TWP and AHDESA Inaugurate the Renewable Energy Training and Demonstration Center

honduras renewable energy training and demonstration center
Ignacio Osorto (center), Director of AHDESA, and TWP International Director Sebastian Africano (right), cut the ribbon on the new Renewable Energy Training and Demonstration Center in Honduras.

On August 17th, TWP and our partner organization, Asociación Hondureña para el Desarrollo (AHDESA), inaugurated the Renewable Energy Training and Demonstration Center in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The Center has been developed as part of our work with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas’ (ECPA) Improving Access to Clean Energy in Latin America initiative. Since November 2011, TWP and AHDESA have been working as “Implementing Partners” with the ECPA to promote clean energy, low carbon development, and climate-resilient growth in Central America.

The new Renewable Energy Training & Demonstration Center is powered by a 2kW solar PV system and wind energy. In addition, AHDESA has all of the clean cookstove models that they produce on display as well as an array of Cleantech products that they sell to communities who lack access to the energy grid.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the event!

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Photo of the Week: Solar Heating for Native American Families

solar heater
Rachel Blomberg stands next to a solar heating system that she raised funds for and helped install. Thank you, Rachel! You support has brought clean, sustainable heat to families in need.

Help fund the new Red Cloud Training Annex!

Click photo to enlarge

 Demand for the trainings offered by TWP’s Tribal Renewable Energy Program is high as many Native Americans are developing a deeper desire for green jobs and for helping their tribes adopt new renewable energy practices.  Fortunately for this Program, a recent gift from a generous Trees, Water & People donor has allowed us to purchase and construct the basic frame for the new Red Cloud Training Annex.  This Annex will nearly double the number of trainees and volunteers we can accommodate.

Besides more indoor housing, the new facility will have a much needed kitchen, a classroom and presentation area, showers, and a study and living area. This recent gift enabled us to get four walls up and install a ground source heating system, but we really need your help to build the interior walls and acquire the materials and equipment needed that will transform the new building into renewed hope and real skills.

Your support will enable us to provide the practical skills and assistance to help Native Americans start new renewable energy businesses and get good paying, green jobs.

 With your help, we can cooperatively develop a new way that honors the old ways. Your caring and sharing will truly make a world of difference – where good people solve problems by contributing what they know and what they have, so that all people have a real chance at a sustainable future.

To make a donation to the new annex click here and in the “comments” section write “Red Cloud Annex”.

Thank you for supporting renewable energy and green job training on tribal lands!

-Richard Fox, Executive Director, Trees, Water & People

Notes from the Field: TWP and PROLEÑA Unveil the Nicaraguan National Climate Change Center

by Jon Becker, TWP Board President

Richard and I are up at 5:30 for a quick breakfast at Hotel Don Quijote before Marlyng Buitrago comes to pick us up for our first field day in Nicaragua.  Marlyng is the sharp, do-everything force of nature who significantly drives PROLEÑA, our in-country partner here of many years.  We travel through the Managua morning light and teeming crowds of pedestrians – people heading to jobs, uniformed kids on their way to school.  First stop – Managua Channel 14, where we are guests on a chatty morning talk show.  Marlyng has arranged the publicity as part of this week’s upcoming event to mark the inauguration of the Nicaraguan National Climate Change Center, a partnership dreamed up by TWP and PROLEÑA, with additional support from ECPA, the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas.  The talk is about clean cookstoves, reforestation, help for the poor, renewable energy, and Nicaragua taking a leadership role in the whole Central American region in facing a changing future.  We wrap up, run out the door, and dash across town to Channel 12, where we do the same thing over again.  This time we follow a local rap group, which I hope has the TV audience charged up to hear our message.  It’s all live TV, and I’d say Richard and Marlyng nail it in one take (as if they had a choice!).

(L to R) Marlyng Buitrago, Richard Fox, and Jon Becker at the site of the new Nicaraguan National Climate Change Center.

Now it’s field time, we get back in the PROLEÑA truck, and head out of Managua to the northwest, with the huge expanse of Lake Managua on our right, El Volcan Momotombo peeking in and out of our horizon.  Instantly, the urban, barrio scene of Managua gives way to rural and open space, scattered trees (due to decades of over cutting), and dessicated grasslands (we’re in the middle of the dry season now).  About 45 kilometers up the road, in the rolling hills near La Paz Centro, we pull over at a nondescript spot along the road, get out, and remove a section of fencing so we can begin our walk on a piece of land we helped PROLEÑA purchase last year.  These six acres probably have an assortment of rural agricultural past lives, including cattle grazing, and we find a few fruit trees as we walk.  But Marlyng’s eyes and spirit are charged as she gives us the tour of the future home of the Nicaraguan National Center for Climate Change.  

