Staff Voice: For global change, start at home
As part of an energy counselor-auditor team, I conduct home visits to help residents reach their energy efficiency goals. We install a wide array of energy-saving products and provide recommendations for making homes more healthy, comfortable, resilient, and energy-efficient. A big part of our role is to consult with the homeowner — telling the truth while accentuating the positive, by concentrating on key areas where we have the power and reach to make a real difference.
At small and large scales, such optimism-framed efforts can help us transition to a cleaner economy by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and our reliance on fossil fuel power generation.
On the heels of last fall's United Nations IPCC report, and the even more recent Fourth National Climate Assessment, it’s clear that reducing GHG emissions is our giant task to focus on — but how we get there is more complicated. Without a federal push to organize and move forward on sweeping climate legislation, we continue to rely on the leadership of transformative individuals, companies, organizations, municipalities and state governments. Following last November’s elections, and a more balanced Congress in 2019, conversations around the ambitious (and much discussed) "Green New Deal" climate-focused economic stimulus proposal is helping to spotlight the issue as a lead-in to the 2020 election.
For many, the IPCC report — written by hundreds of scientists from 40 countries — was at once both shocking and sadly unsurprising. Their warning is essentially: To avoid the worst possible effects of climate change, we must dramatically reduce our GHG emissions over the next 10 years, putting us on a path to zero net emissions by 2050.
The report also explores the difference in impacts between a 1.5 degree (Celsius) rise and a 2 degree rise. That additional half-degree could mean life-threatening heat waves, water shortages, and coastal flooding for tens of millions more people — not to mention devastating losses to plant and animal habitats, crop yields, sea ice, permafrost, and coral reefs.
So what can any of us do, individually or within our organizational teams, to affect the level of change needed for such a massive scale? Well, we can start small and with optimism, in our own homes and families, among our own friends, and in our own communities.
Each energy visit I do makes a meaningful impact in the footprint of just one home. But with multiple counselor-auditor teams performing two to three home visits every day, the energy savings and associated GHG reductions — not to mention increased public awareness — really start to add up toward meaningful change.
CEE Residential Programs
Global Warming of 1.5C, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Oct 2018)
Fourth National Climate Assessment (Nov 2018)