Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Interview by:Shane Clark
Gregory Jones is Oberlins Energy Advocate, part of POWERs initiative to help homeowners improve their energy efficiency. In his free time, Greg enjoys fishing and is a self-proclaimed sports nut. Cleveland teams, all the way!
Q: What are some words or images that come to mind when you think of Oberlin?
A: Oh, when I think of Oberlin, I think of a close-knit eco-friendly community, right off the bat. Theyre energy conscious, but not just energy conscious- theyre eco-conscious. And thats one of the reasons why I love working here. Also, maybe from the outside looking in, I can appreciate that strong community aspect. You can have the privilege of knowing your neighbors and knowing the neighborhood kids. This community offers you a lot of diversity, freedom, and a good interaction between the youth and the seniors.
Q: So how did you come to work in Oberlin as the POWER Energy Advocate?
A: I bugged the heck out of them. As soon as I heard that this position was being thought about and created, I let everyone know that they could get no one better to do the job and thats what I told them and thats how it came to be. This was a perfect fit for me.
Q: And whats it been like getting to know the Oberlin community through this job?
A: Its been a pleasure. Its been a real pleasure. Its been everything I envisioned, and more, and it continues to evolve. As POWER expands, it expands in areas that I wanted to expand in my own business and my own growth - in energy efficiency and water efficiency, carbon neutrality - all these are things that Ive studied and wanted to be involved in. Oberlin presents me that opportunity. So its not just a job, 9-5, I kind of live it and breathe it.
"This community offers you a lot of diversity, freedom, and a good interaction between the youth and the seniors."
Q: Can you explain what you do as an Energy Advocate?
A: As an energy advocate I do a first-step walk-through of a home. I visually go through a residence and find inadequacies in insulation levels and poorly functioning heating and cooling equipment. We look for different ways to be more efficient in the home through light bulbs, low-flow water fixtures and aerators on sinks. Then I match the homeowner up with existing programs that can help make the adjustments to that individuals home at no, or very low, cost to them. Thats another something thats unique to Oberlin- no one else in the county has an Energy Advocate, and maybe there are only a few of us in the country, to tell you the truth. So it makes Oberlin unique to have someone to focus on that for their residents. Its really for the whole communitys use.
Q: Have you experienced any mistrust or hesitancy from Oberlin residents about receiving walk-throughs?
A: Well, first of all, theres always a certain amount of mistrust when an unfamiliar man comes to the door. I think my life experiences have made me more comfortable watering down that initial animosity, with a smile, with a hello. So, with that in mind, theres really been, here, no barriers, no apprehension. and its BECAUSE of this community. Even the ones who arent into energy efficiency, or sustainability, you cannot help but know about it in this community because that's what this community revolves around.
So, me saying Im POWER, or energy efficiency, or sustainability, its not as foreign as it might be in another area.
"Every house in Oberlin could use caulking, air sealing, and insulation."
Q: Is there anything that everyone in Oberlin could do to right-off-the-bat improve their homes energy efficiency?
A: Caulk and air aealing. Every house in Oberlin could use caulking, air sealing, and insulation. If every house in Oberlin did that, it would make a SIGNIFICANT difference. That's something YOU can do. Get a tube of caulk and dont be afraid to get your hands dirty. Insulation is another thing you can do on your own. But, I mean, the easiest way to do ALL of that here in Oberlin, is to call me, and then have the professionals come out and do it for little or no cost- thats the whole point of the program. Its that easy, but the problem is getting people to call.
Q: People use the word sustainability to mean a lot of things. What does it mean to you?
A: It runs the same gamut as eco-efficiency. Those are the new buzzwords for the eco-friendly bunch. But sustainability is just to be able to maintain something however you want it to be.
Q: And how do you feel you contribute to sustainability in your personal life?
A: Doing what Im doing with POWER, trying to sustain an energy-efficient portfolio for the entire community, which is what I believe the entire idea is with POWER. I can envision other cities starting to operate their own grid power, like here in Oberlin, so that more communities become sustainable in their own right. I think thats the ideal picture of where we want to go as people in this country.In this kind of community, it could be really easy to think that everything is okay. Around you, all hell is breaking loose, but you dont see it because youre good right here. But things have to change, you cannot just stay. If you dont change, you become a dinosaur, and dinosaurs get extinct. Earth renews itself, just like we have the power to renew ourselves. Anytime weve faced a challenge thats this monumental, weve come up with a solution. So its not beyond us to create what we need to create, its just having cooperation and understanding from all parties involved to say this is what we need to do, and get it done.
Q: What do you think about the Environmental Dashboard as a tool for promoting resource awareness?
A: I think its a great tool, I think it should be expanded more. I think it should be put up at both ways coming into Oberlin. I mean it, you come into Oberlin, you see Environmental Dashboard, you know what were about. That in itself is going to bring some people with that mindset here, and when you have like minds in a like place, you make great things happen.
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