Rona Home and Garden's Coal-Spewing Ways

Left: Home Depot’s modern, efficient lighting.  Right: Rona’s wasteful, antiquated lighting.

One of the hardest things about being aware and concerned about the environmental crisis is witnessing how many profitable planet-saving measures are ignored. Take lighting. Investments in new lighting technology can often pay themselves off in two years or less.

That’s why I’m frustrated with the approach taken by Rona Home and Garden. Rona’s President and CEO Robert Dutton recently claimed that “at RONA, we are committed to sustainable development from a social, economic and environmental perspective. This includes making a difference in Canadian communities…” (source).

And yet Rona store at 10450-42nd Avenue is wasting huge amounts of polluting electricity and money by lighting with 1960s-era technology. And that hurts my Canadian community.

Rona’s Dirty Old Technology

I did a walk-through recently, and came up with the following estimate of the 42nd Avenue store’s electricity use from lighting. This estimate is almost certainly biased in Rona’s favour because there is much information that I don’t know, so I’ve given Rona the benefit of the doubt as much as possible:

  • I estimate that there are about 500 metal halide lamps (lights) in the 42nd Ave. store (see above, right).
  • They consume, conservatively speaking, 320 Watts each (it could be as high as 460 Watts, but I can’t tell from visual observation alone).
  • These 500 lamps, assuming that they’ve been in service for 10,000 hours, consume about 160,000 Watts when turned on

On the other hand..

The efficient lighting used at, say, Home Depot’s 6725-104 Street store (pictured above at left),  could provide the same amount of light at a burn rate of 129,000 Watts.

Assuming that Rona has its lights on one hour before and one hour after closing, its lights are turned on for about 113 hours/week (source). If it updated to modern lighting, the Rona store on 42nd Avenue could save 3503 kWh per week, worth about $350. In case you’re counting, that’s 182,156 kWh and $18,216 per year.

Given that a kWh of electricity in Alberta is responsible for about 1 kg of carbon dioxide, Rona could therefore reduce the emissions of their store by 182 metric tonnes per year of CO2, while saving money in the process. It would be like taking 35 cars off the road for good.

Until Rona cleans up its act (in a profitable venture, I might add), its green claims will continue to ring hollow. Come on Rona Home and Garden! Do Edmonton and yourself a favour. Stop your polluting ways.

Note: My information comes from a contact that I have in the lighting industry. I believe that it is biased in Rona’s favour, and does not include factors such as motion sensors and variable lighting modes that could be incorporated with new technology.

Not Ralph Klein's Alberta Anymore


Last year we took possession of a new home that surpassed an energy rating of Energuide 86. Because of that, Climate Change Central, an arms-length government organization, mailed us a $10,000 cheque.

What we really need is a carbon tax. Economists (the good kind) and environmentalists agree, putting a price on carbon is the simplest, most effective way of changing people’s earth-destroying ways. And I don’t buy the argument that Stephane Dion’s doomed election campaign proved that Canadians don’t want a carbon tax. The nerdiest, least competent Liberal leader in a generation lost that campaign for reasons other than his Green Shift idea.

Since a carbon tax is a political hot potato right now, one behaviour-changing alternative is the green subsidy. I have to give the Progressive Conservatives credit, this is no longer Ralph Klein’s Alberta. Stelmach’s government recently enacted an excellent net metering policy, and they also introduced the new home rebate policy.

With the right builder, we estimate that the incremental cost to building a house to meet Energuide 86, which would include excellent windows (triple-pane, low-e coating, insulating spaces, etc.), at least R40 walls, R60 in the ceiling, and a very tightly-sealed envelope, is $20,000-$25,000. With the $10,000 incentive, that cost is now ridiculously low.

Build a house that is extremely cheap to heat, much more comfortable in the winter, and cool in the summer. And get paid ten grand to do it - it’s a no-brainer.

