Think globally, act locally—a powerful set of words when it comes to something we all hold dear to our hearts, the Earth. At YouCaring, we aim to make the world a better place, one personal fundraising cause at a time, and we stand behind all those working to improve this precious planet.
As Earth Day approaches April 22, we’ll be using our social media channels to feature people and projects dedicated to helping the environment. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce our friend Heather Shepard, director of development and marketing at the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) in Oakland, California. This nonprofit social enterprise has facilitated 44,000 energy projects for consumers, businesses and governments.
Heather has made it her professional mission to build environmental partnerships. Read on to find out how CSE is helping communities, and what actions everyone can take to be kinder to the Earth.
What is the mission of the Center for Sustainable Energy?
Our mission is to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world powered by clean energy.
CSE is a nonprofit that works with policy makers, regulators, and public agencies as an expert partner to run market transformation programs and serves as a trusted information resource to help people participate in the clean energy economy.
What are a few of the projects that CSE is working on in 2015?
CSE manages dozens of energy programs each year. Some of the major initiatives we are undertaking are:
- Sharing the results of California’s clean energy leadership throughout the U.S., and helping other states take advantage of California’s advances in developing a clean energy economy
- Sharing lessons learned from running major market development programs to California policy makers, so that future investments in clean energy programs maximize customer participation and minimize confusion
- Increasing funding for disadvantaged communities to share in the benefits of clean energy
How does the work of CSE affect people’s daily lives?
If you buy an electric vehicle in California, we administer the rebate and do the marketing for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. We help manage a statewide marketing, education and outreach campaign called Energy Upgrade CaliforniaⓇ on behalf of the California Public Utilities Commission—you may have seen the “Stay Golden” campaign with the California bear. Also, we help break down barriers behind the scenes to make technologies like solar more affordable. For example, we work with public agencies to get them to reduce permitting costs and time.
In your daily work, where do you find inspiration?
I get to work with a lot of smart people who are determined to help our society transition to clean energy. I learn new things every day from them and refill my “inspiration tank” by witnessing their commitment and smart thinking.
What goals does CSE have for Earth Day 2015?
I feel like every day at CSE is Earth Day. We are participating in extra Earth Day events throughout the state, in addition to the ongoing outreach we do every day. I think with the extreme drought situation, Earth Day is really a reminder of the urgency to focus on our natural resources and their sustainability.
What are some fun ideas for how people can participate in Earth Day?
Find out if there is an Earth Day event in your community. Be more mindful of the beauty of our planet: take a minute to talk, plant something, take a bike ride, or go to a community earth day event. It is inspiring to meet other folks who are interested and also to see what neat kinds of technologies are out there to help us save money and energy.
Being more sustainable is more fun because it involves walking more, cooking a meal with local ingredients, biking more. Using less energy means you get to interact with others more and feel more connected. Find out if where you work has any plans to be greener and see how you can get involved.
I think kids today are our sustainability champions. Talk to a kid to get inspired and make it fun! Commit to an energy-saving activity (conserve water, energy, and gas). Celebrate the savings with your family by spending the savings on a fun activity.
How will you spend Earth Day this year?
Helping staff an Earth Day event in my community with my kids.
What are some simple lifestyle changes that can make a great difference for the environment?
- Purchase foods from local, sustainable farms or get together with your neighbors to start a community garden.
- Choose a laptop over a desktop computer. Laptops use less electricity and spend more time in power-saving modes like sleep mode.
- Unplug any fully charged device and reduce the brightness on your TV and personal devices. This can also conserve battery life!
- Electric vehicles convert about 59 percent to 62 percent of electrical energy from the grid; compare this to conventional gasoline vehicles which only convert about 17 percent to 21 percent. Learn more about the electric vehicle rebates and incentives in your area at our Electric Vehicle Incentives page.
Could you share a few tips on changes people can make to conserve water?
- Turn off water when you are brushing your teeth.
- Check plumbing for any leaks that may lead to water waste.
- Did you know that showering accounts for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use? That’s nearly 40 gallons of water per day for the average-sized family. Opt for a quick shower or replace your standard showerheads (which use 2.5 gallons per minute) with WaterSense-labelled showerheads.
What kinds of improvements do you recommend for home energy efficiency?
- Adjust your refrigerator’s temperature to 35 to 38 degrees. It will use less energy and your food will stay just as fresh!
- Keep your freezer full. An empty freezer uses more energy to stay cold.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs (including holiday lights) with LEDs, which use around 85 percent less energy. Use small solar lights outside for lining your driveway and walkways.
- Opt for electronics with the Energy StarⓇ logo, which indicates that the electronic is at least 40 percent more energy efficient than standard models.
- With tax incentives, solar electricity can often pay for itself in five to ten years. Find out if your local utilities have any water savings, energy efficiency, renewable energy (solar) rebates or incentive programs.
What are some ideas for how individuals can use online fundraising to benefit the environment or in celebration of Earth Day?
Online fundraising is a perfect venue for clean energy. Help fundraise for LED lightbulbs, composting bins for your kid’s school, or solar panels for a community center, park or other community asset. Helping a struggling family or individual reduce their energy bills is a great gift because it saves money and also saves the environment. There are lots of community solar efforts sprouting up.
How can individuals and families join in CSE projects?
CSE helps manage a lot of the programs funded by the State of California to engage citizens on clean energy and help incentivize them to adopt more sustainable technologies, such as Energy Upgrade California and the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The Energy Upgrade California website has a lot of good resources.
People taking an interest in affordable clean energy technologies will help the market grow and drive down costs. This can happen not only by making clean energy purchasing decisions, but also by asking questions and engaging with our local governments, schools, landlords, workplaces and communities. Ask about incentives and education about the benefits of community gardens, community solar, energy efficiency upgrades for our homes, and car sharing.
Are there tools, websites or other resources you suggest for people who want to learn more about making smart environmental decisions?
We hope Heather’s perspective inspires you to help the environment on Earth Day—and every day. Why not start a crowdfunding cause to benefit the Earth and your community? Create Your Free Fundraiser with YouCaring today. For tips and fundraising ideas, follow YouCaring on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.