Hawthorne homeowners focus on energy and water conservation

imageMaking homes energy efficient and creating more water self-sufficiency is a top priority for the City of Hawthorne and the South Bay Environmental Services Center.

The South Bay Environmental Services Center hosted a seminar for Hawthorne homeowners concerning the Energy Upgrade California and Water Reliability 2020 programs.

By 2020, the Water Reliability 2020 program aims to increase the use of local water resources to 66 percent of the South Bay’s total water usage. Currently, only 33 percent is from a locally-produced water supply.

Performance incentive checks range from $1,250 to $4,000 at the state-level as part of the Energy Upgrade California program. An additional rebate worth $500 is also being offered through Los Angeles County for homes achieving 20 percent energy-savings or better.

One resident of Hawthorne decided to take advantage of the incentives being given last year for energy efficient upgrades and installed 20 new windows in his home, at a cost of $16,000.

“Part of the reason was the wood was peeling off and the other reason was energy efficiency,” Wayne Beach said. “I see a significant change in my monthly bill, between 15 to 20 percent.”

Beach says that he was planning on replacing his windows for a while and the energy rebate motivated him to take action. He has been told that he will receive a rebate of about $1,500 in this year’s tax returns and says that any amount is helpful.

The South Bay Environmental Services Center encourages residents to look into the rebates and incentives being given for energy and water efficiency.

Grace Farwell, an environmental analyst, with the South Bay Environmental Services Center, is confident that the Water Reliability 2020 program will be a success.

“It’s through water conservation and through water recycling,” Farwell said.

imageResidents were given suggestions on how they can contribute to the Water Reliability program’s success. The incentive is that they will also see a decrease in their monthly utility bills. Simple things as turning off the water when brushing teeth, taking time-limited showers and running a full load of dishes or laundry help decrease energy and water consumption. Farwell said she mindfully applies these energy and water-saving habits in her own home.

“A lot of times we have to wait for the shower to get hot, so I put a bucket in the shower to collect the cold water and use it later to water my plants,” Farwell said.

Alternative energy sources, such as solar power, are available, but usable water is a natural resource that has long been scarce in Southern California and is getting a lot worse.

“Water shortage is a reality especially for Southern California. Because of the fact that we don’t produce or contribute to the source. We are users and takers of other people’s water collections,” Farwell said.

Even with the recent rainfall, the water went into the ground and out into the ocean because Southern California’s water system isn’t designed to capture the runoff. The South Bay relies heavily on the snowmelt and snowpack in Northern California and from the Colorado River, but in recent years, environmentalists in Northern California have limited the amount of water that they distribute.

“As the population continues to increase, and the water supply remains restricted, we are going to see higher and higher costs for water. There may be water rationing and more restrictions put on us for the actual use of water,” Farwell said.

Many of the cities in the South Bay have water ordinances that restrict the number of days residents can water their lawns. But cities do not have the staff power to enforce them.

“They are really relying on the good heartedness of their residents to follow through,” Farwell said.

One of the main issues may simply be awareness. Many residents say that they are not aware of the water ordinances in place in their city.

Kiran Magiawala, a retired engineer and longtime Hawthorne resident, lives in an apartment complex and does not have direct control over his complex’s external water use. But he has contacted the building manager many times to ask to make the apartments more energy and water efficient. In the meantime, Magiawala said he does what he can.

“I would have more enjoyment out of taking a 20-minute hot shower,” he said. “But I ask myself at what cost I would be doing it. It is a philosophical matter of mindful consumption.”

Edison Middle School receives facelift during day of service

imageAn estimated 1,000 volunteers gathered at Thomas A. Edison Middle School to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by participating in City Year Los Angeles’ day of service.

The hallways of Thomas A. Edison Middle School were lined with volunteers wearing white t-shirts and singing and laughing as they worked. Each person was hard at work with paintbrushes in one hand and paint buckets in another, paying meticulous attention to painting inside the lines.

“I’m here to make a difference,” Jamie Cabrera, a student volunteer said. “You hear it a lot, but I really do want to help. Painting a couple of things doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m sure the people at this school are going to be thankful for it. When they painted my school, I thought it was cool because I thought people really do care.”

Similar scenes could be seen across the school’s campus.

Volunteers were broken up into about thirty teams and were responsible for painting different scenes in different areas throughout the school. The largest indoor project was the painting of the portraits of all the United States presidents on both sides of the halls. Student volunteers were hard at work painting college logos to be put up around campus. Teams of outdoor volunteers painted different murals of musical notes, geometric shapes, sports symbols, and Thomas A. Edison Middle School’s logo.

Watch a slideshow of photographs from the event:

City Year corps members said it was extra-memorable serving on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

City Year’s Los Angeles branch launched in 2007 and has recorded 552,500 hours of service to the Los Angeles community. It is the fourth year City Year Los Angeles is participating in Martin Luther King Jr. Day of service.

“The significance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, particularly for our organization, is something we really cherish, said Daniel Foley,the Program Manager at Gompers Middle School in Watts/South LA.

“Our organization is based solely on the diversity of young people coming together from different backgrounds and different places and on Martin Luther King Day, the day that celebrates our country coming together and trying to unify itself as one, its very clear to us why we serve.”

City Year is a non-profit organization devoted to service in schools and around the community. It seeks to help students stay in school and stay on track to graduate.

imageThe bigger message is that of “community.” Building, creating, and connecting a community, a message that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also preached.

“He spoke a lot about creating the beloved community,” Sarah Bouchereau, a City Year corps member said, “and the idea that everyone can serve.

“And everyone can be great because they can serve. So we do this on this day on all of our sites across the country to commemorate his word. It means a lot, I feel like I’m part of something larger.”

Monday’s event also marked the beginning of City Year Los Angeles’ Heroes Program. One hundred middle school and 100 high school students kicked off their six-month participation in service to the community.

“It’s special for us to have our opening day on Martin Luther King Day,” Alexis Hernandez, a student volunteer said. “Because we are his dream that he had, we’re fulfilling his dream.”

Many of the City Year corps members were inspired by the turn out at this year’s service day. They hope that their program will make a difference in rallying a community behind its youth to increase the high school graduation rate.

“I grew up in similar communities,” Mario Fedelin, Program Director of City Year Los Angeles said. “And I know and understand what it’s like to go to a school that doesn’t have. I know what it’s like to be in a community where everyone isn’t connected.

“I think for me, personally, to be a part of a group like this keeps me going. It gives me hope that our young people are part of the solution not always part of the problem.”