Program Higlights 2011-2012
By: Jenn Hatch
We’re on pace for a record breaking summer – heat waves are causing Americans throughout the country to crank up their air conditioners and their energy use. That’s why PIRG Energy Service Corps teams of student Energy Efficiency Ambassadors will work full-time in their local communities to help people save energy, protect the environment and save money.
From teaching kids about energy efficiency in California, to connecting homeowners in Wisconsin with energy audit services, to performing simple energy upgrades in New Jersey, these student leaders will pound the pavement toward a more energy-efficient future.
An energetic group of student leaders this summer will build on the work started this fall. As they get into full swing, here are few notable highlights from the 2011-2012 school year!
Thanks to the continued support of AmeriCorps, our “Energy Efficiency Ambassadors” targeted 20 communities in four states – California, Colorado, New Jersey and Wisconsin -- with intensive campaigns to shrink energy use. To maximize our impact, 17 full-time and 149 part-time AmeriCorps members recruited an additional 785 volunteers, giving a total of 22,820 hours of service to these communities. Through education and mobilization of kids in local elementary schools, college students on campuses, and adults in their homes, we brought the promise of energy efficiency directly to hundreds of thousands of people.
Cutting Energy Use in Dorms
• Working with the residence hall association at the University of Wisconsin Madison, WISPIRG Energy Service Corps launched a campus 2012 Residence Hall Energy Competition. Signing up hall captains, volunteers worked with residence staff to distribute energy-saving tips to students and organize education presentations for student teams vying to win. At the end of the competition, several dorms had reduced their energy use and the winner cut energy waste by 28.5 percent!
• At the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, student volunteers with CoPIRG Energy Service Corps recruited ten dorms to compete for energy reductions. The dorms cut their energy use an average of 10.4 percent, prevented 46,000 pounds of carbon from being released into the atmosphere, and saved the school $1,800 in lower energy bills in just one month.
Organizing Alternative Energy Spring Breaks
This spring, 92 college student volunteers travelled to dozens of cities in an intensive education campaign that reached over 6,500 students and community members in just 30 days. In many communities, local elected officials and leaders in sustainability joined PIRG Energy Service Corps volunteers to bring the message of energy efficiency to local children.
• In Colorado, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs students visited the mountain town of Durango and taught 40 classes in just a few days. In just two years, COPIRG Energy Service Corps has educated almost 50 percent of the students in the Durango School District in ways they can save energy.
• Students at California’s Santa Monica Community College spent their break targeting neighborhoods in downtown Los Angeles often missed by other energy-outreach efforts. Volunteers knocked on hundreds of doors in Koreatown to educate residents about simple energy-saving measures and connect them with additional local initiatives - from EnergyStar appliance rebates to programs for solar and other renewable technologies.
• In New Jersey, 34 NJPIRG Energy Service Corps AmeriCorps members journeyed to Trenton, Newark and Atlantic City schools, providing 1,600 children with energy-saving lessons and tips to take home to their parents.
• In Wisconsin, State Senator David Hansen joined a dozen University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students in teaching Green Bay middle school kids about the importance of energy efficiency.
• On their spring break, California’s De Anza College students surveyed energy use at a local men’s shelter and replaced 30 incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights. This simple change will save the shelter an estimated $2,000 over the lifetime of the bulbs. Shelter director Charles Knuckles noted the impact of these savings – “last year, [our] energy bills were so high that I had to reduce the number of men I could serve here. Energy conservation is a top priority – the more I save, the more men I can serve.”
Forging New Partnerships
• CALPIRG Energy Service Corps volunteers ensured the University of California Merced’s triumph in the statewide ‘Energy Games’ competition, going door-to-door and recruiting more than 280 households to pledge to reduce their energy use.
• In Boulder, Colorado, students teamed up with the Conservation Resource Center to help schools competing in the local ‘Renew our Schools’ challenge – a competition between area schools to conserve energy at school and at home that awards the winning schools free solar panels. Working with competition organizers, a team of COPIRG Energy Service Corps volunteers taught 1,000 kids the basics of energy efficiency and how to conduct energy surveys of their homes and participate in the competition.
• At New Jersey’s Rutgers University, campus fraternities and sororities partnered with NJPIRG Energy Service Corps to weatherize 13 homes in one day. Volunteers sealed up cracks around windows and doors, set thermostats, insulated water heaters and changed out regular light-bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs.
• Joe Krovoz, Mayor of Davis, California, joined CALPIRG Energy Service Corps volunteers at the University of California, Davis campus to launch the campus Green Greek Program and upgrade the energy efficiency of four Greek houses on campus