Archive for October, 2009

The Challenge Is To Save Money And Energy – It Is Easy To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

As the Dakota proverb says, “We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” This statement has taken on a whole new meaning in regards to our environment. The carbon footprint from the past and present are causing devastating effects to the future. The United States insatiable appetite for energy has made it the biggest contributor to green house gases. The typical American household generates 55,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. By contrast, the typical German household contributes 27,000 pounds, while Sweden is only 15,000 pounds. Carbon dioxide is the primary cause of global warming and is emitted into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels (gasoline, coal, oil and natural gas). Global warming has been linked to the increase in severe hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves and flooding.

One not-for-profit organization in the Rochester-area is willing to take on a global issue and bring it to the local level. Cool Rochester is launching a 3-year effort to engage 80,000 households in the greater Rochester area to reduce the total annual CO2 emissions of the area by 1 billion pounds. The project, called the Cool Rochester Challenge, will introduce participants to a variety of simple actions that they can choose from to reduce their household energy usage and their CO2 emissions.

In addition to engaging individuals, the Cool Rochester Challenge includes businesses, municipalities, and community groups. Cool Rochester will encourage them to make a significant CO2 reduction pledge from among their constituents, among those they serve, and from within their own internal operations.

All participants in the Challenge will register on the Cool Rochester website,, calculate their current carbon footprint, and make a pledge to reduce their energy consumption by a targeted amount. The total number of pledges will be displayed on the website homepage, to serve as references and inspiration for others. As specific actions are taken, participants will update their individual profiles on the website and they will be encouraged to provide monthly utility data so that their progress, normalized for temperature and other factors can be tracked.

As participants register on the website, they will be able to choose their organizational affiliation, so that organizations can compete for recognition and rewards by achieving the biggest carbon reductions. Cool Rochester will provide participants with the necessary tools, training, and support to reduce their carbon output. Cool Rochester will encourage businesses, municipalities and other organizations to engage with others in their field to form “Communities of Practice”: sharing best practices, insights, goals, and resources, in an atmosphere of friendly “co-opetition” as they move from encouraging their constituents to reduce carbon at home, to examining their own internal operations for opportunities to cut-back. As participants complete the residential program, they will be encouraged to become “Cool Ambassadors” and encourage their family, friends, and coworkers to join the Challenge, with incentives and recognition for those who are successful.

Cool Rochester is leveraging the strategy outlined in David Gershon’s book “Low Carbon Diet.” It outlines energy saving ideas in a very easy to implement step-by-step process. It takes homeowners and renters through four sessions aimed at educating, informing and empowering them in the area of energy savings. The book focuses on making small lifestyle changes that will reduce the home owner’s energy consumption, thus saving money. Opportunities to save energy can range from recycling to water conservation, to electrical energy conservation, heating and cooling, transportation opportunities and so forth. One major savings opportunity in Rochester is water conservation because much of the water is pumped uphill from Lake Ontario which requires a great deal of energy (close to $4 million worth annually). The home owner is able to pick and choose what changes they are able to make. All the small changes can add to a significant savings.

Cool Rochester has partnered with the City of Rochester and has been endorsed by Mayor Robert Duffy. The list of organizations that support Cool Rochester include Sierra Club, Town of Irondequoit, Rochester Museum and Science Center, and the Center for Environmental Information. The list is growing everyday as more and more individuals and organizations want to be part of the solution to global warming.

Join citizens of Greater-Rochester to Save Money, Energy & the Planet.