Green Technology in the Community

By: Sarah Carlye

Individuals, businesses, and the government each have ways they are able to “Go Green”. Each effort does help and is certainly better than no effort at all. Sometimes the efforts are like having three cooks who aren’t communicating responsible for one the meal. The meal could end up with three main dishes and no vegetable or a mix of southern cooking and fine dining courses. Having the three cooks communicating and cooperating will result in a meal that is complete with each dish complimenting the other. When communities organize their efforts to be environmentally friendly the efforts will compliment each other the results are much more effective in making changes that benefit the environment.

Individuals can do what they can to reduce the following:

• Gas emissions
• Oil dependency
• Electrical use
• Cleaning with harmful chemicals
• Waste

The more people that adopt environmentally friendly lifestyles, the more impact it will have on the environment. Lack of large scale resources to make the most of their efforts limit individuals.

Businesses can adopt environmentally friendly practices and have a larger impact on the environment in a community. They can have a vehicle fleet, office, and other business related programs that will minimize their negative impact on the environment. Often business are limited by the affect that the environmentally friendly changes have on profit. They must walk a fine line to be environmentally friendly and still make a profit.

Government agencies do their part to support, to create, and enforce environmentally friendly practices. Though there are many helpful and useful programs that are government supported, government agencies are of ten bogged down with the politics of the times.

If each community united, organized, and cooperated to adopt environmentally friendly practices, the impact would be greater than the separated and unconnected efforts of individuals, businesses, and government agencies.

Community needs are best known by the people who live in and work in it. When the residents and businesses get involved, change and improvement can take place rapidly in a community. Outside influence and/or support may still be needed to recognize needs as well as to push necessary change forward. This is where the government agencies can help. Private agencies can also assist.

Change begins at the micro-level through the following:
• Newsletters
• Personal contact
• Community meetings
• Education about energy savings, renewable energy, ways to change consumption, etc.

From there, it can move on to a larger scale where community-wide changes can be adopted. These can include the following:

• Building codes that meet stronger energy efficiency standards
• New community buildings (examples: schools, office buildings, fire stations, police departments) can be built to meet the new energy realities
• Communities can even consider developing their own renewable facilities that can save the communities money or become a source of revenue instead of taxes.

To determine what’s best for communities as a whole, an outside influence may be needed to determine what’s possible and to help with funding and organization. One organization that tries to put it all together is the Alliance. It was created by Owens Corning (best known for energy-saving insulation) has put itself in the business of being an outside influence for communities of all kinds to develop solutions for energy efficiency and carbon-reduction.

Owens Corning has chosen to do so by taking a holistic approach (looking at communities as a whole) and come up with solutions that will incorporate their plans to reduce energy demand from 25 to 50 percent and decrease greenhouse gas emissions of up to 80 percent compared to business as usual energy use and delivery approaches.
Careful analysis of buildings to be able to implement the use of smaller equipment to heat and cool buildings will reduce initial cost and waste in daily operation. Included in Owen Corning’s solutions will be a reduction in the need for each building to operate as an energy island allowing peak loading for the system to be distributed among all the buildings and reducing the overall peak loads and energy waste.

When the plan is completed, the Alliance will provide an Integrated Energy Master Plan, which will serve as the basis for the implementation of tasks to make the actual energy changes. This will combine what individuals can do, what business will do, and what government is able to do with what communities seek to do. It can, in the end, make real energy changes.

Coming together as a community with some outside help will create a larger positive impact on the environment than what individuals, business, and government can do on their own.

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