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February 04, 2013

Saving Money with Solar and Energy Efficiency in Southern California

LA forum 2While much of the news recently has been about how President Obama can create his own legacy of action on climate change and clean energy, many Sierra Club chapters continue to help teach communities about the steps that can be taken locally.

Recently the Sierra Club's My Generation Campaign in California teamed up with the Inland Empire chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council to hold a forum on energy efficiency and solar installations. The forum was the first in a series in 2013 as a part of the USGBC and Sierra Club's Green Home Series. The forum ended up being a very popular event, as more than 65 people came together to hear about solar energy in their communities and energy efficiency tips for their homes.

"The event was presented in English and Spanish, reflecting the ever-growing participation of Latinos in the environmental debate," said Allen Hernandez, a Sierra Club clean energy organizer. "The forum educated people on those steps to not only protect the environment with their personal decisions, but also on how to save money in the process."

Hernandez spoke at the event, as did a local school board official, a Redlands city council member, and a member of the local USGBC chapter.

LA forumLeticia Garcia of Fontana Unified School District explained the need for the district's school buildings to become more energy efficient and adopt reneawable energy sources such as solar power. She also touched on the importance of every California school district taken similar measures to both fight climate pollution and save money.

Redlands City Council Member Jon Harrison said the city has taken numerous steps toward expanding use of solar and energy efficiency so far - from replacing all the traffic lights with LED bulbs, to increasing solar panel installations from 63 to 400 over four years. He added that Redlands now ranks in the top 20% of the greenest cities in California, and he'd like to continue climbing the ranks by helping residents retrofit their homes to decrease energy use.

Allen Hernandez made sure the crowd knew all about the phenomenal Sierra Club My Generation campaign, which focuses on raising awareness and advocating for renewable energy and energy efficiency, particularly in low-income neighborhoods.

Along those lines, Michael Peel of the local USGBC, spoke about how the USGBC and the Uncommon Good, a non-profit organization in the Inland Empire, were also working on educating and acting on energy efficiency in low-income neighborhoods in the Inland Empire. He also provided examples of where energy efficiency upgrades could be done in one's home, such as replacing windows, doors, light bulbs, and showerheards, and insulating walls and attics.

The crowd got to view photo profiles of 12 local homes that had been retrofitted in the past year while learning about the jobs those projects had created, the positive impact it had on the environment, and the estimated saving the homeowners were going to experience.

The Sierra Club's My Generation Campaign seeks to make clean renewable energy easier to access for California families, businesses, and workers to create local jobs, spur local investments, bring energy savings, and protect the health of our communities. Visit: www.facebook.com/mygenerationsc

-- Heather Moyer, Sierra Club

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