A Mi’kmaw community in New Brunswick has committed to reducing its carbon footprint by building a net-zero emission building.
The new building in Natoaganeg, 118 kilometres north of Moncton, will serve as the community’s child and family services headquarters. The 4,200 square foot structure comes with a four panel 50,000 kilowatt solar energy field, an emergency generator, triple paned windows, insulated concrete form and an automated light system.
Chief George Ginnish said it’s all an effort to give kids in his community a brighter future.
“Our kids shouldn’t have second rate — they should be experiencing top quality facilities and now we have that in three areas, and we’re pretty proud of that,” said Ginnish.
He said last year solar panels were installed on the roofs of the community school and headstart program building.
Ginnish said he hopes it inspires the youth to learn more about green energy and climate change. He said the energy saving projects can help free up $15,000 annually from the utility bills and those savings can go to elder and youth programming.
“Reducing our footprint, going green as much as we can and saving resources while were at, it just makes sense,” said Ginnish.
The new building cost around $1.8 million with $300,000 of those funds going toward the energy efficiency upgrades.
He said the community had to turn to multiple partners to finance the green energy projects, like Indigenous Services Canada, the North Shore Micmac District Council and Mi’gmawe’l Tplutaqnn Inc. Ginnish said other Indigenous communities hoping to go green may have to do the same.
Tyler Patles, a community councillor and director of technical services for North Shore Micmac District Council, said the net-zero building is something he is truly proud of because he and another man, Kevin Woods, helped design the building in the spring of 2021.
“I’m excited for the building to be open,” said Patles.
He said they broke ground on the project late last year and hope to complete the building in the next couple of weeks. Patles said they are still waiting on a few components to finish the project, including a solar panel meter from NB Power.
The utility company confirmed the meter should arrive next week and said it had an excellent working relationship with First Nations communities on solar and wind power projects.
“We have a team of First Nations workers and liaisons at NB Power who do an outstanding job with First Nations communities and programs for their communities across N.B.,” said Marc Belliveau, spokesperson for NB Power, in an emailed statement to CBC News.
Patles said NSMDC also helped Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation build a net zero building.
Patles and Ginnish say their community will continue to look for ways to reduce its carbon footprint and may explore wind power in the future.