Mac students measure neighborhood energy use

By Kathryn Zager

In early March, approximately fifty Macalester students and community members went door to door in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, conducting home-composting and energy use surveys and encouraging residents to attend one of two workshops on the subject.The workshops, which were hosted in the Campus Center over spring break, are part of a larger community project to increase home energy efficiency and household composting. The project is the result of a partnership between Minneapolis-based non-profit The Green Institute, Eureka Recycling and the Macalester-Groveland Community Council.

The project has three main components. In a research component, the organizations collected baseline data on home energy conservation and composting knowledge and practices. A second round of surveys will be conducted this summer to see what changes have been made.

The project is also part of a larger, statewide effort to make homes more energy efficient. Residents were able to attend an education workshop, and could then sign up for a subsidized in-home energy consultation and installation services.

The final component, composting, is unique to the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood. Residents who attended the workshop were eligible for a discounted composting bins and consultation.

The Macalester High Winds Fund, which was created to aid in community projects surrounding Macalester, has committed $30,000 to the project through Eureka Recycling, although Director Tom Welna ’86 said in an e-mail that not all of the funds have been spent yet.

“Macalester has been a great community partner,” said Carl Samuelson, a Metro Clean Energy Resource Team organizer at the Green Institute. “The High Winds Fund was the first money to come in.”

Kai Bosworth ’10, a student employee at the Green Institute, was responsible for recruiting Macalester students to go out into the community.

“The project is unique because we are asking questions completely on a community level,” Bosworth said. “The focus is on individual homes. It brings community members together, it gets people thinking about energy on a neighborhood level and other possibilities for the next step.”

Samuelson said that these efforts met with some success.

“There was an overwhelmingly positive response,” Samuelson said. “The biggest percentage of those who turned up at the workshops heard about it from a neighbor or student.