Monday, November 28, 2011

Negawatts and Heroes: San Diego Enlists Veterans for Energy Fight.

Energy and climate have made many strange bedfellows. Environmentalists and Marines make common cause because each has a mission vitally impacted by the use of energy. Everyone debates the merits of their favorite renewable or alternative energy production means, but all agree on the importance of the Fifth Fuel. Along with coal, petroleum, and nuclear, renewable/alternative energy make up the four fuels we use most commonly. The fifth fuel is the cleanest, cheapest and most secure of all. It is the electron you do not use through energy conservation.

On Tuesday, 6 December 2011, I will be speaking as part of an all-day series of events coordinated by the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego, CA, including an evening panel on the USS Midway. The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center “seeks to inspire lifelong learning by furthering the public understanding and enjoyment of science and technology”. The title of the program is “The Military Goes Green: Cutting Back on Fossil Fuel to Save Lives and Billions of Dollars”. It is co-sponsored by “EARTH: The Operators’ Manual”, an NSF-supported education and outreach project focusing on the twin topics of climate change and renewable energy. Check out the link to the website and if you are in SoCal, come by and participate.

In the process of preparing for this event, I was placed in contact with Laura Parsons of the California Center for Sustainable Energy, “a non-profit organization dedicated to creating change for a clean energy future,” a group I’ll be speaking that morning. One of their programs caught my attention and I wanted to share it with you. It is a pilot program funded by DOE “to test Community-Based Social Marketing strategies for encouraging people to do whole-house energy efficiency upgrades”. CCSE is preparing to enter the implementation phase of the program so they were looking for a target audience that would be aware of the implication of energy use, be disciplined enough to carry through with efficiency behavior and would be good representatives of the program. Guess who they picked? Veterans. The program is called the “San Diego Hero Alliance.”

According to Ms. Parsons, the program begins with a small commitment – asking veterans to pledge to do one energy efficient behavior – to bring them into this community of Energy Heroes. Once they self-identify as someone who cares about energy efficiency, the Alliance helps them to take progressive steps to learn more about their home’s energy performance, and ultimately, get a home energy upgrade. The Alliance will assist with tapping into an existing rebate program, to help overcome the cost barriers.

This is a practical and noble program. Using veterans as the stalking horses for focusing on energy efficiency brings continuity and credibility to the program. Helping veterans save on energy bills is principled and decent. One of the major impacts of efficiency programs is that they focus on air tightness standards for structures. With less air infiltration, cool stays cool and warm stays warm. Better still, pollen, moisture, dust and mold are reduced, creating a more health environment for children and other living things.

I wish them much success in this program. In areas where the cost for energy is high, such as Southern California, this makes sense for the utility and the consumer. This truly could be an Alliance of Heroes. Dan Nolan

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