CALPIRG Aims to Increase 5C Energy Conservation

The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) Energy Service Corps, a program that utilizes a three-pronged approach to promote conservation of energy, is starting its second year at the Claremont Colleges. The program is run in partnership with AmeriCorps.

“There’s basically three main goals: K-12 education, campus outreach and community outreach,” Visibility Intern Nickelle Raschick PO ’15 said.

The community outreach program involves energy surveys and home improvement projects. 

“We’re going door to door and giving energy surveys," Liza Baskir PZ '12 said. "We evaluate how people are using energy, and we give them one tip for how they can start saving energy. We actually ask them to pledge to make the change and call them about a month later. Eighty percent of people said they had made the change.” 

“We want to encourage them to save energy, and just by bringing it up it does help a lot of people save energy,” Community Outreach Intern Rob Knickerbocker PO’15 said.

CALPIRG organizers at the 5Cs will conduct 250 surveys inquiring about appliance and energy usage. 

“Out of those 250 surveys, about 50 of those will let us do audits, where we go in and actually see exactly what they can change,” Knickerbocker said. 

The suggestions include unplugging appliances not in use and switching to energy-efficient light bulbs.

“A lot of it involves easy things you can do,” Raschick said. 

The CALPIRG team will also work on larger home projects this year.

“We’re shooting for ten weatherizations, which is when we seal up cracks in people’s doors and windows to help them save heating energy, and also install light bulbs for them to help them save on their electricity bill and to help the environment,” Knickerbocker said. 

CALPIRG will conduct these projects in the Claremont, San Bernardino, Pomona and Upland areas.

“We want to do more in lower-income houses, because those are the people who can actually see a big difference in their electricity bills,” Knickerbocker said. “We’re going to try to do either a mayor’s house or a congressman’s house."

CALPIRG is also hoping to weatherize a building at one of the 5Cs, although the specific building has not been chosen yet. 

The K-12 education program involves speaking to children at local schools. 

“Depending on the family they come from, sustainability is not always promoted in the home, so it will be really great if we can teach them," Raschick said. "Then they can pass it on to their parents, who also don’t always know what they can do.” 

CALPIRG also hopes to make an impact at the 5Cs.

“One of the things we did was not just outreach to the community, outreach to the kids, but also outreach to the campuses,” Baskir said. 

The first event to raise awareness for energy conservation is Music and Moonlight Oct. 28, which will feature student performers.

“It’s completely candlelit, so there is no energy used,” Raschick said. 

The second event on campus will be Dorm Wars, a competition between the residence halls to save the most energy.

These events are run by 10 core interns and roughly 40 volunteers who can join at any time. 

“We’re a lot more organized this year and we’ve got Melanie, our campus organizer. She’s really motivated and is pushing us to do more,” Raschick said. “This is definitely going to be a bigger year for us.”