Spring is the most optimistic season. It’s all about renewal. You can see it — people are happier, kids are playing outside, gardeners are busily tending to their plants and vegetables. But there’s more this spring: Westport itself is undergoing renewal by going green.
It’s understandable if you haven’t noticed the silent green eco-revolution. It’s been more of a culmination of efforts over the years than one big change.
Westport is now one of twenty municipalities in the state to earn recognition from the Connecticut Clean Energy Communities Program, a partnership between the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund and SmartPower. How’d we do it? First, we committed to purchase 20 percent clean energy by 2010; second, we signed up more than 100 residents and small businesses for the Clean Energy Options program. The reward? A $20,000 two-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system that can be installed on any municipal building. That’s “free” energy for twenty-five or more years.
On May 15, Westport Fire Headquarters will install solar panels, making it the first Clean Energy project on a Westport municipal building. There’s word that as more residents and businesses sign up, the town will earn more panels, which may be “stockpiled” for a larger system. Perhaps it will be installed at Staples High School, where the Clean Energy Club has been working to sign up residents for Clean Energy Options.
The club’s president, Alex Vincent, is also a part of Westport’s new Green Energy Task Force, which is headed by former selectman Carl Leaman. The task force aims to raise public awareness of conservation efforts, including working with local architects and builders on green building and participating in EarthPlace’s Earth Day for green efforts.
One of the groups the task force met with is the Stillman Organization, which has a green project underway in town — at 4 Panhandle Lane. Feel free to drive by, but it looks like any other stunning 9,000-square-foot house in town. What you won’t see is that it uses geothermal heating and air-conditioning, blow-in insulation and lots of other conservation technologies. This building-and-design firm is enthusiastic about green-energy techniques and is sharing its strategies with local building professionals.
With so much focus on clean energy sources, CL&P’s Marge Kelly reminds us that there is still a need to conserve electricity and use energy more efficiently. Run washers, dryers, and air conditioners after 8 p.m.; sign up for CoolSentry, which automatically shuts off your air conditioner during peak energy-use times; and try compact fluorescent bulbs.
Check out Jim Motavalli’s story, “Greener by the Dozen,” on page 104 for twelve more easy ideas for conserving energy. Little changes add up. Another 100 people on the Clean Energy Options plan, and we’re one more PV system closer to a clean and green community.