Climate Change Central has another three years of funding in place (it may be extended beyond that time). Ask your builder to save you $10,000 today. If your builder can’t build an Energuide 86 house, find another one.

Green Edmonton Businesses

I’ve been contacted by a few green businesses lately. While I haven’t directly experienced these businesses myself, they sound sincere enough that I’m willing to give them some exposure. Please leave your comments on any dealings with them.


Maximum Impact Renovations


“My husband and I have just started a renovation business that specializes in environmentally-friendly kitchen and bath renos.

Our business is run out of our home, and we endeavor not only to installing eco-friendly products, but we also try as much as possible to use sustainable business practices. For example, my husband (a Red Seal Journeyman plumber) was appalled at how much garbage the construction industry (especially new home construction) contributes to landfills. In the past two years, he has committed to recycling or repurposing all packing materials (i.e., cardboard, plastics, wood) from his job sites. In fact, last year he built shelves in our garage, entirely out of wood that he diverted from the dump!

We have also committed to sourcing as much of our products from post-consumer recyled material as possible. It might cost more to print on recycled paper and purchase bamboo T-shirts, but we consider it a good investment in the environment. If you're interested in writing a blog entry about sustainable business practices, please feel free to give us a shout. We'd love to participate!

Josephine Lamy,


Good Earth Coffeehouse and Bakery


Hi we just opened a family run cafe on the south side of Edmonton called Good Earth Coffeehouse and Bakery @ the market at Summerside.

With personal views that are in line with your organization with Sustainability, Environmental Responsibility, on the forefront of my opinions and actions making choice like using Bullfrog to Power my cafe, doing planters that are edible, using recycled wood furniture, and supporting local companies where possible such as Alberta Coffee Roasters and Beef Farmers.

I wanted to offer that if you ever wanted to display any materials on our bulletin board or need support to please feel free to contact us. .


 LED Ligths Canada



HI, I wanted to introduce myself and my company to you. I stock and sell LED lighting in Edmonton. I spent years as a kitchen renovator and began using LED lights in my renos years ago when they were very hard to find. I have now moved full-time into promoting LED lighting and would like to be represented on your site. There is a link on the site you might be interested in called "The Total LED Kitchen". Harvey

Yard Food Day 2010

As you know, Yard Food Day is a traditional post in honour of the first day that I eat something that is growing in my back yard, and in 2010, it is April 18th.

I've noticed that my chive plant has been growing for a few days now, and so technically, Yard Food Day could've been an omelet with some chives a few days ago, but that didn't happen.

Weedgeekery is shifting. Circa 1995, when Toxics Watch ran its "Lion's Tooth Festival" to celebrate the much maligned dandelion, there were few resources describing the uses of this valuable plant.

But today, there seem to be weedgeeks in the mainstream. My lunch recipe today was published in the April 7th, 2010 edition of the Globe & Mail's Food & Wine section: Salad of dandelion greens, pancetta and boiled eggs, a dish served at Montreal's Toque restaurant.

A quick ellipse.

At the 2009 Annual General Assembly of the Canadian Environmental Network, one of the presenters was local permaculture expert, Ron Berezan, who presented on the idea of no-till gardening. To help build up poor backyard soils, the no-till gardener applies layers of newspapers, leaves, and fall garden detritus to the yard to rapidly build up organic matter. I understand the initial layer of newspaper is supposed to suppress weed growth.

Of course, weedgeeks don't suppress their weed growth, so I left the newspaper part out.
The consequence of this omission is that what appeared to be ordinary, young dandelion plants growing atop a layer of leaves actually had 2 or 3 inches of sweet, tender, light-starved mid-ribs growing beneath them. Once picked, these plants resembled a true vegetable, kind of like a thin bok choy.

Notice the length of white underleaf in these plants: 
Compared to these which were growing directly out of the soil: 

My version of the Toque hot dandelion, pancetta and egg salad turned out like this:  read more... »