The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) presented the Climate and Energy Leadership Awards to the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE), City Blossoms, Inc., and the Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School for their outstanding efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency.
These annual awards recognize and encourage local actions that advance the regional climate and energy goals established by leaders at COG, and plans that prioritize community engagement.
The awards were distributed Wednesday at the October COG Board of Directors Meeting by Fairfax County Supervisor and COG Climate, Energy, and Environment Policy Committee (CEEPC) Chair Penny Gross and COG’s Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee (ACPAC) Chair Gretchen Goldman.
Learn more about the award recipients and their innovative programs below:
Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy
Joan Kelsch, Rebecca Case, Travis Vu, and Adam Segel-Moss accept the Climate Award on behalf of AIRE.
The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy’s (AIRE) Energy Lending Library makes it easy to check out a thermal camera, a box of 10 different LED bulbs, energy meter, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books through the library system free of charge. Over the past few years, the library has made over 730 loans, and the 23 thermal cameras in circulation currently have a two-week waiting list. The program is the first of its kind in the country. Administrators freely share information about the library with other communities, and it has been replicated by area jurisdictions and generated interest from national partners. The LED Bulb Sampler allows patrons to sample 10 different LED lights at home at no cost while learning about base shapes, brightness (lumens), energy (watts), and color (Kelvin). Twenty-three kill-a-watt energy meters are available to track energy consumption of residents’ favorite devices. The library integrates this program with the county’s home energy rebates and solar co-op programs for residents to learn about their home energy, employ energy efficiency fixes, and install solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems on their properties. The work is helping the county achieve goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 75 percent by 2050.
Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School
Tara McNerney accepts the Climate Award on behalf of Mundo Verde Bilingual Charter School.
Opened in 2011, Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School has a mission to foster academic achievement among a diverse group of students and prepare them to be successful and compassionate global stewards of their communities. The school is founded on a project-based curriculum rooted in sustainability themes, including climate, energy, the human impact, and sustainable engineering solutions. Located in two, newly renovated USGBC LEED certified Platinum and Gold buildings in the District of Columbia, energy use is predicted at 50 percent below baselines, and 48 percent below CO2 emission standards. In Verde’s expeditionary learning model, students study topics in depth for 10-12 weeks and finish with a unique product that they share with the community. For example, this year, after researching, the students determined that solar power was the best model for Mundo Verde and made a video to advocate for renewable energy at the school. Students then explained to area residents how and why they could switch their Pepco bills to renewable energy. Additionally, the school subsidizes bus transportation from neighborhoods with high concentrations of students—notably Wards 1 and 4—for its 563 students and more than 100 staff. Mundo Verde was named a Catalyst school by the Green Schools National Network in 2017 and is in a cohort of ten Catalyst schools nationwide that will share best practices and lessons learned in the field of “green” schools across the education sector.
City Blossoms, Inc.
Elizabeth Milo and Rebecca Lemos-Otero accept the Climate Award on behalf of City Blossoms, Inc.
City Blossoms, Inc. is recognized for its work developing creative, kid-driven green spaces within the District of Columbia. For over eight years, the company has worked to address local issues through community green spaces that provide a platform for youth and adults to interact with the natural environment. The group has supported the creation of over 100 spaces nationwide, with two locations in the District and a third planned by the end of 2018. The District locations include Girard Street Children’s Garden in Columbia Heights and the Marion Street Intergenerational Garden in Shaw. Instructors curate age-appropriate activities for each garden including cooking classes, gardening lessons, and art projects. In 2016, 264 hours of programming were conducted, including 43 fields trips for children ages 2-18 and nine community-centered events in the District, with a 12 percent increase in child participation. By the end of 2017, it is expected to have 1500 participants, 50 school trips, 10 community events, and 1,000 volunteers, in addition to 811 pounds of fresh produce cultivated and distributed to volunteers, local organizations, and students. City Blossoms’ mission is to continue to transform underused land into spaces to provide extraordinary events to give children exposure to the practice of ecology, urban agriculture, nutritious food, water conservation, composting, and community.
MORE: Climate and Energy Leadership Awards