Media: Solving Sustainability (Macalester Today)

May 3, 2018

Excerpt from Macalester Today:

Start at Home

Chris_D_150.jpgWith climate-change data fast disappearing from the websites of the Environmental Protection Agency and other governmental entities, it’s been a challenging period for the sustainable energy sector. But Chris Duffrin ’93, president of the Center for Energy and Environment, an energy efficiency-focused nonprofit in the Twin Cities, still sees a silver lining. “It’s frustrating that we’re seeing a lack of federal action on these issues, but what that has done is driven more of the action to a local level than ever before, and cities and local governments are much more engaged in making better policies,” says Duffrin. “The economics have changed so that fossil fuels just aren’t competitive against renewable energy and energy efficiency. Federal energy policy could slow progress down, but a cleaner energy supply is still coming.”

Duffrin got his start in the energy sector advocating for low-income utility customers at the Energy CENTS Coalition, and then spent many years at the Neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC), the St. Paul-based nonprofit behind the HOURCAR car-sharing program, In 2016, he helped merge NEC with the Minneapolis-based Center for Energy and Environment, a move that has allowed both groups to expand the reach of their expertise in home energy audits, providing $10 million in home improvement loans each year.

With residential energy accounting for 22 percent of global energy consumption, taking the following steps in your own home can make a difference for the environment, says Duffrin, no matter what’s happening in Washington:

  • Get an energy audit, and start tightening up old windows, door frames, attic bypasses, and other places where air is escaping.
  • Add insulation, a home improvement with a great rate of return, cutting your carbon load by an average of 5,692 pounds every year.
  • Swap incandescent bulbs for LEDs, which are coming down in price and can last for up to 25 years.
  • Replace old appliances with efficient Energy Star models—and recycle that old fridge in the basement, which produces nearly 2,000 pounds of CO2 every year.

Read the full article at Macalester Today