People & Culture

Canadian Geographic’s Live Net Zero challenge returns for its second year

Eight families are competing in six themed challenges aimed at reducing their household carbon emissions with the hopes of winning a $50,000 grand prize

  • Sep 18, 2023
  • 543 words
  • 3 minutes
Now in its second year, Canadian Geographic’s Live Net Zero competition challenges families to reduce their carbon footprint for a chance to win $50,000. (Photo: Shutterstock)
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September is a month of new beginnings. With summer coming to a close, many Canadians are beginning to transition to different routines, such as returning to the classroom, commencing a new career, or setting personal goals. It’s a month of inspiration and renewed motivation, with new opportunities, challenges, resolutions and habits taking shape. 

That’s why September is the perfect time to re-introduce Canadian Geographic and Shell’s Live Net Zero initiative. The second year of this national challenge, designed to encourage Canadians to reduce their household emissions, will follow eight families from across Canada as they compete in six themed challenges – each lasting two weeks – with the opportunity to win $50,000. 

Through the commuting challenge, home envelope challenge, heating and cooling challenge, electricity challenge and holiday challenge, the families will identify their greatest sources of emissions and make retrofits and behavioural changes to lower them. A “home improvement” challenge, centred around research, evaluation and planning for more substantial carbon reductions, will also run concurrently across all the other themed challenges.

With more than 25 per cent of Canada’s total carbon emissions coming from household energy use, reaching the federal government’s aggressive climate target of net zero emissions by 2050 will require citizens to make carbon reductions at the household level. 

The families

In the 2022 pilot year, five families from Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta worked to lower their emissions while competing for the grand prize. The Loewen-Nair family’s dedication to decarbonizing their lives was so impressive that the family of four from London, Ont. were chosen by a panel of judges as Live Net Zero’s first-ever winners. From moving downtown to embrace a ‘15-minute city’ lifestyle, where most of their daily necessities can be easily reached by a short walk or bike ride, to acquiring an energy-efficient heat pump, the family fully embraced what it means to live net zero. 

This year, the competition is welcoming eight families from Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia:

  • The Waddell-Shankland household from Windsor, Ont.
  • The Proulx-Coll household from Montréal
  • The Reid household from Dundas, Ont.
  • The DePape-Rodrigues household from Winnipeg
  • The Marsh household from Etobicoke, Ont. 
  • The MacInnis-Boudreau household from Dartmouth, N.S.
  • The Foreman household from Hanwell, N.B.
  • The Shannon household from Airdrie, Alta.

Equipped with $5,000 each to kickstart the process, the families will also have access to energy efficiency experts from Lightspark to help them navigate their journey toward net zero. They will also be documenting their efforts on social media along the way to share the tips and tricks they’ve learned about how to live more sustainably. 

Though most Canadians understand the need to reduce their carbon footprint, it can be challenging to know where to start. But with a new Live Net Zero challenge underway, it’s easier than ever to get inspired. What better time to make changes in your life than now? 

Stay up-to-date with our competing families through our Live Net Zero page or @cangeo on Instagram.

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