Edmonton’s BrightNights goes green

Holiday Light Up!Ever since the BrightNights festival opened for the year on November 22nd in Hawrelak Park, I’ve been meaning to write about it. Not because I love it and am keen to promote it, but for quite the opposite reason actually. I attended back in 2006, and came away unimpressed. I’ve got two major issues with the event – it’s relatively expensive and it’s terrible for the environment. Or at least it was.

This year, the organizers went with a “green theme” to make the 2008 edition of the festival the most environmentally friendly ever (didn’t you know green is the new black!). I noticed a video on the Edmonton.ca site recently talking about the improvements and changes (unfortunately they don’t use permalinks so I can’t link to the video) and took some notes:

  • BrightNights is operated as a not-for-profit.
  • The drive-through lights display runs from November 21st until January 4th, and covers 2.5 km of road.
  • Food Bank donations are encouraged, and any extra funds go to the hot lunch program.
  • The goal this year is to be carbon neutral. They’ve purchased carbon credits to offset emissions from both the power used in the park and from vehicles driving through.
  • All the lights are on timers this year, to avoid human error of forgetting to shut them off. Also, the hours of operation have been reduced from 6 per day to 5.
  • Enmax has joined as a sponsor for three years, and is working to ensure energy consumption is powered by wind.

The website also mentions high-efficiency lighting and certified forestry managed paper for marketing materials. Additionally, BrightNights has teamed up with Climate Change Central to help educate Edmontonians about going green at home.

Apparently the cost has gone up from $15 per vehicle to $20, so the event hasn’t become any more affordable. I’m not sure what kinds of displays they have, but I suspect it is similar to previous years.

Even though I’m still not that excited about BrightNights, I am quite happy to see the changes they’ve made to become more environmentally friendly. The City of Edmonton hopes to have a number of events operating green within three years, and BrightNights is just the first. I hope more festivals and events in Edmonton follow suit.

6 thoughts on “Edmonton’s BrightNights goes green

  1. How do you feel though about the actually things they’ve done to make it ‘green’? They all seem kind of silly and un-impressive to me…

    Carbon Credits – of questionable use on the best of days
    Timers – to avoid human error? wtf?
    15% drop in hours – that makes sense

    The only one that makes major sense is switching to LED based lights, if they’ve done that in a major way, because we’re talking 95% drop in energy usage.

    With regards to the price, I don’t think it’s that bad. 1 car = 4-5 people = $4-5 per person, which isn’t bad imho. Now if there’s only two of you in the car… well, you’re silly lol

  2. I went to BrightNights for the first time ever this year. I thought $20 was a bit steep, but the displays were beautiful. As far as the “carbon neutral” aspect goes, I think the fact you have to use a car (except on the first night) offsets anything else the event is doing to be environmentally friendly.

  3. Rob – I think the things they’ve done to make it green are quite good. Nothing to be sneezed at anyway! Nice analysis, btw.

    Paula – my understanding is the carbon credits are supposed to take into account the emissions from all the vehicles too.

  4. I pretty much agree with Rob’s comment above.

    I’m also quite unimpressed with Bright Nights. I will likely go this year before it shuts down (gotta go soon, I guess), but only because Sara and I were given a free pass by a friend who works for Climate Change Central.

    In my opinion $20 (or $5-10 per person, depending on how many are in your vehicle) is very steep to drive around looking at displays which, for the most part, are thinly veiled (and in some cases not-at-all-veiled) corporate advertisements. Plus, whoever is driving is usually too busy trying not to rear-end the car in front of them to actually enjoy the lights.

    I’d much rather take a free walk around the Legislature grounds with a thermos of coffee and good company than drive through Hawrelak. In fact, had it not been so damn cold for the past few weeks, I’d have done just that.

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