The University recently donated $10,000 to help promote Sustainable Princeton’s Energy SmartHomes program, an initiative by a local environmental organization that allows town residents to have the energy efficiency of their properties evaluated by a technician. The donation is being used to fund two community panel discussions, the first of which will be held on Oct. 29 in the Princeton Public Library, and the production of a series of short videos on environmentally friendly home improvements to premiere in February at the library’s Environmental Film Festival.
The SmartHomes initiative contributes towards the town’s goal of achieving a silver level certification from Sustainable Jersey, a certification program that distinguishes environmentally conscious communities. Princeton currently holds a bronze level rating.
For $49 — reduced from $99 — local residents can receive an energy assessment from Ciel Power, a New Jersey company that uses equipment such as carbon monoxide monitors, gas leak detectors and combustion analyzers to determine the safety and energy efficiency of private homes.
“It helps to reduce heating and cooling bills, it helps to reduce pressure on the power grid and it makes us a cleaner and greener community. Those are all good things," Kristin Appelget, University director of community and regional affairs, said.
Sustainable Princeton vetted several companies before deciding on Ciel Power due to its success in neighboring communities and its effective marketing strategies, executive director Diane Landis explained. According to Scott Fischer, a managing member of Ciel Power who will be part of the upcoming panel discussion, the organization recently assessed almost twelve percent of the homes in Highland Park, NJ, of which “a significant portion went on to complete the installation of energy efficiency measures."
“We have a goal of getting 100 but we’re hoping to get to at least 200 homes that will sign up and take part in $49 home energy audits," Landis said.
The home audit campaign will contribute 20 of the 350 “points” that Princeton needs to become silver-certified by the next Sustainable Jersey inspection in August 2014. Current initiatives that are also contributing to the town’s progress include Sustainable Princeton’s organic compost program, leadership awards, great ideas breakfasts and a green schools resolution, which was passed by the schools coalition this year.
“Our goal is to raise awareness and become a resource on how to save energy, reduce waste and really reduce our town’s carbon footprint," Landis said. “Achieving the certification would really give us something that we can all say we did together."
Although the home auditing program does not involve the student body, Co-President of Greening Princeton Misha Semernov ’15 said that the efficient disposal of waste is a hot topic on campus. This semester, the group is running a recycling pilot program in 1939 and Edwards Halls, which it hopes to expand through awareness campaigns.
“It’s stupid because at the end of the day all of our materials are collected single-stream anyway. So the janitors will collect it and then they’ll mix it up and put it all in one truck,” Semernov said in response to the current recycling system.
He also said that he would like to collaborate with Sustainable Princeton in the future and that he admired their composting system, which he hopes to replicate in the eating clubs.