Inauguration of the Nicaraguan National Climate Change Center

PROLEÑA has spent the last decade inventing itself as a leader in reforestation, clean cookstoves, and bio-mass energy issues, and now dares to imagine embracing an even broader agenda of critical environmental and development issues facing their people.  She tells us of plans for classroom buildings, cookstove production facilities, tree planting areas, and renewable energy demonstrations.  It gives me chills to squint my eyes and imagine this becoming real.  Challenges – financial, political, and practical – and years of hard work stand in between us in these empty fields and one day seeing the National Climate Change Center serving all of Central America.  But today, alongside Marlyng and Richard, I am a believer.  This work will be possible with the combined efforts of PROLEÑA, ECPA, and you, as a supporter of Trees, Water & People.

Marlyng shows off a three-burner Emelda clean cookstove at the PROLEÑA office in Managua, Nicaragua.

The Center will have a variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency demonstrations including the solar electric array, a full series of Cleantech solar products, and various clean cookstove models and kilns. In addition, it will focus on researching and transferring best practices for integral forest management to the Nicaraguan forestry community and industry. The Center is being developed as an educational demonstration site that will help institutions, NGOs, and Community-based Organizations (CBOs) learn how to adapt to climate change.

This project is made possible through funding from the ECPA’s energy and climate awards. Trees, Water & People, along with partner organizations, are  implementing “Improving Access to Clean Energy in Latin America.” The project activities will contribute to ECPA’s efforts to promote clean energy, low carbon development, and climate-resilient growth.

In the coming years, we will have many exciting updates on our work with ECPA in Central America. We hope you will stay tuned!

To learn more about TWP’s work with ECPA click here.

Notes from the Field: Solar Heating Arrives to the Navajo Nation

by Lacey Gaechter, National Director

solar air heater Navajo
Eva Stokely inspects her new solar air heater outside her home in Shiprock, NM.
Eva and Lacey outside the school named for Mrs. Stokely.

Last week I traveled with Henry Red Cloud – our Tribal Renewable Energy Program partner – to Shiprock, New Mexico, for Trees, Water & People’s (TWP) first ever project with the Navajo (Diné) Nation. TWP donated and installed a solar air heating system on Eva and Pete Stokely’s home, two retired Diné teachers, home. It turns out that Eva and Pete were the first Navajo teachers hired in the Shiprock district of the reservation. It was really an honor to meet people who played such an important role in that turning point in history – when education returned to the Diné people. Eva actually ended up becoming a school principal and was eventually honored by having a school named after her – Eva B. Stokely Elementary School. While I was sitting with her at her kitchen table, hearing a little bit about her background, she surprised me by offering a tour of the local schools. “I like to show them off.” She explained. And so it was that I had the opportunity, along with my amazing trip photographer and intern, Christy Proulx, to see not only Eva B. Stokely Elementary, but also Shiprock Associated Schools, for which Eva now serves as a board member. Something to be proud of indeed; both of these schools offer hope for the next generation!

To many people, Eva serves as a community leader, and we are very excited to have a solar air heater saving her $20-$60 a month on her heating bills, not to mention reducing her fossil fuel use by 20-30%! With Eva to spread the word, we look forward to bringing many more heaters to the Diné people. To learn more about TWP’s Tribal Renewable Energy Program click here.

Thanks for Your Support at the 2nd Annual Rhythms for the Planet!

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Wow! We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout at this year’s Rhythms for the Planet fundraiser. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to support Trees, Water & People’s work; we couldn’t do this work without your generosity.

We would like to send some special thank yous out to our volunteers, interns, and sponsors who donated time, money, and in-kind donations to the event. We are always humbled by the outpouring of support from the Fort Collins business community and this year is no exception to that sentiment.

Rhythms for the Planet Sponsors

Support Tribal Renewabale Energy When You Offset Your Impact

Every year, each of our solar air heaters  prevents 1.39 tons of carbon emissions from being generated by its combustible alternatives. When you contribute to this renewable energy Carbon Offset option, you help not only our environment, but also the struggling families that will now receive free, clean heat from the sun. To learn more or to purchase carbon offsets today please click here.

