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I joined Cornell Cooperative Extension to learn about the basics of building sustainable residences with maximum energy efficiency.  So for me, the entire summer boiled down to this past week.  The Energy Corps had done training and reading having to do with building science, but this class was the cherry on top of an efficiency sundae.


I walked into class (late) on Monday morning to find the largest age range of committed young people trying to board the green jobs train our world is begging for.  There were a few older adult contractors looking to upgrade their business, and by their side were some kids who had just graduated middle school.  This made me feel comfortable in knowing that we were all part of something bigger and current that everyone needs to be a part of.  Patrick Griffin (of Phi Global http://bit.ly/qP2SYN) started the class by discussing the importance of a BPI contractor.  There are 100k certified auditors needed in order to accomplish the goal to make every residence in the US energy efficient, and as of recently, there are only around 25k.  There is a high demand for these types of green jobs, and the youth is seeing this as an opportunity to ensure a profession after education, something even college graduates are struggling so hard to find. 

The class combined tons of reading material with intense field work, where the students performed mock energy audits.  This is where all of the reading and information began to make sense.  Once everyone had finally gotten out of the classroom and into the jungle of a housing system, it was clear that we were all going to pass the certification.  Everyone of us was dedicated and almost enchanted by unveiling the residential puzzle of houses and all the opportunities for saving energy.  The house we audited had sections that were over 200 years old, which lead to many suggestions.  The blower door couldn’t even generate enough power, and there was a mini hurricane in the living room with all of the air being rapidly sucked out. 

Together the class trucked through a years worth of training and knowledge in only five days, and the end result was nearly 100% pass rate.  The youngest member of the group scored the highest, by the time he is ready to graduate, he will already have his own green business! 

-Aaron Diamond (@donzodiamond)

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This summer Yash, Kevin, and I (the other Kevin), have been meeting with the Dryden Energy Team. The team is made up of the employees of the newly built Town Hall. It has met three times every other week during lunch, and it is a great forum for everybody to discuss home energy efficiency and give each other support and knowledge. Residents enjoying the rural life face many different challenges than those in town. Private and public transportation, constantly changing fuel oil prices, natural preservation, the inefficiencies of older/historic homes, and the “urban sprawl” are just some of the concerns of rural residents. The Energy Team members all agreed they were interested in making their homes more economically efficient and engaged with each other well.

Some decided to turn down the temperature on their hot water heater, and one woman Mary Anne purchased and brought in a Smart Power strip for everybody to see. Jane mentioned how much more aware she is about turning off the lights in her home. Janene did a fantastic job of filling out her Green Jobs Green NY application and is now seeking a contractor to perform her free home energy assessment. We were able to provide her with some great questions to ask the contractors so she could comfortably select one. Brian already had his assessment and shared some great experiences and tips for the group. (One particular tip is to place gallons of water or liquid into a fridge that may be slightly empty; this makes it easier for the fridge to cool after it gets opened because less cold air escapes. Cool, huh?)

The past three meetings seemed to have flown by, with only the fourth meeting remaining. The group has been very fun to meet with, and while it would have been nice to see more completed GJGNY applications, I feel this was a great start and a great forum to open up a dialogue. Of course the pizza every meeting was a nice touch too!

-Kevin

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Check out some pics of the Energy Corps learning about wood pellet burning stoves for home heating, but more importantly…find out if you qualify for the Warm Up Tompkins pilot program here!

-Danny

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On Friday, Ali, Yash, Drew and I met with local business, promoting commercial lighting initiatives. Currently, NYSEG is offering a program to local businesses that pays 70% of the cost of commercial lighting upgrades. Eligible businesses receive a free lighting assessment and the cost-reduced upgrades. Ali and Yash headed to Groton, while Drew and I did outreach in Brooktondale. Both groups spoke to enthusiastic business owners who seemed very interested in the program. Brookton’s Market in Brooktondale even offered to pass out the lighting brochures to local business owners that stopped by the store! Later this week, we will continue our outreach efforts in other Tompkins County towns.

-Brittany 

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Yesterday, Quinn, Katerina, and I went to the Groton, NY Farmer’s Market – the next-door neighbors to Ithaca (sort of) in Tompkins County. We talked to a variety of different people who had all heard about our work but were excited to learn more about how they could further improve the efficiency of their homes through Green Jobs Green New York, and had the chance to speak with an administrator in a nearby nursing home who was considering energy upgrades for her residents. We even met one fine gentleman who spends a great deal of time commuting between Groton, Ithaca, and Cortland – and had been using the TCAT bus system to get there for 30 years instead of ever having owned a car. Way to go!

-Danny

P.S. Here are some pictures to show for our afternoon in Groton.

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Last Thursday, Katerina, Quinn, Andrew and I represented the Energy Corps at the Enfield Summer Camp at Treman State Park. It was our first of 6 sessions with kids ranging from 4 to 13 years old. It was a learning experience for both the kids and the educators, as we tried to make learning about energy fun and interactive. With the younger kids, we focused on lights and electronics, helping them make signs to remind themselves to turn off the TV and the lights when they leave the room. We also had them decorate log-books where they could keep track of all the lights in their house and how many they turn off. Team building and competition was the name of the game for the older kids, with jeopardy and other activities to get them working together to think about energy. It was a great start to a great 6 sessions!

-Ali

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The Energy Corps interns at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (more succinctly, “we”) are putting the good word out about our summer outreach! Follow us in this space for frequent updates on our different programs ranging from helping local businesses find ways to install efficient lighting systems to teaching kids about investing in a sustainable future. Who knows? You might even get a mention!

-Danny

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