Powerful Neighborhoods Program reaches important milestone

Congratulations are in order! ECOSS’ Powerful Neighborhoods Team surpassed the milestone of completing installations of over 2000 homes in South Seattle in early October. Thanks to the work of our team, 2000 families in South Seattle have received free assistance that will lower their energy bills, as well as reduce Seattle’s carbon emissions for years to come. Overall the ECOSS and other outreach teams have reduced over 7000 metric tons of CO2, saved customers an estimated $1,000,00, and saved Seattle City Light over $800,000 in energy savings.

ECOSS For Homes programs and resources

ECOSS’ For Homes program has been around since 1996, during which time we’ve worked with non-native-English-speaking communities,  teaching families about “green” cleaning, recycling, water and energy conservation, and health risks associated with common household cleaning products.  The program has reached over 7,500 families through community group presentations, local fairs and festivals, and other neighborhood-oriented events.

Our outreach team provides great resources to our clients, like green cleaning kits.  It looks like we might need to update our own information after this New York Times article was published, talking about this list created by the City of San Francisco. The list contains more than 1,000 products that have met stringent standards for health, safety and environmental sustainability (this is a bigger deal than most lists because of its comprehensive nature and because it was created by a government group rather than a commercial one). Notice that Cleaning Products is the largest category in the list.

Powerful Neighborhoods Update

Since partnering with Seattle City Light’s Powerful Neighborhoods Program, we have expanded our language capabilities, our staff, and our reach. We schedule home visits, provide translations, and deliver and install energy efficient fixtures at no cost.

Take a look at our figures from the program:

Number of homes served (actual): 1,145

Number of bulbs installed: 36,725

Number of kilowatt hours saved: 13,588,250 kwh

DIY tips for your home: get clean & get creative

Photo credit: Maria Finn/Re-Nest.com

Did you know that stale bread removes fingerprints and spots from wallpaper? Me either!

Green cleaning products can be great (although do your research – not all “green” products are created equal), but they are often expensive. Make your own. It’s cheaper and you know exactly what is in the product you create. Some of my favorite “how to” sites are here and here.

Are you replacing your old light bulbs with energy efficient CFL lights? Don’t toss the oldies quite yet – you can turn them into a terrarium or a chic vase. To find cheap CFLs in Seattle, visit Seattle City Light’s website for a list of retailers, and get your craft on with the bulbs you replace.

Did you know that even if your computer (or other electronics and appliances) is turned off, it is still using energy if it’s plugged in? In fact, some estimates assert that as much as 15% of in-home energy usage is from standby energy use! Leave it to those smart RISD kids to come up with a creative, ingenious solution for all those el ectronics and appliances that are leeching energy and wasting money. I give you the plug that unplugs itself. Awesome.

And in the spirit of the season (if you observe Lent) you can take this time to discover and practice some more sustainable eating habits. I give you The 40 Day Vegan. If you choose to make this commitment, keep in mind the rules you may normally follow when you’re at the grocery store or co-op: do your best to buy local and seasonal. You can find some great recipes here and here, and a comprehensive list of vegetarian/vegan establishments in Seattle here.

What are your tips for making your home and lifestyle more sustainable?


Small Business Administration changes lay the groundwork for Green Growth

Last week the Small Business Administration announced special financing to small business entrepreneurs who go green using the SBA 504 loan program. For many borrowers the maximum amount changed from $1.5 million to $4 million (for an overall project of up to $9 million) if the project helps construct, purchase, or retrofit facilities to include energy saving technologies (a 10% reduction in consumption is required for retrofits). Generating alternative sources of power or working towards LEED certification are also new criteria for funding beyond the $1.5 million maximum for meeting the job creation criteria or a community development goal. While it may sound crazy to think about starting a business during a recession, that is exactly what some laid-off and unemployed workers have opted to do. Leaving a cushy corporate job to follow your dreams was a lot more difficult back when it seemed like getting fired or laid off was a remote possibility, but the recession has changed the climate—it may be just as risky to stay in a big firm as it is to try to strike out on your own. There are some benefits to starting a business during a recession, and some very recognizable giants of industry were formed during recessions. With the additional funds now available for small, green businesses, this may be the perfect opportunity to turn layoff lemons into green lemonade (or would that be limeade?) by starting a green business. The benefits don’t stop there; for example, Seattle City Light offers a host of services for businesses looking to conserve energy and resources, including incentives for up to 70% of installation costs of energy efficiency investments. While the sinking values of real estate are trouble for homeowners, it also means good news for those looking to invest in new property. Considering Brownfields for redevelopment might also expand opportunities for incentives and credits from starting a new green business. The best part—ECOSS is your free first stop for green business information. Connecting business owners to existing resources in their communities and providing technical assistance is the central focus of our For Business team, so contact us today.

-Audrey Chestnutt