Report from the Colorado Renewable Energy Conference

As I work on the SunMobile’s renewable energy and energy efficiency curriculum, I have found many great opportunities to learn more from leading experts in the field. Most recently, I attended the annual Colorado Renewable Energy Conference which was in held Pueblo, Colorado June 6-8 and put on by the Colorado Renewable Energy Society. I went to many break-out sessions that ranged from the latest in wind and solar energy to how such systems are financed and how vehicle technology is keeping up with the current fuel efficiency needs (or not!). I also attended two all day workshops — the first focused on teaching about energy, and the second dealt with emerging renewable energy technologies. The entire weekend was really a great way to touch bases with the many people I have worked with in the past and for meeting new people who share similar interests and goals for renewable energy, and letting them know about our environmental education programs.

Elizabeth

Eco-stove Study in Nicaragua

Here’s a report with lots of great pictures (for those who don’t speak Spanish) of several Nicaraguan communities where we will be doing the multi-year health study on how the Eco-stoves benefit local women. Partnering with us on this project are Colorado State University, PROLENA, and Casa de Mujer, a Nicaraguan NGO based in Granada.

Stuart

Sponsor a Lakota family

Through friends we came to understand that Lakota people living on reservations were paying up to 70% of their income just to pay their exorbitant heat and electricity bills. To help ease this problem, Trees, Water & People has been building and installing supplemental solar heat systems for Native American families living on reservations in the Western U.S. These solar heaters save 25-35% on heating bills, and we estimate that they will stay in service for 20-30 years. Besides keeping families warmer in the winter and saving significant money, the heaters have other benefits. Many families must choose between paying for heat, food, or medicine…a choice no one should have to make. Many families use the savings from our heaters to buy more food and medicine, so the heaters help improve health and nutrition.

Many Lakota women make beautiful star quilts. They often have to move in with other family members in the winter because their homes are too cold or too expensive to heat. When families are consolidated, there is no room for work on quilts, so this important source of income is lost during the long and bitterly cold winters. Each solar heating system costs about $1,200 for all of the material and the cost of installation. Currently, we have funding that covers about $800 of this cost, so we still need to raise about $400 per heater so we can get as many installed as possible before this next winter. We’re asking our friends and supporters to consider sponsoring a Lakota family so they can receive one of this heaters. You can help at whatever level you feel is appropriate. The Lakota are struggling…and they are holders of great wisdom. They still hear the life within the land and move with their ancestors along a powerful way. We hope you will help us to preserve this important culture and these important people.

Richard

TWP Celebrates 10th Birthday on Earth Day

For the last 10 years, every day has been Earth Day for one organization in Fort Collins. So fittingly on April 22nd, Trees, Water & People will celebrate its 10th birthday on the same day as the global environmental observance known as Earth Day.

Co-founders Stuart Conway and Richard Fox began Trees, Water & People (TWP) with the mission to improve people’s lives by helping them to conserve, protect, and manage the natural resources upon which their long term well-being depends. Together with the help of a dedicated staff and Board of Directors, Conway and Fox have delivered impressive results with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Internationally, TWP has built 25,000 fuel-efficient cook stoves throughout Central America and Haiti, preventing more than 175,000 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into our atmosphere. Compared to traditional open fire stoves, the improved stove uses 70% less wood, vents 90% of the toxic smoke out of the home, and reduces carbon emissions by a minimum of 1 metric ton per year. In 2005, TWP’s fuel-efficient stove project won the prestigious Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy presented in London by HRH Prince Charles. Other work in Central America includes the planting of more than 2 million trees and the creation of 7 tree nurseries to aid in reforestation efforts.

Work with Native American families on Tribal lands has also been a focus of TWP. They have installed more than 200 efficient solar heating systems on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota as part of their Tribal Lands Program. The solar heaters warm homes during frigid winter months while reducing energy bills by 20-30% for 2-3 decades. In 2007, TWP helped establish Lakota Solar Enterprises; one of the first and only 100% Native American owned and operated renewable energy businesses. In addition, TWP has conducted nearly 30 renewable energy workshops and demonstration installations on 10 reservations across the Great Plains.

On the regional level, TWP provides training and organizational support for watershed protection groups. With a focus on leadership development and fundraising, they offer workshops, individual training, staff evaluations, capacity building, and outreach assistance to the grassroots organizations working to preserve the quality and quantity of the water in the arid West.

This spring, TWP’s local Clean Energy Program will unveil its new SunMobile. This innovative traveling education tool will travel to Northern Colorado schools and community events educating students and residents about clean, renewable energy. The Clean Energy Program is also busy helping to install a 10kW photovoltaic system on the new Bethke Elementary as part of our “Renewables on Schools” initiative. This unit will provide about 10% of the building’s power during the school year and all of it during the summer months.

Over the past 10 years, Trees, Water & People has accomplished great things and looks forward to continuing their commitment to living every day like it’s Earth Day

Here are some numbers from the last ten years:

2,000,000 trees planted
+175,000 tons of carbon offset by fuel-efficient stoves
+115,000 people with reduced indoor air pollution
+25,000 fuel-efficient stoves built
+850 natural wind-breaks & shade trees planted
+202 watershed protection groups assisted
+200 solar heating systems installed
+175 local tree plantings organized
+97 watershed protection trainings hosted
+28 renewable energy workshops hosted
+10 tribal lands with renewable energy applications installed
+8 successful annual fundraising events
+7 international tree nurseries established
+3 outdoor science classrooms created with the City of Fort Collins
+1 SunMobile – traveling energy education for Northern Colorado

= One Organization Working For A Sustainable Future