Green and lean: Carbon-neutral home results in $28 February power bill

The Maumenees, who both work at the University of Montana, wanted to live more lightly on the earth, use less energy, pollute less, feel less implicated in climate change.

“We really wanted to reduce our carbon footprint as a family,” said Zia, who has two young sons. “The second part was that we wanted whatever we did to serve as an educational tool, for our kids and others.”

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Emissions rules not so ‘tough’

The Alberta oil sands are the fastest growing sector of the Canadian economy and a major generator of jobs in Western Canada. That, in turn, renders oil-sands development vital to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s western-based Conservative government. But the oil sands are also the largest single source of greenhouse gases in Canada.

The tension between those opposite sides of oil-sands development has created a major predicament for Harper: How to sustain oil-sands growth and, at the same time, meet the target he has set for himself of reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.

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