wait to see what she does next. Congratulations Diane!
New Brunswickers energized by EVs
August 12 2022, 08:30 AM
Earlier this summer, we partnered with Plug’n Drive to give New Brunswickers a chance to take an electric vehicle (EV) for a spin.
The idea behind our EV Test Drive Tour was simple: giving New Brunswickers in five communities the opportunity to learn from EV drivers in our region and get behind the wheel to experience it first-hand.
The general theme of drivers’ feedback?
For many, the EV Test Drive Tour was their first time getting in an EV, let alone driving one.
There were plenty of EVs to test drive; whether you wanted to cruise in the Tesla Model 3, go for a ride in the Hyundai IONIQ 5 Electric, take a spin in the Volvo XC40 Recharge or drive the Chevrolet Bolt, there was something for everyone.
Beyond the test drives, Plug’n Drive’s Mobile Electric Vehicle Education Trailer was a big attraction with its interactive displays and EV Ambassadors ready to answer EV-related questions.
The tour visited Saint John, Fredericton, Riverview, Bathurst and Grand Falls, spending Thursday to Sunday in each community.
For Luc Roberge and his son Simon in Grand Falls, who took the IONIQ 5 and the XC40 for a drive, found the cars “powerful and quiet” and left them thinking that an EV was in their future.
“The test drive was awesome,” said Luc. “The thing I like the most is you don’t need brakes as much.” This is because electric vehicles use a process known as regenerative braking, which takes the kinetic energy of your vehicle and uses it to slow down. It also means less wear and tear on your brakes and greater stopping power.
In each community there was a great turnout with lots of engagement and questions from interested New Brunswickers who took more than 600 test drives and had lots of positive comments about the experience.
Sarah Sherman is a proud EV owner from Fosterville, NB. She enjoyed connecting with New Brunswickers at test drives in Fredericton and Riverview as one of Plug’n Drive’s local EV ambassadors and would be thrilled to do it again in the future.
“These events were a really great way to help dispel myths and misconceptions about EVs and learn more as a new EV owner myself,” said Sarah. “At one event there was a couple who were split on whether to get an EV. By the time they left, they were both converted and were going to find one to order. Another fellow was so impressed, he and his wife came back four times in one day and placed an order for the Chevy Bolt the same day!”
NB Power employees joined the tour every weekend to share information about the eCharge Network and New Brunswick’s electric vehicle rebate program, Plug-In NB.
The test drive tour was hosted by generous local site owners. The successful events were made possible with the support of TD Station, the Capital Exhibit Centre, Sobeys Riverview, the Atlantic Host Inn and the Centre E.&P. Sénéchal Center.
We’re thrilled by the positive response to the tour and hope to do more events like this in the future. The future is electric!
Indigenous employee shares her talent with New Brunswickers
June 21 2022, 10:02 AM
What started as curiosity about traditional First Nations drumming and singing has led Krista Paul to adventures she never expected.
Krista has been a member of the Corporate Communications team since spring 2021 and is a proud member of the St. Mary’s First Nation.
Her traditional Maliseet name is Mehkwekek Wissekonosotowi-ehpit, which means Red Shawl Woman. And in 2016, she founded Pokəholakənəl Witsehkehsolticik - Sisters of the Drum, an all women Maliseet drumming group.
“When I saw older women passionately singing and drumming for the first time, I was in awe,” Krista said. “I knew I wanted to be part of that, but I was definitely not a singer!”
After spending some time looking for a group to join, in 2016 Krista put out a call on Facebook to see if other local women were interested in starting a group. She was surprised when 27 women of all ages showed up. Some knew Maliseet well, and others only knew a few phrases.
They began to meet weekly and teaching themselves songs with the help of CDs and lots of patience. They would listen to songs by artists like Elder Dr. Maggie Paul and the Negootgook Drummers from Tobique over and over, replicating the sounds and rhythm.
The drum represents the heartbeat of a mother. Krista says that’s why you feel so connected and emotional when you hear it – you’re brought back to your mother’s womb. The circular shape of the drum represents interconnectedness to one another, and the cedar hoop and animal skin is indicative of First Nations connection to the land and animals. Krista now owns four drums, including one made by her sister in a cultural course. The material used creates different sounds based on thickness – from elk to deer and moose.
The group kept practicing, growing more confident and connected. The first time they performed in public was 2017 at the Take Back the Night event in Fredericton. The event is part of a global movement to stand up against sexual violence – a cause that Krista is particularly passionate about.
“Violence against women, especially Aboriginal women, is something that we cannot allow to continue,” said Krista. “Marching in the streets with other women, singing our hearts out with our drums, was a magical experience.”
From there, word quickly spread about Pokəholakənəl Witsehkehsolticik, leading them to many performance opportunities, from funerals to large scale events.
Since the group started performing, they’ve had some major highlights, including
- opening the 2017 State of the Province Address
- being nominated for the Indigenous Artist of the Year at the Music NB Awards in 2022
- participating in Drums Across Canada 2021, which was live streamed from five communities
- performing at the Wolastoq Treaty Day 2022 event
- singing with Jeremy Dutcher at the Atlantic Ballet’s celebration of 20 years of dance
Krista said the support and fanfare has been surprising and thrilling. She especially loves interacting with children to share her culture and excite them about music. She never expected when the group started that she and her sister would become role models and community leaders.
“Our group is proof that when a group of women put their minds together, they can achieve anything,” said Krista. “We’ve become sisters and are more connected to our culture - from language and history to tradition and song. Drumming has given me the opportunity to find a place where I belong. It’s humbling and so rewarding.”