How do we calculate your offset?

Calculations for CO2 Offsetting by Solar Heaters

Your carbon offset purchase goes into a dedicated fund at Trees, Water & People to build “carbon offset heaters.” Once we have sold 28 tons of carbon offsets (the total lifetime of avoided emissions for one heater), that means we have enough money to build a solar air heater collector panel. We combine these carbon offsets funds, which supply the collector panel, with existing funds to pay for the remainder of the heater kit and its installation. That means that, thanks to you, our “carbon offset heaters” will be up and running, preventing the use of carbon-based fuels, and heating homes of families in need. We would not be able to build these heaters without your contribution!

Our “carbon offset heaters” only go to homes that would otherwise get heat from electricity or fire wood, both very common heat-sources on Native American reservations, where we distribute almost all of our systems. The average carbon dioxide emissions avoided by using solar air heaters instead of wood or electricity is 3,072 pounds annually according to the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance ( At 2,204 pounds per metric ton, that means our heaters avoid 1.39 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Barring any damage, our collector panels have a 20 year lifespan, leading to a total of 27.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide avoided in a panel’s lifetime.

2012: The International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

We are proud supporters of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All because we believe that every human being on Earth deserves access to the energy needed to live a healthy and prosperous life.

“Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive.”

-Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, January 2012

To learn more about the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All please visit the official website:

Bringing Renewable Energy to Rural Central America

by Megan Maiolo-Heath, Communications Coordinator

solar lamps
The first shipment of "cleantech" solar products arrive at the Asociación Hondureña para el Desarrollo (AHDESA) office, ready to light the homes of families in Honduras.

According to an October 2010 Wireless Intelligence report, Latin America is now the second largest wireless consuming region with more than 530 million users representing over 11% of the global market. There was also exponential growth noted in the Caribbean region. With prices of phones ranging from USD$30 – USD$100 or more, it is evident that even impoverished people with limited resources will find a way to invest in products they consider important to their lives. This market penetration of cell phones may well serve as a model for selling other high-benefit technological products, but it also provides a significant incentive for the successful introduction and adoption of solar technology, in that all these cell phones need to be frequently and consistently recharged. For the many rural people living off-grid, this is often a considerable problem requiring frequent resolution with associated financial and time costs.

FireFly 12 Mobile_solar lighting
The Fire Fly is a solar lamp with a mobile charging station included.

At Trees, Water & People, we are working to address this issue by providing innovative new products such as solar lanterns with phone charging capability, making it possible to fulfill the increasing need for phone chargers, while at the same time introducing solar technology that provides additional economic and educational benefits, such as allowing families to work or study at night. These gateway renewable energy technologies are opening up great possibilities for lower carbon growth and development while improving access to modern energy products, services, and business opportunities to those currently without regular access.

Our new project will utilize our community development experience and new partnership with experts PowerMundo to provide a variety of inexpensive, high impact “Cleantech” products (i.e. items that improve household productivity and efficiency while reducing energy consumption, cost, waste, and pollution.) These will include items such as solar lanterns, solar cell phone chargers, solar panels, and human powered radios.

As Carl Pope recently wrote in Yale Environment 360, “More than a billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. The best way to bring it to them — while reducing greenhouse gas emissions — is to launch a global initiative to provide solar panels and other forms of distributed renewable power to poor villages and neighborhoods.”

We are proud to be a part of this global initiative, helping to bring impoverished families in Central America access to one of the most basic resources: energy.

Tribal Renewable Energy Program Update: Heaters Going Live on the Cheyenne River Reservation

by Lacey Gaechter, Assistant National Director

Thanks to the talents of our solar heater trainees, 68 households on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe will enjoy clean, free heat this winter, and for many more to come.

For the first time ever, Trees, Water & People hosted a Solar Heater Training conducted by two of our former students. Leo White Bear, a Shoshone Bannock from Fort Hall, Idaho, and Landon Means, a Northern Cheyenne Sioux from Montana both travelled to the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota to train five new crew members.

Leo and Landon spent 10 days in Eagle Butte, SD training the new recruits to install solar air heaters owned by their tribe. Subsequently, we received many positive survey results from our trainees, one of whom said that their trainers were, “very thorough and helpful and patient and most of all fun to work with.” Way to go Leo and Landon!

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is now paying their trainees to install their solar air heating systems.Thanks to our trainees for “paying it forward” so that dozens more families will be warm this winter!