emPOWERed is a eco-documentary exploring conservation and other actions to deter global warming.
Review by guest blogger CelticSolar
In December 1968 the astronauts of Apollo 8 were the first humans to ever see the Earth rise. These images changed how we view the world. emPOWERed asks us to realize that our fossil fuel burning is an uncontrolled experiment running on the only habitable planet that we have.
The documentary zooms in from outer-space and lands in a suburb of my hometown, Portland Oregon. Here a grade school is presented with an Energy Star Award because their building is in the top 25% of energy efficient buildings in the United States.
For this school the journey began when an energy management company claimed that they could save the school system $300,000 per year on energy bills. They checked out this claim and found out, not only was it possible, but other school districts had saved even more.
Rather than pay consultants, the school district decided to tackle the problem themselves. After studying other successful programs their first step was to install energy tracking software. The $600 software saved them $6500 in lighting alone in one school just by changing the time of day when the lights turn on and off.
The initiative spread and the district now saves $1.2M per year. That is equivalent to about 22 teachers. The district is now able to better serve their real purpose, educating children. Conservation has had a large monetary benefit and so much more.
One school has involved the kids in a “Watt Watchers” program. This allows the children to exercise what they have learned and see the school walking the talk.
Next the film moves to what we can each do in our own homes. They talk to a Fairfield, Connecticut household that have taken several small steps that nearly anyone can take. Then it moves to the construction site of an energy star house to replace a Mississippi home lost to hurricane Katrina. This will be one most energy efficient homes in the state. With so many homes being rebuilt in the area, the owner/builder/architect of this home is hoping others see the potential savings that smart buildings offer.
A Vermont community has a ‘bright idea’ to promote compact florescent lights. About 20% of a home’s energy is spent on lighting. They are selling CFLs for $0.99 and have sold over 10,000 bulbs and started thousands of people in their community thinking about energy consumption and pollution.
The final segment introduces us to the Reverend Sally Bingham, a San Francisco “environment minister”. For her, stewardship God’s creation, the Earth, is divine. She works with the Interfaith Power & Light project to deepen the tie between faith and ecology. The Zen Center is a Buddhist community that has joined Interfaith Power & Light. They have installed solar panels and get more than 50% of their electricity from them.
The documentary concludes noting that how we treat the plant is how we treat each other. This is a matter of human dignity and we all play a part.