How many students does it take to install 7,000 lightbulbs?
Twenty Brown students are lightening the electric bills – and reducing carbon footprints – for hundreds of low-income households in Providence this summer. Project 20/20, started this year by students and overseen by Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Steven Hamburg, has installed more than 7,000 bulbs in some 350 homes as of July 22, with nearly 700 more households on the current “to-do” list.
“We have set a goal of re-lamping 5,000 households in 2008,” Hamburg says. “That effort will save residents of Providence $750,000 a year at a one-time cost of $250,000.”
The work is funded with $100,000 from Brown’s Community Carbon Use Reduction project and another $100,000, plus all of the compact fluorescent light bulbs, from Wal-Mart. Students are paid $10 an hour for their work.
“The re-lamping will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,500 tons a year,” notes Hamburg, “the equivalent total emissions of 300 to 400 people.”
Project 20/20’s staff identifies potential recipients of the new bulbs through local church groups, food banks, senior centers, and other community organizations.
“This is a one-of-a-kind program,” Hamburg says, “and we hope it will serve as a national model.” More information is available at the project’s Web site.