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Energy efficiency

By Staff | May 23, 2014

Shepherdstown played host to a Sierra Club Energy Efficiency training workshop and Solar Energy Tour on Saturday.

Visitors from as far away as Wyoming County, W.Va. traveled to Shepherdstown for a weekend of energy efficiency related events.

Beginning with the American Conservation Film Festival co-sponsored mini-film festival Friday evening, and culminating in a tour of the Solar array at American Public University, attendees got a full look at an ongoing energy efficiency effort in the Eastern Panhandle.

According Amanda Gardner, co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Energy Efficiency Campaign, the weekend was designed to better educate and engage anyone who has an interest in making their own small town more energy conscious.

“Energy efficiency is a broad term, but it’s important to everyone whether they realize or not,” Gardner said.

Gardner and Graham Smith-White decided to host a workshop in Shepherdstown after participating in similar events held previously

“I knew that it (Shepherdstown) was a model for community initiatives,” Gardner Said

Attendees for Saturday’s organizing workshop learned the basics of community mapping and organizing for issue related campaigns.

As part of the day-long event participants were taken on a tour of Shepherdstown’s “solar district,” and we given background on ongoing local energy efficiency projects.

Dan Conant of the Solar Holler, gave the group a look at the site and plan for the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church solar project.

Than and Mary-Anne Hitt, members of the Sustainable Shepherdstown group, opened up their own up backyard, the site of the first solar panels installed in Shepherdstown’s historic downtown.

Professor Jeff Groff also gave a tour of the red zone, on Shepherd University’s campus, a space used as a hands-on learning tool from environmental science student.

The “red-zone,” or renewable energy demo site, includes a greenhouse, a solar charged working barn, small garden, and now, a set of charging stations for solar powered vehicles.

Graham-White, chair of Sustainable Shepherdstown Energy committee, said the weekend’s s event are set among a larger movement happening county wide.

“There’s a bigger picture to that,” he said.

He explained that Jefferson County was recently picked to receive assistance form the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in development and implantation of energy efficiency projects, due in large part to the work individuals around the region were already doing to tackle the issue.

Assistance could include access to DEP resources and help in funding projects.

Graham-White said Sustainable Shepherdstown is looking at energy efficiency programs for historic buildings downtown like the Entler Hotel and Shepherdstown Museum.

Sustainable Shepherdstown will continue to support energy efficiency projects, with further local organizing to take place in the future.