Auburn Climate Action Plan Team Weekly Blog

Auburn’s Bustin’ a CAP (Climate Action Plan)

Week 7 (Dec.3-7th)

How’s it going everyone? Because we’re doing great!

Team Auburn has just completed our last full week of IQP and we’re on track to finish up. With reflections the main topic of this week’s blog we thought we’d share our thoughts on our project.

If we were taught one thing by this experience, it would be learning how to roll with the punches. From the start when we realized that the database completed by the previous Auburn group wasn’t going to be effective, we knew that the project wasn’t going to go ‘according to plan.’ We focused our efforts on completing Auburn’s emissions inventory and capturing the community’s interest, and the result is definitely something to be proud of.

With the emissions inventory we learned to be persistent, persistent, and persistent. All three of us made numerous phone calls, follow up calls, and written email reminders for the utility data that we needed for an accurate emissions inventory. With Sandy and Athena causing damage throughout New England, we figured we’d be waiting on responses from NSTAR and National Grid so while waiting we did research on other CAPs, Auburn itself, and personal energy savings initiatives. We learned a lot of valuable information that we felt was applicable to our situation. When we finally got the data that we needed after weeks of waiting, we were not disappointed because we used our time effectively. We always got the help that we needed at the office, and truly enjoyed our experience of working in the town hall: everyone here really cares about Auburn and wanted to see us succeed.

The support of the community is essential to the success of a CAP in Auburn. With the responses to a survey at the beginning of our project being mostly negative, and in denial of climate change, we are hoping that our efforts to turn this opinion around will not go unnoticed. The goal was to educate Auburn on climate change and the effectiveness of a CAP with pamphlets, flyers, a webpage and working with Auburn High School to educate the residents about energy reduction.

Although we didn’t complete the drafting of a CAP, we had a lot of fun with this project. We are extremely happy with our achievements this term and hope to see a drafted CAP somewhere in the near future for Auburn.

Week 6 (Nov.26-30th)

Hey all!

We have had a busy week here in Auburn wrapping up our data collection, putting up fliers in town, and finishing up our final report draft. We also were able to meet with the Auburn wind turbine committee and give them some insight into our progress and research on implementation of an energy reduction plan (a.k.a. climate action plan) in Auburn

This week we had the opportunity to become more engaged with the town and its’ residents. Everyone we encountered was very nice and helpful. Caroline visited numerous shops at the main intersection in town to distribute our informational fliers and the shop owners and employees were more than happy to place the fliers in their shops.

Also, Ilya drafted a PDF for the Town of Auburn website that was full of very helpful and detailed information on energy reduction measures and benefits to residents, the municipality, and the commercial businesses. This information will provide those interested with information on rebates and state incentives for taking different energy reduction measures as well as hyperlinks to a number of useful websites.

As mentioned previously data collection was finally finished meaning Josh could finally start making the baseline emissions graphs that can be used to really drive home the CO2 emissions and repercussions if no action is to be taken. Finishing gathering the data also means we can finally start making recommendations for the Town of Auburn and the oncoming IQP project group.

On November 28th our project group was asked to meet with the Auburn wind turbine committee and give a small presentation on our project and progress. Because this group is active in the town and will potentially be working closely with the next IQP team coming to work with Auburn it was important for us to inform them of what we have been doing and our recommendation for the future. The committee seemed very happy with all the work we have accomplished thus far and was really excited to help in any way they can. They were able to give great ideas for places to display our fliers as well as give our group potential contact information, which will be helpful in gaining town support. This meeting was seen as very helpful to our group and our Sponsor, Adam Burney, and all group members were very pleased with the outcome.

We are pleased to say that no serious speed bumps popped up this week, but fingers crossed that stays true. Our group is really excited for the approaching week, being able to finalize all of our efforts, and seeing the outcome of the past 14 weeks of hard work.

Week 4 (Nov.12-16th)

Great news this week, we have confirmed that all of our required data for the emissions inventory is in or will be coming in early next week! This is huge!!! We can finally start looking at Auburn as a whole and really get to see the issues laid out in front of us, and based off of this analysis we can start drafting a Climate Action Plan (CAP) for Auburn.

Here’s an update to everyone on what happened this week. Ilya polished up his ‘on the phone’ skills trying to get scraps of information for the inventory, as well as finishing the waste management sector of our inventory. Josh became an ICLEI software guru in learning the CACP and CAPPA programs by listening to the most monotone tutorial ever and started entering our data. Caroline worked on data gathering and an informational PowerPoint for the possibility of the Green Flag Award for Auburn High School with no response, as well as our first action item recommendations for our CAP!

Our group has definitely encountered some bumps along the road in the data gathering process, but with a phone call from Bob Fitzpatrick (MassCEC) and Owen Walsh (Nationalgrid) both promising data on Auburn’s electric usage have lifted our spirits! Although we were stuck on this for a few days, we did not let this slow down our progress. We drafted a list of action items that we thought were feasible through suggestions from ICLEI and our analysis of past CAPs. We had a discussion with Adam Burney regarding all of our suggestions and came away with a list of items that he thought we should prioritize, as well as the items that he thought would be ineffective.

