The lively neon green room of Imagine Nation Brewing was filled with even livelier individuals last Thursday evening while community members contributed to an invigorating and educational conversation on energy efficiency and green building. With a room full of diverse stakeholders, including real estate agents, sustainable podcast owners, builders and public officials, the group narrowed the topic down to the local level and provided insight on energy efficiency through different lenses. The main points of conversation surrounded reducing our communal energy use, an in-development energy tracking tool, and a new community project to weatherize and rehabilitate manufactured homes. Missoula has many energy efficiency initiatives to keep on your radar and participate in!
There's a new way to make an individual impact with a push for energy efficiency and reducing energy use at home. Working with Climate Smart, a group of computer science students from the University of Montana are developing a new web platform with tips and a tracking system to help save residential energy use. Users will be able to see data on energy savings in engaging forms and be able to compare to an average. The group discussed the impact that participant’s awareness of individual energy cost savings has on the motivation to implement further energy cutting measures. Some people are much more motivated to implement further energy saving measures when they have a good sense for energy cost savings. As a college student, the idea of being able to track my energy use on a computer is really fascinating. Energy consumption can sometimes be a little confusing, and thinking of ways to cut back is challenging when we don’t know exactly where to focus. This web tool will allow the user to focus on key saving measures and see energy use with visuals, rather than just numbers on an energy bill at the end of the month. I'll be sure to check this tool out when it's ready, hopefully late spring!
Climate Smart’s Energy Corps member Max Longo explained his work with community partners at Home ReSource, NeighborWorks Montana, and the Human Resource Council. They are working on weatherizing manufactured homes with the goal of improving energy efficiency, health and overall well being for residents. The project is poised to address vulnerable community members energy needs, while re-purposing building materials and creating climate resilience. The potential benefits of this project led to a discussion on the many motivators for weatherizing homes. One of the main motivators was to promote health and comfort of residents. Homes that receive weatherization services see improvements in ventilation and insulation, which is especially beneficial for seniors in our community. I was fascinated by the discussion of weatherizing mobile homes. Before moving to Missoula, I maybe knew one or two people that lived in a mobile home. The community is much more prominent here and it was great to hear the energy efficiency measures one can implement to make these homes more energy efficient, healthier and more resilient to warming summers.
Finally, although most of the conversation was around energy in the built environment, we did tie back to the January Meetup where transportation featured prominently. Missoula in Motion’s February Clear The Air challenge is a fun way to make an individual impact reducing our communal emissions and track the amount of diversion. The challenge allows you to log sustainable trips during the month of February and track your positive impact. It's a fun way to compete with other Missoulian's with similar commute lengths and possibly win prizes for big diverters. As an avid biker, this challenge is super motivating. Sustainable transportation empowers me and allows every individual to make a difference reducing our carbon footprint in easier ways than we might think. Besides the positive impact of CO2 reduction, sustainable transportation can be a blast!
The community at Imagine Nation pitched ideas, challenged opinions and shared in drinks and many laughs. I learned an incredible amount about the motivations of energy efficiency and the momentum in Missoula to reduce the size of our energy pie!
- Sydney Lang