Editor‘s note: This is part of a series looking at participants in Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Green Workplace Challenge. The second annual contest had a line up of more than 100 participants during the year ended May 31. Large and small firms, nonprofits, universities and government entities competed to see who could save the most energy, waste and water.
Making choices to reduce energy takes awareness.
“Everyone here has the right mindset. People engage in behaviors that allow us to keep energy use low and reduce our environmental impact,” said Jeaneen Zappa, executive director of Conservation Consultants Inc.
“That doesn't mean it’s always easy,” she noted. “For example when you’re sick, it means going out to search for tea tree oil wipes instead of using Clorox brand.”
Conservation Consultants Inc. achieved the highest energy performance in this year‘s Green Workplace Challenge, and saving more energy than the 23 other groups in its category.
The small South Side nonprofit also beat out larger competitors by winning the overall Top Energy Saver award, which is presented to the organization that demonstrated the highest percentage of reduction in energy use, measured by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star.
Since its founding in 1978, Conservation Consultants’ goal has been to teach responsible energy use and identify improvements to make buildings more efficient through energy audits and utility programs.
The CCI center also serves as an exemplar of energy efficiency, from the exterior solar photovoltaic system, which provides 15 percent of the center’s monthly electricity, to the interior low flow toilets and Energy Star qualified furnaces and chillers.
The staff uses the workplace as a teaching tool. Docents take tour groups of students, teachers, young adults, and anyone else who books a time slot, through the building and highlight energy efficient features. Educational displays include a keyhole panel that allows visitors to see the building’s interior foam insulation, comparisons of normal and low-flow shower heads, and dirty and clean air filters.
“We showcase different technologies in a simple way for kids and everyday consumers to actually see how to ‘do’ energy efficiency,” said Ms. Zappa.
The CCI staff also performs energy audits to help homeowners ensure they are using the least amount of energy comfortable for living. Local utilities hire the nonprofit for programs to help low-income families reduce energy use.
CCI hopes to expand its audit services to include middle- and higher-income homes. The organization recently received funding from the Heinz Endowment for strategic planning.
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