“Take Charge! Student Energy Education and Action” engages high-school- and college-aged youth to reach out to their communities with information about energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs.
At the start of 2013, over 1,500 Student Energy Ambassadors (SEAs) have conducted presentations and service-learning activities, connecting with some 36,000 Colorado residents by providing information and resources to reduce energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. The statewide project was developed in partnership with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
More About Take Charge!
By conducting presentations and service-learning activities, SEAs implement concrete actions in their communities while communicating the associated environmental issues. The predominant service activity is the Porch Bulb Project, in which SEAs go door-to-door offering to swap the front porch light bulb from an incandescent to an energy efficient bulb. At the same time, SEAs inform residents about available resources that will help them to reduce their energy use by changing their habits or by making physical improvements.
Before an outreach, SEAs receive training on how energy is generated, used and wasted, as well as careers related to energy. While completing the service activity, SEAs are developing skills in communication, community engagement, data collection and hands-on implementation — skills they can use at home, in their communities and in future endeavors.
“Groundwork Denver has helped me explore the outside world, to meet new people and to be more complete as a good citizen. It is indeed helpful and needed because not everyone is motivated enough to responsibly use energy.”
~ Quang Nguyen, former SEA, Green Team member and student at Duke University
In training these youth with diverse skills and new ways to express themselves — as they partner and interact with local entities such as other students, municipal offices and community groups — SEAs are making a difference in their communities and at a global level. The annual impacts (extrapolated from surveying 1,000+ residents touched by the project) include:
- 1,466,494 kilowatt-hours of electricity reduced,
- 411,315 therms of natural gas reduced,
- 3,689 tons of CO2 emissions prevented, and
- $501,539 in energy costs saved.
Using less energy also means a reduction in virgin resource extraction and water demand.
Neighborhoods selected for Take Charge! are typically ones with older homes and residents with lower incomes. SEAs are helping these residents in their communities who tend to have larger energy bills and less ability to pay them. SEAs return from these outreach activities feeling empowered because they have accomplished something tangible while helping vulnerable members of their communities. “In an age of sound bites, political posts capped at 140 characters, and the emotional disconnect of talking to someone on a computer, there’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation to really make an impact,” said Julian Adorne, a former SEA, about Take Charge!’s door-knocking model.
The Take Charge! project has been conducted in the following communities:
- Colorado Springs
- Commerce City
- Fort Collins
- Glenwood Springs
- Grand Junction
- Highlands Ranch
- New Castle
- Steamboat Springs