Bridgewater wins $5 million Smart Cities Challenge
On May 14, 2019, Bridgewater was declared the winner of the competition in the $5 million prize category, beating out 49 other communities. Bridgewater’s winning idea aims to reduce energy poverty in our community. Living in energy poverty means not being able to afford enough energy to heat and power one’s home, or fuel for transportation. It is a serious problem that affects about 2 out of every 5 residents in Bridgewater. The jury felt that Bridgewater’s idea would make a big difference in people’s lives and reduce poverty in the community. It could also be copied by other communities that want to follow in Bridgewater’s footsteps.
Bridgewater’s 5-minute Smart Cities Challenge Video Pitch
Bridgewater’s Vision for a Smart Community
What is Bridgewater planning on doing with its $5 million prize?
The prize will allow Bridgewater to lift many of its residents out of energy poverty. It will do this by:
Making homes more energy efficient: we will hire a team of experts who will help residents and property owners to make your homes highly energy efficient and to install renewable energy systems, for example by adding insulation, smart thermostats, heat pumps, and solar panels. They will help residents and property owners find grant funding or loans to pay for these upgrades. The team will also take care of getting the work done by hiring good contractors and making sure that the work is done well. They will pay particular attention to older homes and apartment buildings, and as well as the needs of lower-income residents.
Helping you own and sell your own renewable energy: rooftop solar and ‘solar farms’ within which residents will be able to own solar panels that will provide you with income.
Setting up an “energy management information system”: to help home owners and businesses across the community plan energy upgrades, and make sure that you actually save energy and money as promised.
Making transportation cheaper and more accessible for everyone: improving Bridgewater’s bus service, and making streets and trails safer and more walkable for everyone.
Setting up a local energy investment program: so residents and businesses can make financial investments in the community’s energy projects and earn income from those investments.
Improving community services: better connecting residents who experience energy poverty with the community services (health, education, social services, etc.).
When can I start using the program?
If you own your home and would like to explore affordable energy upgrades today, our Clean Energy Financing program can already help with that! www.CleanEnergyFinancing.ca / (844) 727-7818 (toll free). Efficiency Nova Scotia also offers programs and rebates for homes, apartment buildings, and businesses. www.efficiencyns.ca / (877) 999-6035 (toll free).
The full Energy Poverty Reduction Program will take more time to set up properly – we will likely start taking applications in 2020 or 2021. That’s a long wait for people who need this help today. But help is already available – in the form of community support, emergency fuel funds, free home energy upgrades, and other solutions. The Town is already working with community partners to better connect residents to these existing services. More information will be available later in 2019.
Energize Bridgewater Magazine
Read about the latest in sustainability in Bridgewater including the Smart Cities Challenge, Bridgewater transit, and more. Click on a cover page to read:
Youth Video Team: Living in Energy Poverty Documentary
A team of young people from Bridgewater spent four months capturing the stories of residents who struggle to pay for housing, energy bills, and transportation. Living in Energy Poverty shares these stories so they can be heard by the wider community. The full documentary is now streaming on the Town of Bridgewater ‘s Youtube channel. This project was a collaboration between HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development , Picnic Studios , and the Lunenburg District Office, Community Services. The young adult film production team, Starling Studios, was assembled, trained and supported by these partners, so the team would have the skills they required to create the documentary.
Community Energy Investment Plan
Energize Bridgewater is a community-wide initiative to accelerate the transition of our community into a “clean energy economy”. Started in 2016, the initiative has resulted in practical energy demonstration projects, innovative new partnerships, and new knowledge and skills. Through this initiative, the Town of Bridgewater and its network of Energy Partners are engaging a broad cross-section of the community to achieve these ambitious goals by taking concrete action on innovative energy solutions. This bold initiative is proving to be unique not only in Nova Scotia but across Canada.
The community’s shared vision and commitments have been recorded in the Community Energy Investment Plan that has mapped out an economically-viable pathway toward a clean local energy economy, and recommends practical financial tools that will make energy solutions more affordable for residents, businesses, and organizations. Read the 1-page story of Bridgewater’s “Energy Shift”. Or, you can download the full Plan here: