Tag Archives: Austin Texas

Want to Spend the Summer in Austin Fighting Climate Change?

Are you looking for a meaningful, professional internship in Austin this summer? Great! We’re looking for Summer interns!

Austin, TX

Austin, TX

As you may know, The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the country. The Texas chapter focuses on many environmental issues including but not limited to energy efficiency, fossil fuel dependency, endangered species, and water conservation. Interns will have the opportunity to help organize a grassroots campaign, work in communications, and conduct policy research. Interns will also learn real skills through professional training workshops and work with a professional staffer as a mentor and resource.

Qualifications: A passion for environmental issues and social change, strong communication and people skills, and a desire to develop campaign organizing skills. No previous experience required.

Interns and Volunteers Making a Difference

Interns and Volunteers Making a Difference

Check out our Craigslist post!

To apply: Please send your resume and cover letter to Student Outreach Coordinator Tansy Stobart at tansystobartsc@gmail.com and CC Internship Manager Lydia Avila at lydia.avila@sierraclub.org. Applications are due Wednesday, May 8th at 12:00 PM.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Making Solar Affordable Through Rebates and Loan Programs

I know, it sounds far fetched, but believe it or not, progressive efforts are being made every day in Texas to make solar energy more affordable through rebates and loans. For the past decade, the big issue with solar energy has been the cost, but energy companies such as Austin Energy and City Public Service Energy offer solar rebate incentives and loan options to both businesses and residents alike. In a list of state incentives for renewable efficiency, many possible loan and rebate programs are listed for the state of Texas. Specifically, it is mentioned that, “Austin Energy offers solar PV loans up to $20,000 for solar photovoltaics, which may be combined with Austin Energy solar PV rebates which is an incentive of $2 per Watt.” CPS Energy of San Antonio has a similar program.

Furthermore, as of July 23rd, “CPS Energy and OCI Solar Power launched the largest municipally owned mega solar project,” for residents and companies in Texas. “The 400-MW San Antonio project is the largest in the nation among municipal utilities, and will catapult Texas into the top five U.S. solar producing states.” This is certainly a step in the right direction as it will create 805 additional jobs and will provide clean energy for over 70,000 San Antonio households. Way to go Texas, keep up the good work!

In addition, for those interested in learning more about Solar Energy and how to make this dream a reality, come check out our Solar Panel of top notch speakers the last weekend in September at the Renewable Roundup! Hope to see everyone there!

SAVE THE DATE: September 29th-30th The 12th Annual Renewable Roundup is Back!

Renewable Roundup 2012!

At a Glance…

WHAT?!?!: The 12th Annual Renewable Roundup is a sustainability symposium centered around green living, alternative energy education, family festivities, and sustainable lifestyle practices for our future. This event wouldn’t be complete without it’s A-list of Guest Speakers, Hands-on Workshops, Eco-friendly Vendors, Progressive Exhibitors, Tasty Food Demonstrators, and Supportive Sponsors.

WHERE?!?!: Fredricksburg, Texas

WHEN?!?!: The last weekend in September. Saturday September 29th 9:00am – 6:00pm and Sunday September 30th 9:00am- 5:00pm

HOW?!?!: For more information on how to get involved with the Roundup as a either a participant or patron, visit http://theroundup.org/.

WHO?!?!: Everyone and anyone is invited! We encourage all individuals and families to come out to this great event looking to learn about sustainable living practices. This event is proudly brought to you by a joint effort from TREIA, Texas Center for Policy Studies, and The Texas Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter.

Learn How, Here!

In Depth…

DETAILS/ARTICLE: 

Great News!  The annual Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair will be taking place again this year in the beautiful and historical town Fredericksburg, Texas! Organized by the Texas Renewable Energy Industry Association, in collaboration with the Texas Center for Policy Studies and the Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club, Renewable Roundup is a collaborative event centered around individuals, organizations, and companies passionate about sustainable living.  The event planning committee is working hard on making this year’s show the best ever. The underlining theme of this weekend event strives to promote cleaner and smarter ways of using our resources while educating the public about “Greener” lifestyles and options. This event serves as both a conference and festival, as it enlightens, entertains, and publicizes those interested in a brighter greener future. We would love to have you at this extraordinary event the 4th weekend in September (Sept. 29 &30). Please check out our website http://www.theroundup.org/ to find out more or contact Event Coordinator Laura Rice at info@theroundup.org.

INVOLVEMENT:

  • Attend!
  • Apply to be a Guest Speaker
  • Host a workshop the Friday before the gates open on Saturday morning
  • Reserve a booth or exhibit space to advertise and or promote a sustainable idea or product
  • Advertise
  • Sponsor the event
  • Volunteer at the event
  • Come to the VIP kick-off party Friday evening

Can’t Wait to See Everyone There! 🙂

-Danya Gorel Sierra Club Intern

~Special Thanks to Mentor and Conservation Director Cyrus Reed~

Let’s talk about water!

The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter proudly co-sponsored the Brazos Valley Water Conservation Symposium on June 20th. The event was co-sponsored with the City of Waco, the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the Texas Water Foundation, the Brazos River Authority, and the National Wildlife Federation. Organized with the intent of educating individuals ranging from policy makers to water utility professionals, the meeting focused on the importance and benefits of practicing viable water conservation planning methods in the state of Texas.  The symposium, entitled “The Business Case for Water Conservation,” presented ways in which the region may meet its water needs through enhanced water conservation.

Ken Kramer kicking off the Brazos Valley Water Conservation Symposium

Toby Baker, the commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), addressed the immediate need to secure a reliable water supply for Texas stating that it cannot have growth without water availability. He talked about the potential for water conservation as a way to extend our water supply and then explained some of the issues surrounding water conservation. While TCEQ requires water providers to submit drought contingency plans, their capacity to enforce them is very limited. It is critical for water providers and state agencies to work together on conserving water as a way to extend our current water supply and better prepare for future droughts.

The Commissioner was then followed by Comer Tuck, director of the conservation division of the Texas Water Development Board. Mr. Tuck started by communicating to the audience that the year 2011 was the driest and hottest recoded in the history of Texas. Following a talk on the projected population increase, he spoke of the importance of funding the 2012 state water plan, a set of strategies that would help us meet the water demands of future Texans.

Carole Baker (Alliance for Water Efficiency and Texas Water Foundation) focused on myths related to the feasibility of performing water conservation. Common beliefs, such as water shortages being temporary problems that will disappear with time, do not reflect  their real nature. Instead, they are ongoing issues.  She then disproved the notion of current development being efficient by explaining that new properties use 20-60% more water. Ms. Baker concluded by clarifying that “wasting water is not economically feasible.”

Mark Peterson, coordinator for outdoor programs at the San Antonio Water System, spoke of the successful implementation of water conservation strategies in the City of San Antonio.  So what does it mean when it is said that the city is “on board” with conservation? It translates to meeting the water demands of a population 60% larger with the same amount of water supplied by the city during the 1980s.

Mr. Peterson explained that adopting the perspective of ongoing water conservation as being “a source of water” is crucial and that regulations are by no means a form of public punishment during dry times.  Another unique approach was perceiving customers as being part of San Antonio’s “conservation team“.  The reader should keep in mind that while water conservation practices in San Antonio are credited as being successful, the variability of the water sources and infrastructure of every water utility is different. That said, San Antonio can serve as a great model for other cities.

Lorrie Reeves, a representative of the Water Efficiency Network of North Texas, then talked about the benefits of creating local networks of water utility professionals and water conservation experts.  These networks consist of municipalities, water providers, and water conservation advocates that meet on a regular basis throughout the year. The purpose of these coalitions is to regionally reduce water use by working together to promote water efficiency education, programs, legislation and technologies and openly and actively share information and best practices. Through the networks, entities are able to efficiently share knowledge and exchange information. For example, by sharing strategies and goals with one another, the North Texas network  pooled their resources to educate the general public about irrigation strategies for clay soil (specific to the region).

