Verde Elementary School Sees the Light

Energy Conservation Program Manager Julio Arroyo is always looking for ways to save energy for the West Contra Costa Unified School District. When Julio found an opportunity to implement a major lighting retrofit at Verde Elementary School with the help of the SmartLights Program, he knew taking the opportunity was the right decision.

Verde Elementary is a K-6 school in North Richmond situated on 8 acres of land, with an enrollment of about 320 students. On the school’s website, Principal Eric Acosta-Verprauskus describes the environment as “a collaborative network of thinkers focused on high achievement and embracing the whole child so that students grow academically and socially in a safe and positive environment to become college graduates, leaders, and lifelong learners.” CESC has collaborated in the past with Verde Elementary via the Family Sustainability Project. The school has been a destination of the Prescott-Joseph Center’s Breathmobile ®, which refers clients to our Healthy Homes Program.

Next it was time for CESC to help improve the school’s energy efficiency. The SmartLights Program performed a lighting assessment for the school and put together a detailed report outlining the projected cost, rebate and energy savings of the project, as well as the recommended lighting replacement measures. Contractors then came in and installed the lights to specifications, with the school receiving an up-front rebate to reduce the cost. Now, the school has replaced its fluorescent lights with new, energy-efficient lighting in its gym, classrooms, and library. The exterior and parking lot lighting was also replaced, a change which Julio explained “adds an element of safety for our maintenance staff that we didn’t have before.”

Julio Arroyo showing off new library lighting at Verde Elementary School

When you tour the newly lit school grounds, the impact of the bright, uniform lighting is immediately clear. Julio was particularly pleased with the new look of the library, which the lights show off to great effect.

 

Julio appreciated the instant rebates that SmartLights offered, which “allowed us to put more energy efficiency measures into place.” Thanks to the new, efficient lighting system, the school will now save an estimated $13,766 per year on its energy costs, a win for the district and a win for students.

Do you know of a school or business that could benefit from an energy upgrade? Contact the SmartLights program!



The Power of Relentless Optimism

By Martin Bond, CESC Executive Director

On January 20, 2017, President Donald J. Trump took office, while activists here in California organized protests and marches against his administration in which huge crowds participated.

I believe him a remarkably poor fit for the office of president. I am against most of his policies, his lack of empathy, and his hate-filled tirades in speeches and on Twitter. As someone who works with vulnerable communities and encourages clean energy, I find President Trump is in direct contradiction to what I do and talk about every day.  It would be easy to give up and give in to despair and fear. I will not. I have faith in the American people to not give in to an autocrat. I choose to take a positive view; change can be effected by a focused, relentless effort to make an impact towards a better world.

As President Trump said himself, we cannot be all talk and no action. Complaining about his policies to other like-minded friends doesn’t help. Protests, marches, and complaints are important, yet alone they will not effect change in him, or the world. I as an individual, and we as a community, can do more than just talk.

We can act by:

* Leading by example to support the very groups coming under attack: immigrants, Muslims, women, and people of color.  We need to protect those most vulnerable among us, because once it is OK to hurt them, who will be next?

* Continuing to combat climate change through our choices in: transportation, (electric vehicles, bikes, mass transit), purchasing energy (renewable sources, purchasing ‘green energy’ from our utilities), and how we live (buying local, participating in our communities). Climate change is an existential threat to our civilization, and we can still make an impact with the choices we make toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

* Taking control of our attitudes and choices we make every day. We can choose to see the good in our neighbors, the humanity in immigrants escaping violence, and the opportunities in the challenges we are facing today.

* Joining groups and communities of like-minded individuals to effect change in the world.

I need to be strong and not lose myself into despair or apathy. I can make a difference and build a better future. However, I have to act. One by one, first in small groups, then in large, we will build a community to fight for a better world.

I will remember to have gratitude for the good parts of my life, my family, my friends, and this great organization I am fortunate enough to be a part of.

I know these times, this administration, and this president are not permanent. Policies being made right now can be overturned and will not affect us forever. The actions of this president are not normal behavior, and many people are fighting against his recent policies.

I have work to do. We will get through these tough times. We will get through it, together.



Good News for Oakland Home Repair

 

Community Energy Services Corporation is pleased to announce that the Callison Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation have made new grants in support of CESC’s Oakland Home Repair program for 2017. The Oakland Home Repair Program brings needed home repair services to Oakland seniors. Several individual donors also gave in support of the program in 2017, and the Partnership Foundation, a current funder, also renewed its support.

In Alameda County, 45,000 housing units have moderate to severe physical problems (Alameda County Healthy Homes Department). Many Oakland residents lack the knowledge, strength or resources to make needed repairs or to hire a contractor to do the work, especially seniors on fixed incomes who may additionally be wary of strangers coming to their homes.  According to the Alameda County Community Development Agency, “As the number of seniors living in substandard conditions continues to climb in the City of Oakland it is imperative that we address the need for seniors to age in place.” Maricela Foster, Director of the agency, calls CESC’s Oakland Home Repair program an “exceedingly needed service.”

Oakland Construction Tech Jesús Ávila prepares for a kitchen repair

Served by a skilled and seasoned home repair team, the program made health and safety repairs for 17 senior households in 2015 and 12 in 2016 for a total of several hundred individual repairs. Repairs can include most types of plumbing, electrical and carpentry repairs, furnace and minor roof repairs, and the installation of safety features such as grab bars, handrails, and ramps.

“Oakland Home Repair is one of my favorite programs because I love to see seniors in my neighborhood getting the help they need for the home that they have worked so hard for,” says Program Assistant Jennifer Robles. Are you an Oakland senior who needs help with repairs? Contact Jennifer today to find out how to enroll in the Oakland Home Repair program.

Email: jennifer@ebenergy.org



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