We were also asked to create a webpage by Prof. Dehner that gives the residents of Auburn resources for home efficiency improvement: these changes include weatherization, CFL light bulbs, efficient shower heads and etc. We started gathering data for this endeavor and hope to have the webpage running after Thanksgiving break.

Overall, we have worked hard on this project because we feel like we can really leave a lasting impact on Auburn, and do something positive for the town and its residents. Overall, our team feels like our project is what we expected it to be. With new twists every day, we are never bored, and always excited to come in to work.

Happy Turkey Day!

Week 3 (Nov.5-Nov.9th)

We just finished our 3rd week of IQP, and we’re almost done with our data collection! Right on time with our timeline. This week we were able to finalize our natural gas and transportation CO2 output calculations and combine them into an excel file with procedures. This was to ensure that data collection remains consistent as Auburn proceeds with the CAP. Ilya was also able to calculate the emissions coming from the waste management sector and is still working on finalizing them into an excel file with the procedure compiled, when that is done we can put his work into the master CO2 emissions file. The only sector we still need to get is residential and commercial electric, which were hoping to have done early next week.

This week Josh got to color on a really big map and no it wasn’t just for fun.  Josh was finding the total distance of roadway in Auburn. He went through highlighting all the roads after he found the lengths so there was no repetition of measurements.

We are still waiting to hear back from AHS about a student green team, Adam is going to be contacting the super intendant for us, so hopefully that will be able to get the ball rolling on that idea. Caroline has done a lot of research on different energy saving facts, and incentives for the community members of Auburn in an effort to gain their support for energy reduction.

We’re excited to see what next week will have in store for us, hopefully we will be able to move forward with our goals at the same or faster pace as we have been able to keep thus far.

Week 2 (Oct. 29-Nov. 2):

It has been another exciting week in the Auburn Town Hall!

We have managed to make some good progress with our project in the past few days, even with Hurricane Sandy interrupting our work week.

After getting a good number of responses from our survey that we put out last week we realized that we are going to have to work on our selling point for the Climate Action Plan. Instead of focusing on he environmental benefits for Auburn we have decided to move more towards personal financial gains that will come from energy reduction through the residential sector. To do this we are researching energy reduction “fun facts” so we will be able to better explain the amount of energy that is being used by comparing leaving a light on in someone’s home to how many cups of tea you could make, or how far you could drive with the amount of energy needed to run a standard dishwasher.

We have also been working diligently on gathering our baseline emission information, which has proved to be a less than ideal process because no organizations has residential or commercial energy use of Auburn documented in one document/database/etc. Not to worry though, we were able to contact an employee of Energy Information Administration (EIA), Amy Sweeny, and she was extremely helpful with giving ideas and information to find average natural gas use in the town. We are still waiting to hear back from National Grid on the electric use and Josh has been working hard on tracking the transportation patterns in Auburn so we can get the vehicle emissions baseline.

On another note we have also been trying to contact the Auburn High School about starting a Student Green Team by emailing the staff advisor or the Environmental Club along with the school principal. We’re still waiting for a response. We also were able to speak with Bob Fitzpatrick, the Direction or Government Affairs for MassCEC, about possible funding ideas for the Auburn CAP. He wasn’t able to give us many specifics but he is trying to connect us with someone that will be able to better answer our grant questions.

Our team is really happy with the progress made so far and can’t wait to see how the rest or our IQP goes.

Week 1 (Oct. 23-Oct. 26): Reflections on the First Week

ID 2050 is over and so begins the fun part!! Over the next 7 weeks we will be working with our sponsor, The Department of Development and Inspectional Services, which is located in the Auburn Town Hall and specifically Adam Burney, the Town Planner.

This week we got to finally start work with the employees of the Auburn Town Hall, attend the bi-annual Auburn Town Meeting, research possible grants for Auburn, found the database created by last years’ IQP team and were able to run it through some tests (good job Ilya). All very fun and exciting!!

During the Town Meeting we were able to distribute out first pamphlet and survey, allowing our team to hit the ground running with our project and get insight to the views of the town members. We also got a shout out from one of the speakers at the town meeting, received various awards, and thunderous applause, giving our team high hopes for the weeks to come. Well not really, but we did get a shout out. We have also been on a mission to find grants that would help Auburn implement some of the recommendations that we make this term immediately. So far we have received a whopping 7 responses from our survey, thanks to a great tip from one of the other Worcester IQP members to place our pamphlets at Auburn Town Pizza (thanks Will) … sorry Josh your response was not counted.

Next week we’re planning on continuing educating the people of Auburn on our plans for the CAP and gathering more responses from our survey. We also plan to contact Auburn High School to see if there would be any interest in the student body to start a student Green Team or to simply help our team with gaining community support, we will continue working on the database, and set up a booth at the mall and possibly other highly popular locations where we will be able to educate the community and allow them to meet us.