budget, discussion, environment - Written by on Saturday, January 10, 2009 15:47 - 0 Comments

Crazy ideas for 2009: Change a light campaign

Note: This is the fourth installment in a series of posts proposing unorthodox (that is “crazy”) ideas that Belmont might consider in 2009 to improve the quality of life in town. The first three posts can be found herehere and here

Our series on crazy ideas (that might work) for 2009 continues with a contribution from loyal B2 reader and Sustainable Belmont member Ian Todreas. As an environmental consultant and expert in areas such as energy efficiency, alternative transportation,  and sustainable development, Ian follows issues pertaining to the environment and sustainability very closely — and he’ll be the first to tell you that small changes in our collective behavior can translate into huge energy savings and environmental benefits. His “crazy idea” for 2009  is a great example of this. Here’s Ian’s proposal: 

A Townwide Outdoor Change-A-Light Campaign

The EPA has a national promotion for energy efficient fixtures and bulbs every October called ENERGY STAR Change a light, Change the world.  People are called upon to change one bulb or fixture to an ENERGY STAR labeled one. The Belmont spin could be that BMLD or some other entity  orchestrates a door to door campaign offering free bulbs to homeowners. Volunteers could help screw them into their outdoor fixtures ON THE SPOT (this is key–studies show that most bulbs given away don’t actually make it into a fixture, and if they do, they go into a fixture that isn’t used much, like a closet, and thus the environmental benefits are minimal).

Belmont Municipal Light Dept. (BMLD) already has bulbs that they give away. This would be a modest expansion of that: BMLD could “train” a cadre of precinct “captains” who could lead the charge. (Parents: I smell a great and college-application friendly community service opportunity.) It could be promoted as Three Cups of Tea was–a community-wide coming together for the common good. BMLD could also quantify energy savings to the homeowners and to the town. Homeowners who already have energy efficient bulbs outside (as do we) could take the freebie and use it somewhere inside.

This could also be the foundation for or the impetus to launch Belmont’s climate action plan and related activities. After three years of planning, Belmont DOESN’T HAVE A PLAN YET!  This is a small-scale plan that would actually put Belmont on the cutting edge. No other town has done this. EPA and ENERGY STAR would eat it up and the town could get some great/free publicity I am sure, especially if we could get some high visibility support from the Selectmen and other town leaders. 

Businesses could sponsor T shirts or caps, offering coupons or free coffee or something for volunteers. Volunteers could be formed from intergenerational teams, since Seniors would be key to the success. —  Ian

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