Outreach/10 Percent Challenge Rollout/Draft Press Release

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The Press Release was finalized in early January.

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"Save energy, save money, and save the planet, one step at a time." With this as its message, Green Needham Collaborative is offering an exciting new program to challenge Needham residents to cut their household energy use by at least 10%, as a way of encouraging them to reduce dependance on fossil fuels. Participating residents will curb their emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas which leads to harmful global warming. And not only will they be acting locally to address a global problem, they will be saving money in the process.

Green Needham Collaborative's "10% Challenge" is an innovative and easy to use interactive program which provides a structure to guide residents to decide how they will go about saving energy. Residents create their own individualized plan to reduce their household energy use by at least 10%, and pledge to follow their plan. To participate, one starts by accessing the web-based checklist of options, called "My Plan," which can be found at [put My Plan web address here]. The checklist contains a large menu of actions for cutting residential and automobile energy use. Then, one simply chooses the actions to be taken. For each action selected, a carbon equivalent appears (in terms of yearly equivalent of CO2 avoided), based on average household energy savings. As successive items are chosen, a running total is automatically kept and displayed. Actions are chosen until the total carbon savings meets or exceeds 10% of total household energy use. Then this individualized plan is submitted to Green Needham Collaborative, and can printed out for reference.

How does one know that they have selected actions sufficient to meet the 10% threshold? The 10% Challenge provides two methods. First, one may simply choose to save the equivalent of 10% of the average American household's energy use, 54,00 lbs. of CO2, that is, 5,400 lbs. Secondly, one may click on a link to a household CO2 calculator, to estimate carbon equivalent of the participant's actual energy use. In either case, actions are chosen until they add up to the 10% figure chosen.

Many of the energy-saving choices are simple, and will save energy -- and money -- without expending money to do so. Some examples are turning down the thermostat at night during the winter, pledging to turn off unused lights, changing driving habits such as idling, and unplugging little-used second refrigerators. Other choices may involve modest up-front costs, such as replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs. And some choices involve larger investments (and larger energy savings), such as replacing an aging furnace, water heater or appliance, or adding insulation.

The 10% Challenge is also designed to educate and empower Needhamites to save energy. Green Needham Collaborative has established an on-line Resource Library, which can be found at [put Resource Library web address here]. It contains a wealth of background information for each of the available 10% Challenge menu of actions. In addition, each action set forth in My Plan contains a link to the pertinent section of the Resource Library. And to further its mission of educating residents about global warming and ways to reduce carbon emissions, Green Needham Collaborative is reaching out and speaking to civic and religious groups here in town.

Green Needham Collaborative Co-Founder and Co-Chair Michael Greis said, " Although you can't control the price of oil and gas, you can cut back a surprising amount of what you use. We'd like Needham to be a leader in the effort to reduce carbon emissions. What each of us does matters." Greis notes that Green Needham Collaborative has set a 10% Challenge goal of 250 Needham households and businesses, but considers that a low threshold which the group hopes to greatly exceed. Green Needham Collaborative will keep track of the total number of households and businesses who participate, as well as the total pounds of carbon saved, and will publicize these figures.

Green Needham Collaborative Steering Committee Member Eleanor Rosellini, who was instrumental in designing the program, said, "People I talk to want to save energy, but can become a bit overwhelmed and don't know where to start. We have developed a comprehensive tool which is streamlined, easy to use and informative. We believe that the 10% Challenge will encourage people to not only become energy savers, but also leaders who will want to share their success in saving energy and money with family, friends and neighbors."

Green Needham Collaborative is a is a local citizens environmental group, which works with various organizations, schools and citizens in Needham. It focuses on global warming and promoting sustainable living practices. Visit www.greenneedham.org for more information, and send an email to 10percent@greenneedham.org to receive more information and join the 10% Challenge.