BY ALLISON ANDRADE
The U.N. warns that the world is “on course to exceed the temperature threshold” of warming, meaning another 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) above that set out in the Paris climate agreement. Many cities and community organizations in our country have set out to hold themselves accountable to the climate agreement, even if our federal government does not. Becoming green in the Twin Cities is easier and more accessible than ever. The new industries being created are becoming accessible to everyone, and so are the economic benefits. The nonprofit group Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light takes an intersectional approach to work toward climate justice. Climate justice entails building resilient, regenerative and equitable economies when combating climate change.
This July, Youth N’ Power camp in North Minneapolis was a leadership opportunity for youth from the Twin Cities. The kids learned about regenerative systems that cultivate community. The camp was organized by the Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light in conjunction with the Redeemer Center for Life and the Northside Youth Program. The camp taught about the entrepreneurial prospects, policy and permaculture of renewable energy through a climate justice lens. After understanding how power is generated and about whole system approaches, they learned about the financial incentives from Energy Smart, a business that helps other businesses conserve and use energy efficiently.
If you’re feeling inspired by what Youth N’ Power camp did for this diverse group of students, there are steps you can take as an adult to save money through living a carbon-neutral life. A low-cost energy audit is available through the Center for Energy and Environment for homeowners and renters who are CenterPoint Energy natural gas customers or Xcel Energy electric customers. If you own a local business, Energy Smart will audit you for free. Energy Smart worked with the Midtown Global Market to update their parking to LED lights; the project will be paid off in two years, while the LEDs will last for 15 years. Projects like these pay for themselves over time, and the Center for Energy and Environment is offering low-interest loans to business owners.
During this meeting the auditors identify opportunities for energy efficiency to meet your energy goals while saving you money. You can also conserve energy by programming thermostats, turning off lights and implementing other practices that use less energy. Low-cost purchases to lower your energy consumption could mean buying insulation for your hot water pipes or LED light bulbs. This can lower your energy bill during the summer, on top of saving an average of five dollars per bulb on your energy bill in a year.
After lowering your energy consumption, investing in renewable sources to get your energy is the best way to come closer to being carbon neutral. This creates green-collar jobs and has been a source of income for many farmers across the state through wind and solar fields. If you are a homeowner in Minneapolis with a roof suitable for solar you can be a part of the Just Solar Bulk Buy organized by Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL). If your roof is not suitable, or if you rent an apartment or condo, you can subscribe to a community solar garden to save money on your energy bill while supporting clean energy and your community. According to Emily Minge, the solar outreach coordinator at MNIPL, “You are supporting community-based clean energy and a diverse and equitable solar workforce, while making an investment that will benefit you financially.” By becoming a part of the Twin Cities residential Solar Bulk Buy, program community members can save as much as 60% on a solar installation. The panels are estimated to pay for themselves within 10 years while lasting up to 35 years. You will have 15 years of nearly free electricity and added value to your home, and there are low-interest loans available.
If you are interested in the Solar Bulk Buy, reach out to Emily Minge at email@example.com, and go to an information session! The next will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 7, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the MNIPL meeting space inside the Gandhi Mahal restaurant at 3015 27th Ave. S. The deadline to apply for this bulk buy program is Aug. 31, 2019.