Guest editorial: When it comes to saving energy, every meter matters! |

Guest editorial: When it comes to saving energy, every meter matters!

Chris Cherniak, Executive Committee member, Summit Community Power Works

We are happy to report there are a growing number of students, teachers and administrators in Summit County promoting and implementing change when it comes to energy efficiency and consumption — not just on an individual basis, but as an informed and engaged collective, both in and outside the classroom. However, despite our best intentions, Park City has a ways to go before it can honestly showcase itself as an energy efficient and "sustainable" town.

In a land of 6,000-square-foot second homes, supermarkets selling fresh limes from New Zealand and idling Escalades with the AC running, this town burns lots of fossil fuels and generates tons of greenhouse gases each day. That’s more than one person and a handful of LED bulbs can address.

These greenhouse gases not only contribute to a steady increase in carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere (now at 400 parts per million), but can be linked to a nearly four-degree increase in average temperatures in the Wasatch Region since 1970.

The relationship between fossil fuel consumption, greenhouse gas generation, a warmer world and, the environmental and economic impacts that a warmer world will have on Summit County is obvious. Yet, when it comes to actually doing something about it most adults end up channeling Alice in Wonderland who: "generally gave herself very good advice, though very seldom followed it."

Fortunately, there is a group of citizens within Summit County who are indeed acting upon their own good advice: specifically teachers, students and administrators. They are embracing environmental responsibility and energy efficiency in a way that is surprising and inspiring.

At the start of 2015, Summit Community Power Works launched its LED Switch Program, an initiative designed to educate and compel citizens to switch out their old, inefficient incandescent bulbs with LED-based light bulbs that, on average, use 80 percent less electricity.

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Supporting this initiative was an effort to bring the science and economics of LED bulbs and energy efficiency into the schools. SCPW Executive Committee member Kerry Lambert did a masterful job of educating elementary and middle school students at several schools, and sparking competition amongst classes to see who could switch out the most incandescent bulbs for LEDs.

As a result, South Summit County School District switched out approximately 1,400 bulbs and Jeremy Ranch Elementary School switched out nearly 3,000!

These are results that Christopher Nelson, Program Manager for the Georgetown University Energy Prize (which Summit County is competing for), described as "staggering."

We have many more schools to visit and more competitions to host, and we’re well on our way to a goal of switching out 10,000 incandescents for LEDs by the end of 2016.

In addition, there are a number of other energy-efficiency successes which have occurred just within these past four months. They include:

Park City converting approximately 1,000 street lights over to LED bulbs.

Summit County’s "Be Wise Energize" Program which will administer a weatherization program for homes throughout the County.

Park City installing approximately 750 solar panels on the roof of the MARC. The largest solar project in the city and one which will provide the MARC with approximately 20 percent of it’s daily electricity needs.

The Park City and Sunrise Rotary Clubs combining to switch out nearly 700 bulbs in just one month.

The Lions Club of Kamas switching out over 100 bulbs in homes within Kamas.

When it comes to fossil fuel consumption we still have a ways to go before Park City and Summit County can truly recognize itself as "low-carbon" and energy efficient. But energy awareness, education and group efforts are slowly gaining purchase, led mostly by the enthusiasm of our children. They seem to best understand that whether electric or natural gas, EVERY METER MATTERS, every day!