Efficiency Vermont was named the 2011 Energy Star Partner of the Year award winner in the ‘Energy Efficiency Program Delivery for New Homes’ category.Sponsored annually by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the nationalawards recognize organizations, manufacturers and retailers that successfully promote and deliver Energy Star qualified products and services, saving consumers money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Award winners were selected from more than 9,000 organizations that participate in the Energy Star program.‘Efficiency Vermont is a leader in showing its customers how they can help protect our environment while saving energy and money,’ said Elizabeth Craig, acting director of the EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs. ‘Efficiency Vermont’s creative solutions are a model for fighting climate change through greater energy efficiency. We look to these winners to provide us energy efficiency leadership now and in the years to come.’Efficiency Vermont representatives attended the EPA awards recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 12.‘This award recognizes not only Efficiency Vermont and the Vermont Energy Star Homes (VESH) program, but the entire building community in Vermont,’ said Chris Gordon, residential new construction manager from Efficiency Vermont. ‘Our program co-sponsors, including, Vermont Gas Systems and Washington Electric Cooperative, as well as our partners, the individual builders around the state, are always striving to achieve greater energy efficiency.’In 2010, the average Energy Star home built in Vermont was 40 percent more energy efficient than a home built to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code.Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Service Board to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont’s environment. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) operates Efficiency Vermont under an appointment by the Vermont Public Service Board. VEIC is a Vermont-based nonprofit organization founded in 1986. Source: Efficiency Vermont.
Joe Mornini Helps Wounded Veterans Learn to KayakSix years ago, D.C.-area paddler Joe Mornini wanted to help wounded veterans coming home from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan rehabilitate their bodies and minds. In his free time, he started hosting kayaking clinics in pools at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Now Mornini’s nonprofit Team River Runner (teamriverrunner.org) has expanded across the country and includes taking disabled vets on paddling trips across North America. With minimal staff and a day job as a teacher, Mornini has focused on sustainable growth—letting vets in the program become instructors. Here are Mornini’s thoughts on the growth and inspiration of Team River Runner.My CauseThe main purpose is still to take wounded warriors out kayaking, but we’ve become more expansive. We have 25 chapters across the country. Now veterans who have gone through the program are taking leadership roles, becoming instructors, and starting their own chapters. One of our main missions is to get the veterans to own the programs themselves. We decided it was the best way for them to continue paddling when they leave Walter Reed. When they become leaders, this organization can grow on its own, and paddling remains part of their lifestyle.Paddling ProgressWe’ve learned so much about the therapeutic potential of kayaking over the past six years. Paddling is a state-of-the-art therapy for veterans with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. There’s also now a huge amount of work being done to create adaptive boats and equipment, so more disabled veterans can get into kayaking. The Veterans Administration has now added kayaking to its summer sports clinic. We’ve also recently added a program that takes blind veterans whitewater kayaking.A Leveling ExperienceSpending time on the water offers a chance to break a negative cycle, especially for people having problems re-entering the world after multiple deployments. Paddling works because it is a leveling experience. The other day I was on the Potomac River with four disabled veterans. One was injured by an explosive device, another was blind, another was missing a leg, and the last one had to have her boat carried to the put-in because she walks with arm braces. We ran into another boater on the water, and when I told him he was just passed by four people in my program, he didn’t believe me. That speaks volumes to the power of paddling. These veterans are not as disabled as they were before they got in boats. They’re able to reconnect physically, socially, and emotionally.Man On The MoveAfter I finish teaching each day, I’m either on the water with the vets or somewhere giving a presentation on the program. This summer, I took 10 disabled vets down the Grand Canyon. While I was gone, the program was run by a vet from Walter Reed. That’s what it’s all about.