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Workshop Puts Energy Into Saving

annieWorkshop Puts Energy Into Saving

By SARAH KINGSBURY - Staff Writer
Posted: 02/01/2009 12:00:00 AM PST

Annie Rafferty writes down what the class believes it means to be "green" during a lesson...

CHICO -- Energy-saving techniques historically become more popular in a slow economy because they save money. Several upcoming workshops offered by The Training Center at Butte College aim to do just that - help businesses and consumers reduce wasteful environmental behavior.

However, the workshops are intended to reach beyond fluctuations in the economy so that the effects of sustainability can be felt in a financial sense in the long run.

At the first workshop, held Saturday, Casey Doran, a project manager for a construction company in Oroville, was looking for ways to present energy-saving measures to developers and subcontractors in a way that would be financially appealing.

In a recent project, the company installed solar tubes at a school that capture sunlight in a dome and redirect it into a room with consistent brightness throughout the day. The lighting was met with overwhelming enthusiasm from the teachers who found the natural lighting clearer and more pleasant than standard fluorescent lights, Doran said.

Her boss told her to find more ways the company could expand sustainable construction practices.
"We're just looking more and more for this kind of stuff," she said.

In a brief presentation at the workshop, Les Jauron, vice president of planning, explained that the administration at Butte College looked for ways to improve energy efficiency when the campus moved to its present location in the center of Butte County in the 1970s. Before the new buildings were constructed, students demanded school leaders "do things differently" to make the campus more environmentally friendly.

Administrators decided that "dollars spent on the capital side would save us a lot more dollars on the operations side," Jauron said.

More than 30 years later, school officials still seem to follow that line of thinking as the college works to complete the second phase of solar projects, which will cover an estimated 50 percent of its electricity needs. Though still wrestling with transportation issues, Jauron said school officials are aiming for the college to be carbon-neutral by 2015.

"People perform better when they have natural light, when they're breathing clean air and when they're not breathing toxins," he said.

Besides commercial construction, the workshop also focused on how individuals could alter their behavior and thinking patterns to improve worldwide standards of living.

The leader of the workshop, John Stallman, who is also the sustainable coordinator at Butte College, encouraged consumers to consider the ethics of buying goods that are priced too low. Items sold in big-box stores are often not representative of the actual price of the good. Instead, cost-saving measures are passed along through low wages to third-world manufacturers or reduced health insurance benefits to corporate labor, to name a few, Stallman said.

Though the workshops are directed more toward work-force training, at least one individual consumer, Michelle Cannon, planned to use the tips in her day-to-day activities. Cannon, who lives in Butte Creek Canyon, said she hopes to one day install an acre of solar panels on her property that she could use to power her own home and sell to neighbors.

Until then, she decided to begin taking small steps toward sustainability, praising a long list of Internet resources provided to attendees that she said she planned to use.

"This really made me think about what I bought yesterday - and now it makes me think, 'What am I going to do with the scraps of what I bought yesterday?' " she said.

The next Green Education Workshop is scheduled for Feb. 21 and will focus on energy and utility bill savings.

Staff writer Sarah Kingsbury can be reached at 896-7761 or skingsbury@chicoer.com.

Butte College | 3536 Butte Campus Drive, Oroville CA 95965 | General Information 530.895.2511

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