Community Voices - Greg Jones

Posted by Shane Clark on September 3, 2013 in Community Voices

Optimized-gregjoneswideGregory Jones is Oberlin’s Energy Advocate, part of POWER’s initiative to help homeowners improve their energy efficiency. In his free time, Greg enjoys fishing and is a self-proclaimed ‘sports nut.’ Cleveland teams, all the way. 

What are some words or images that come to mind when you think of Oberlin?

Oh, when I think of Oberlin, I think of a close-knit eco-friendly community, right off the bat. They’re energy conscious, but not just energy conscious- they’re eco-conscious. And that’s one of the reasons why I love working here. Also, maybe from the outside looking in, I can appreciate that strong community aspect. You can have the privilege of knowing your neighbors and knowing the neighborhood kids. This community offers you a lot of diversity, freedom, and a good interaction between the youth and the seniors.

So how did you come to work in Oberlin as the POWER Energy Advocate?

I bugged the heck out of them. As soon as I heard that this position was being thought about and created, I let everyone know that they could get no one better to do the job and that’s what I told them and that’s how it came to be. This was a perfect fit for me.

And what’s it been like getting to know the Oberlin community through this job?

It’s been a pleasure, it’s been a real pleasure, it’s been everything I envisioned, and more, and it continues to evolve. As POWER expands, it expands in areas that I wanted to expand in my own business and my own growth - in energy efficiency and water efficiency, carbon neutrality - all these are things that I’ve studied and wanted to be involved in. Oberlin presents me that opportunity. So it’s not just a job, 9-5, I kind of live it and breathe it.

Can you explain what you do as an Energy Advocate?

As an energy advocate I do a first-step walkthrough of a home. I visually go through a residence and find inadequacies in insulation levels and poorly functioning heating and cooling equiptment. We look for different ways to be more efficient in the home through light bulbs, low-flow water fixtures and aerators on sinks. Then I match the homeowner up with existing programs that can help make the adjustments to that individual’s home at no, or very low, cost to them. And that’s another something that’s unique to Oberlin- no one else in the county has an Energy Advocate, and maybe there’s only a few of us in the country, to tell you the truth. So it makes Oberlin unique in having someone to focus on that, for their residents. And it’s really for the whole community’s use.

Have you experienced any mistrust or hesitancy from Oberlin residents about receiving walk-throughs?

Well, first of all, there’s always a certain amount of mistrust when an unfamiliar man comes to the door. I think my life experiences has made me more comfortable watering down that initial animosity, with a smile, with a hello. So, with that in mind, there’s really been, here, no barriers, no apprehension. and it’s BECAUSE of this community. Even the ones who aren’t into energy efficiency, or sustainability, you cannot help but know about it in this community because thats what this community revolves around. So, me saying I’m POWER, or energy efficiency, or sustainability, it’s not as foreign as it might be in another area.

Is there anything that everyone in Oberlin could do to right-off-the-bat improve their home’s energy efficiency?

Caulk and Air Sealing. Every house in Oberlin could use caulking, air sealing, and insulation. If every house in Oberlin did that, it would make a SIGNIFICANT difference. And thats something YOU can do. Get a tube of caulk and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Insulation is another thing you can do on your own. But, I mean, the easiest way to do ALL of that here in Oberlin, is to call me, and then have the professionals come out and do it for little or no cost- that’s the whole point of the program. It’s that easy, but the problem is getting people to call.

People use the word “Sustainability” to mean a lot of things, what does it mean to you?

It runs the same gamut as ecoefficiency, those are the new buzzwords for the eco-friendly bunch. But sustainability is just to be able to maintain something however you want it to be.

And how do you feel you contribute to sustainability in your personal life?

Doing what I’m doing with POWER, trying to sustain a energy-efficient portfolio for the entire community, which is what I beleive the entire idea is with POWER. I can envision other cities starting to operate their own grid power, like here in Oberlin, so that more communities become sustainable in their own right. I think that’s the ideal picture of where we want to go as people in this country.

In this kind of community, it could be really easy to think that everything is okay. Around you, all hell is breaking loose, but you don’t see it because you’re good right here. But things have to change, you cannot just stay. If you don’t change, you become a dinosaur, and dinosaurs get extinct. Earth renews itself, just like we have the power to renew ourselves. Anytime we’ve faced a challenge that’s this monumental, we’ve come up with a solution. So it’s not beyond us to create what we need to create, it’s just having cooperation and understanding from all parties involved to say “this is what we need to do,” and get it done.

What do you think about the Environmental Dashboard as a tool for promoting resource awareness?

I think it’s a great tool, I think it should be expanded more. I think it should be put up at both ways coming into Oberlin. I mean it, you come into Oberlin, you see Environmental Dashboard, you know what we’re about. That in itself is going to bring some people with that mindset here, and when you have like minds in a like place, you make great things happen.

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Shane Clark is a 3rd year Environmental Studies major. She manages the Learning Garden at Prospect Elementary and is a member of the Contra Dance Club, the Pottery Co-op, and the Oberlin College Gab Year Students.



Photographer Info: Yvette Chen is a photographer for the Dashboard Project who is interested in the power of media and images. Originally from Princeton Junction, New Jersey, Yvette is a first year student at Oberlin College planning to study sociology and economics. Other than photography, in her spare time, she enjoys cooking and running through Ohio's rural landscapes.

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alfred andrews JR October 2, 2013

Your program is fantastic I'm so proud of you

Guest
alfred andrews JR October 2, 2013

where is your new #????

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Shane Clark
Shane Clark is a 3rd year Environmental Studies major. She manages the Learning
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