MONTREAL — The answer, my friends, really is blowing in the wind.The Biosphere celebrates Earth Day this Sunday with a free admission open house weekend. The theme, titled "There's Electricity in the Air," highlights the nature museum's new on-site wind turbines with guided tours and demonstrations."We just installed two wind turbines here at the Biosphere in late March. They're brand-spanking new," said René Brunet, a meteorologist and the Biosphere's current head of education and public services. Brunet has also attended Al Gore's Climate Project conference and now visits local schools to speak about climate change. The turbines are located on the Biosphere's fourth-floor outdoor platform."One is the horizontal type, the classic three-arm wind turbine," Brunet said. "It's located inside the sphere, but you can see it when you're walking from the métro station."The other turbine is a vertical model."These look like the device that ventilates an attic that are found on the roofs of houses."Brunet says that in the very near future, both turbines will indeed supply some energy to the Biosphere."The whole point of the weekend is to show people the technology up close and personal," Brunet said.Brunet adds that some people are more familiar with wind farms in coastal places like Gaspésie, Cape Cod and Denmark."But these turbines measure 50 metres high. They're made to supply entire cities or portions of cities," Brunet said. "But you can buy a small wind turbine to supply a certain amount of energy for your home right now — not tomorrow, not in a year — today. The bottom line is that we have to start paying a lot more attention to the way we use electricity."He says a perfect example of electricity waste is in our homes."Regular incandescent light bulbs use infinitely more electricity than the newer energy efficient compact florescent models. But not many people are using them yet," Brunet said. "While the cost is higher initially, over the long hall you're using much less electricity and saving money."The weekend's events include three English and three French guided tours on wind power. Topics include general information on wind turbines as well as environmental topics like animal safety, specifically for birds, and noise level misconceptions."We have a recording of what a turbine sounds like," Brunet said. "On a semi-windy day, leaves rustling in the trees make more noise than a wind turbine."Brunet says a cutaway turbine is on display that people can see and touch. Experts from the Université du Québec à Rimouski will be on hand to show the internal structure of the turbine and explain how electricity from a domestic wind turbine is transferred to the home. Meteorologists from Environment Canada are also on hand offering maps of the windiest places in Canada and the island of Montreal."Wind power is just one of the ways we can help save the planet," Brunet said. "This is as clean and renewable energy as you can get."The Biosphere is on Île Sainte-Hélène of Jean Drapeau Park. Open House weekend admission is free. Weekend hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. English tours at 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. In French at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Call (514) 283-5000 or visit www.biosphere.ec.gc.ca. Also visit www.earthday.org and www.theclimateproject.org.Dozens of Earth Day events are held this weekend at area museums and parks including the CCA, the Planetarium, the Biodome, the Insectarium, the Montreal Botanic Garden, and tree planting on Jean Drapeau Park. For a complete listing of events (in French) visit the local Quebec Earth Day Web site at www.jourdelaterre.org.
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