Toronto, ON, Canada – Oct. 19, 2010 - Fighting climate change and reducing our society’s carbon emissions is an economic challenge more than a technical one, says green entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author Tom Rand. “It’s a myth that we need fossil fuels. What we need are massive investments in clean infrastructure. And we need to link economic competitiveness with energy efficiency,” adds Rand, the author of the recently released Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: Ten Clean Technologies to Save Our World.
“Climate change is both the biggest problem and the biggest opportunity our society has faced,” says Rand. “I believe we can lower our carbon emissions by 75 per cent over the short term, and to near zero over the long term. Countries that figure it out fast will be selling solutions to the rest of the world.”
In his book, Rand argues that as a society we do have the option to kick our fossil fuel habit altogether by focusing on the development and adoption of clean technologies that will make it possible. As much a compelling visual primer as a thoughtful exploration of the subject of climate change and how to fight it, Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit is a 10″ x 10″ hardcover and available at bookstores across Canada including Indigo and Chapters. It is published by Eco Ten Publishing Inc.
Opening the doors of his latest initiative, Planet Traveler, a new, best-in-class 114-bed hostel in downtown Toronto which he co-developed with partner Anthony Aarts, Rand illustrates his point with a real-life, real-time example – the fully geo-thermally heated and cooled building itself. Using the development of the property as a “test lab”, Rand approached the project as a challenge to reduce the building’s energy consumption by 75 per cent.
All decisions with respect to renovating and retrofitting the 19th century building on College Street were based on an economic argument alone. Rand only considered technologies that would deliver a solution in economic terms, testing them to determine whether they would be worthy of investment.
Do we need fossil fuels? No, says Rand. And I challenge anyone to prove it.
According to Rand, the formula is simple, the goal is achievable and results are within reach: for example, by leveraging 5 per cent of Planet Traveler’s capital to install clean technologies, the building’s energy emissions will be reduced by 75 per cent. “Linking profitability with carbon reduction is essential,” Rand says. “It’s in every business owner’s best economic interest to do so,” he adds.
“Energy efficiency is about economic competitiveness,” says Rand. “Germany and Japan are twice as efficient in using energy to produce money than we are. We waste half the energy we use. We could cut our energy use in half and still have the same lifestyle.”
“In terms of energy production, it’s entirely possible to run our economy on clean, carbon-free energy,” says Rand. “But we need to invest at levels we normally see for fossil fuel development. That’s apples-to-apples, and only then will we see clean energy perform at similar cost and reliability.”
Tom Rand who is founder and director of VCi Green Funds, a seed and venture capital fund in the low-carbon sector, is also Cleantech Practice Lead Advisor at MaRS Discovery District, helping the next generation of Canadian Cleantech companies grow to global leadership.
About Planet Traveler
Planet Traveler is North America’s ‘greenest’ hotel. By ‘green’ we don’t mean recycled toilet paper or organic granola for breakfast – Planet Traveler is a showcase ‘green’ building that far exceeds standard measurements of energy efficiency. Surpassing LEED Platinum, Planet Traveler’s environmental profile is exceptional – its carbon emissions have been lowered by more than three-quarters.
As a new, best-in-class 114-bed hostel for design-minded travelers and urban adventurers, Planet Traveler has been built to the standards of a boutique hotel. Creature comforts have not been sacrificed for the sake of carbon reduction. The rooftop bar and deck, with its wraparound view of the city’s skyline, sits atop four floors of stylishly appointed rooms, both shared and private. The workhorse of the operation is a groundbreaking geothermal heating and cooling system – the first of its kind to be buried in City-owned property. Solar panels provide both shade and energy for patrons, wastewater heat is recycled, and cool LEDs light up the building for less energy than is used by a four-slice toaster.