A light to a brighter future

<p>It started with a guy in south Ottawa, just trying to save a few bucks on his power bill.</p>


Project Porchlight helps to replace bulbs one at a time



Time Wieclawski/metro ottawa


Stuart Hickox, founder and executive director of Project Porchlight, displays a compact fluorescent light bulb — one of a million that his Ottawa-based organization has now distributed for free since 2005 in a bid to help homeowners lower energy consumption.

It started with a guy in south Ottawa, just trying to save a few bucks on his power bill.

In 2005, while researching energy efficiency online, Stuart Hickox came across a statistic stating that if every home in Canada swapped one incandescent light bulb for a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), it would be the equivalent of taking 66,000 cars of the road in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

So he bought a few CFLs for himself, and handed some to his neighbours. Then he began distributing them outside his neighbourhood and others got involved.

The program grew. It found a name: Project Porchlight. Sponsors got involved. Politicians took up the cause.

Yesterday, Project Porchlight celebrated passing the one-millionth free CFL — and the project is about to expand to other provinces and states.

During a ceremony at the downtown World Exchange Plaza yesterday, Hickox thanked those who helped the program grow so quickly, but reminded people that changing light bulbs was a means, not the end result.

“The only way that we’re going to solve this climate crisis that we face, is if every single person is part of the solution,” he said. “The best way to do that is to start with the simplest, most universal way to get everybody started.”

Over 3,000 volunteers in 150 communities across Canada adopted Project Porchlight.

“This is a real example of the power of people in action,” said Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn, representing the environment minister at the ceremony. “It is important to see change can happen with one little thing like changing a light bulb.”

An early sponsor of the program in Ottawa South was Giant Tiger. The retail chain helped purchase and warehouse the bulbs that Project Porchlight distributed.

“It’s a great project. We really support the philosophy of the campaign,” said Dave Thorpe, of Giant Tiger. “It’s wonderful that so many people have pulled together to help do this.”



  • After successful campaigns in Ontario, Alberta and the Yukon, Project Porchlight will expand to three more provinces and two American states this year.

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