Stephanie Hastings is the founder of Naperville for Clean Energy and Conservation. This is an interesting not-for profit group with a goal to help spread information about the importance of energy efficiency and renewable energy. We had a chat with Stephanie about this wonderful group and this is what she had to share with us.
What does Naperville for Clean Energy & Conservation do?
Our mission is to educate the Naperville community about energy efficiency and renewable energy. We work on this with three main audiences in mind: city leaders, local businesses, and the residents of Naperville. We publish and distribute a quarterly newsletter that provides great information about environmental/sustainable projects and events around town. NCEC is available at no-cost to be a speaker at any event, in classrooms, and during other group/organization meetings. We are actively involved in the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. And, we also hold public events that offer free educational opportunities, such as our documentary viewing that featured the locally produced film, “Revenge of the Electric Car.”
Where did you get the idea for it?
We believe the city of Naperville with a well educated and affluent population is primed to be an environmental leader by implementing cost-effective and zero cost measures that reduce our community’s impact on the environment. Historically, the city has been a leader by implementing a curb-side recycling program and because of that, most people think about “recycling” when you bring up the idea of environmentalism. However, our members believe there is more our community can do as a whole and as individuals to become more sustainable and to make Naperville even more vibrant, healthy and safe. Naperville is unique because we have a municipal electric utility. This creates a great opportunity for education about the valuable resource of electricity that our city distributes to all of our residents and businesses.
When was it founded and how many people are involved?
NCEC was founded in 2005, and incorporated and became a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation in 2006. Our board of directors consists of 5 Naperville residents and we have an email distribution list of over 700 people.
Who is this group open to?
NCEC is open to the public. We welcome anyone at any of our monthly meetings and other scheduled events and we are always eager to grow and meet new people!
How can someone get involved?
Anyone who wants to get more involved in helping make the Naperville community more energy efficient and increase the amount of local clean energy generation should attend our monthly meetings. We meet at the City of Naperville municipal center once a month. Anyone who is interested in learning more about NCEC can visit our facebook page at www.fb.com/napervillencec. Anyone interested in receiving our newsletter should send an email to ncec(at)ncec.us
Are there any fees?
No, there are no fees to be a member or to attend any of our events. When we do need to fund events, we do so through sponsorship from local businesses. We are volunteer run and do not have any staff or regular expenses. We use free meeting space at the municipal center.
What are typical activities that you do?
There is nothing typical about our activities! We like to stay aware and involved when certain issues are brought before city staff or city council. When we plan our own events, we like to come up with new ideas and new ways of connecting with Naperville residents.
What are some things that the group has accomplished thus far?
Our group’s first big accomplishment was convincing the Naperville city council to conduct a community-wide greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The full-report which was completed in May 2009 is available on the city’s web site. The report is a great baseline against which we can monitor our progress as a community. It also includes some great ideas and initiatives for the city to consider incorporating over time.
While we cannot take direct credit, since our inception, the following list highlights progress that has been made within Naperville:
1. The Mayor Drives a Hybrid Vehicle (and the city’s fleet has added other hybrid vehicles)
2. The city has created a few new grant programs and revolving loans that are available for energy efficiency projects
3. The city has adopted an Environmental Sustainability Plan
4. The city has adopted a renewable energy ordinance
5. The city added the words “Environmental Stewardship” to the city’s core values
6. The city has implemented a major upgrade to local electrical grid (Smart Grid Initiative)
7. The city has installed an electric vehicle charging station
(Here is a complete list of initiatives as documented by the city)
NCEC has also organized several successful events including an Earth Day Event at North Central College and an Eco-Family-Photo Contest in which we were able to give away over $50,000 in prizes (thanks to the generosity of our sponsors) to Naperville families for showcasing their own sustainability efforts through snap-shots.
What are some of the easiest ways that someone can make a positive impact on reducing their energy consumption?
Based on our research and expertise, we can recommend with confidence that the easiest and most cost-effective way for someone to reduce their energy consumption at home is to reduce the amount of opportunity for air to leak in or out (this can be referred to air leakage or air infiltration) and can be accomplished by tightening up a home with various air-sealing methods. We use the most energy at home to heat/cool the air inside the home and the best way to reduce the amount of energy it takes to control the temperature inside a home is to stop the leaks. The “leakiest” places of a home are around door and window frames, attic access points, and at the rim joist (where the house frame meets the foundation). The best way to identify leaks in a home is to hire a professional energy rater who can conduct home performance testing during an energy audit. Nicor recently created a new program for Naperville residents which provides this service at a fraction of the cost (only $99) and includes rebates to help cover the cost of any remediation recommendations. The second priority is to be sure your home is properly insulated. Air sealing and insulation are low cost high impact improvements.
What are some examples of people and/or businesses that are making a difference that others can learn from?
There are a lot of great local businesses who are investing in renewable energy – either by installing solar panels or wind turbines or by purchasing renewable energy through their electric provider. The businesses/organizations who come to mind first are: Brighton Car Wash, EcoGym, Cafe-N-Play/Advanced Health of Naperville (Chiropractic), Great Western Flooring, Conservation Foundation, and Springbrook Animal Care Center. Businesses who invest in renewable energy through their electric provider include Kohls, Whole Foods, Brighton Car Wash, Casey’s Foods, Edward Hospital & Health Services, Kraft Naperville, M&M Orthopaedics, Naperville Running Company, St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Patrick’s Residence, and Steinbrecher Insurance Agency.
What are some of your favorite places to go or things to do in Naperville?
Personally I enjoy hiking/exploring Springbrook Prairie and Knock Knolls Park. The biking and walking trails are amazing and year-round there is something beautiful to appreciate there. When I’m not working on NCEC, I’m working on getting my new business, LoyalJoe.com, off the ground. Loyal Joe is a web site that enables small businesses to create custom digital referral rewards programs in order to integrate into social media.