Jennifer Walker leading the panel on the implementation of water conservation strategies in different Texas municipalities

While the success of water conservation programs and progress being made in numerous parts of the state of Texas  was apparent through the conference, the importance of coupling these programs and any restrictions with stronger education programs was a consistent theme that should be given future consideration.  Most water consumers do not understand the amount of water that is needed to keep a lawn healthy and often use too much, making it important to educate the public about the lack of need to irrigate extensively (Toby Baker).

-Hector Varela, Water Policy Intern

Special thanks to Jennifer Walker and Joanna Wolaver

USDOT Secretary LaHood is excited about Austin’s BRT

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is an extra-long bus that operates in a dedicated lane and gets priority at intersections. Some say it’s “rail on wheels.”

Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff came to Austin to sign a federal grant of $38 million for the system. It’s expected to be running in 2014.

Bus Rapid Transit is a component of the All Systems Go plan, which has been designed to link transit modes and improve connectivity in the system. BRT service will give better transit options for the MoPac and I-35 corridors. Here’s the Cap Metro information page on the Bus Rapid Transit routes. Because of their extended length, these busses have more room for bikes and wheelchairs.

-Kari Banta, Transportation Associate

Make History on Earth Day

Less than a month away is everyone’s favorite holiday, Earth Day! And we at Sierra Club thought, what better way to celebrate than to get together with all of our friends, allies and supporters?! That’s why we are going to be launching a festival on Sunday, April 22nd from Noon til 6pm at the Mueller Park. Join us that day, along with the City of Austin and the Texas Green Network as we celebrate what brightens all of our days, The Earth!

Not only are we going to be having a blast, but we’ll be making history as well. The Austin Beyond Coal campaign will be shooting a gigantic group, aerial photo that day where our volunteers help us spell out the words “Beyond Coal”! This will mark the largest project nationwide for the Beyond Coal campaign and we need your help! If you want  to be a part of this monumental occasion, be at the park by 3:30 so we can get you into formation for the letters.

We will also have an A-list of excellent speakers throughout the day, including Mayor of Austin Lee Leffingwell, and Native Texan/activist/populist/columnist/cowboy-hat-enthusiast Jim Hightower. Hightower has been fighting for the Earth and the people who inhabit it for over 40 years.

The Festival will also include:

After the aerial photo, Za Boom Ba will be kicking the evening off with a huge interactive drum circle with room for 500 drummers!

This is certainly an event you won’t want to miss. And definitely make sure to bring all your friends and family at 3:30 to be apart of our history-making Beyond Coal photo! We’ll see you on Earth Day!

Wanna be Waste Free? Reycling is for You and Me!

The city of Austin has many nicknames. It is known as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” “Silicon Hills,” and various others. We should aim to add “Zero Waste City” to its list of nicknames.

On December 15, 2011 the Austin City Council approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan establishing a goal to reach Zero Waste by 2040. This means keeping at least 90% of discarded materials out of the landfill. This goal is certainly possible due to the fact that 90% of discarded materials are either reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

Landfills are one of the largest sources of Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Methane is 21 to 75 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide, therefore if we can reduce our landfills we will also reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses.

The City of Austin has already implemented various actions to become waste free and has created many ways to make recycling and waste disposal more accessible, easier, and more efficient for residents and businesses. The city is doing its part, now every person just needs to do theirs in order to achieve this goal.

As a resident, you can do your part by being resourceful. Use reusable bags and bottles, conserve energy, compost and above all, recycle: it is very important and easy to do. 

When you open your electricity and water accounts with the city of Austin, you automatically receive recycling service. The city comes and picks up recycling at the same time as it picks up your trash. In addition, the city does single-stream recycling, meaning you don’t have to separate your recycling. This minimizes confusion. (Although most plastics, glass, aluminum, paper, and metal items are recyclable, there are a few exceptions.)

With this service, all you have to do is recycle your items and the city will pick up and sort your recycling. Pickup is every two weeks. In addition, the city performs bi-annually brush and bulk item collections, has household hazardous waste disposal centers, and various other resources.

Recycling is a simple task we can all do that will not only help our landfills but will help our environment as a whole. With a Zero Waste goal at hand, let’s make Austin one of the first cities to become waste free and try our best to achieve this goal.

– Lauren Fedele, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Intern