Communities Find Comfort in “Going Green” Together
By Jan Bennett
Winter is well on its way, as many living in the north east can attest to. So, in the spirit of creating warmth and wellness, State of the Re:Union is highlighting an unusual community-led effort to go green that started in Washington D.C., but is sparking interest around the country.
Just a short while ago, seven families near the Washington D.C. area (Silver Spring, MD) decided to pursue a Neighborhood Weatherization Project in an team effort to conserve energy. After a meeting with Weatherize DC, a nonprofit advising people in the weatherization process, these families signed up for the process as a group. With Weatherize DC’s assistance, requests were sent out to five local businesses, choosing the best company for the job. (To read this article in its entirety, click here.)
Going green as a neighborhood really helped keep the cost down (they saved 15 percent or more on the process, with an average reduction in energy bills by 15 to 25 percent). Cracks in walls and ceilings were repaired, gaps were closed and additional insulation pumped into walls, all at a reduced cost.
This project was the first of its kind, but is gaining in popularity for families who want to save some green while becoming green. A few additional D.C. neighborhoods have followed suit and created their own neighborhood projects, including the Hill neighborhood near Capitol Hill. Bulk purchasing of energy improvements, services and products is trending, not just for neighborhoods, but churches and other community organizations are getting in on the actions.
As if saving money and the earth wasn’t enough incentive and being comfy and cozy, there is an added bonus that badly-needed jobs are being produced with these projects. Weatherize DC’s Director of Communication Elizabeth Condon stated, “People like the idea of lowering the costs of home energy efficiency upgrades, having the momentum of working with others to make sure they get it done, and creating local jobs for people from disadvantaged communities in the process.”
And as Condon says, “The Hill neighborhood also provides a nice juxtaposition — being in the shadow of the actual Capitol building which represents top-down change — and these small community-led efforts which can have a profound impact in individuals’ lives.”
There are quite a few reasons to consider going green together. Cost is certainly one, but more than that, as the old adage says, “There is strength in numbers.” This meaning that banning together and committing to make small changes in your neighborhood can ignite a spark and be the change that’s needed for your community. If you could keep costs down, is this a project that you might consider? Do you know of projects similar in nature going on in your community? Is this something that can work for everyone? Send us your thoughts, comments and/or inquiries to let us know.