FROM READERS: Net-zero energy home and Earth Hour aim to raise environmental awareness

Sunday, March 17, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Monta Welch is the president of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition and the community coordinator for Earth Hour, scheduled Saturday, March 23.

It is long overdue that there would finally be a "net-zero energy," affordable home, "the house of the future" in Columbia!

It has been an initial goal of the "grassroots" "Peoples’ Visioning" to rectify this! Columbia Climate Change Coalition, through collaborative efforts with half a dozen or more other non-profit organizations (Columbia Area NOW National Organization for Women, Democracy for Missouri, Sweet Ethics Sustainability, KOPN Public Radio, Food Not Bombs, Native American Support Group, Boone County Smart Growth Coalition), started Columbia’s ‘Peoples’ Visioning’, a local grassroots "Visioning."

"Peoples’ Visioning was specifically started to address climate change issues, across the spectrum; bring local "good jobs" to our community, without blighting large areas of the community and giving our education tax dollars to get them; local economics; and other sustainability concerns!

The "Peoples’ Visioning" knows it is entirely possible to rebuild and repair our neighborhood and community "blight," wherever it might exist, while also healing the community and creating jobs that address sustainability; food and water security; local, clean energy security and decentralized production to keep our clean energy dollars here at home; public health; education; caring for the homeless, veterans, ex-offenders trying to rehabilitate themselves; and more.

As a first step, when "Peoples’ Visioning" was 3 months old, we put the city council, city staff and community leaders "on notice" that we had ideas, from the people, to bring our community to clean and renewable sources of energy for at least 80% of our energy use by the year 2015, yes, by 2015!

Since that day, December 3rd, 2012, "Peoples’ Visioning" has been hard at work towards these goals, in a variety of ways, including a competition "net-zero" home design partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build for the community! Peoples’ Visioning has been working through city staff, boards and commissions and they have been responding to us by moving forward, faster on energy issues!

The net-zero, affordable "home of the future"will include Universal Design elements in a spacious, yet higher-standard, still affordable, average family design. City staff originally planned a net-zero design for the competition, later changing its mind to request only a high-energy efficiency design.

Our Peoples’ Visioning design, with Habitat, will be more than just a high energy-efficiency design — it will be a full-fledged, net-zero energy, "home of the future"!! In addition, Peoples’ Visioning "went more than the extra mile" with an additional "alternative green design" we call "experimental" green design! This design will offer additional features that can be incorporated in existing homes and buildings during remodeling, renovation, etc… to make existing buildings more design efficient. We call it our "catalog house." It will demonstrate options, common in other parts of our nation or world, which we are getting used to!

Come see it — models, drawings and plans — at "Peoples’ Visioning" meetings and some Earth Hour events described below!!

Earth Hour will take place in a "symbolic wave of darkness" in all time zones across the globe all day on Saturday, March 23, 8:30-9:30 PM! This will be Earth Hour’s 6th year and Columbia’s 5th year to participate once Earth Hour went global!

Last year, hundreds of millions of people in 7,000 cities, in 156 territories and countries, in solidarity, "voted with their light switches," calling for greater local and global action on sustainability and climate change!

Following the event this Thursday, there be 2 additional events, ‘free’ city bus, and, new this year, a special Service Project earlier on ‘Earth Hour Day’!

Earth Hour additional events are:

  • Wednesday, March 20th, ‘A Forum on Sustainability and Climate Justice’, 8-9 PM, location to be announced, co-sponsored by Columbia Climate Change Coalition, Coal Free Mizzou, and Sustain Mizzou with questions on the issue for available Mayoral and City Council candidates
  • Earth Hour’s official weekend kickoff, Thursday, March 21st, 12 noon-1 PM, City Council Chambers. The kickoff will include Barbara Hoppe, as Mayor Pro Tem, reading the Earth Hour Mayoral Proclamation; an opportunity to visit further with the "Peoples’ Visioning" "green" architect, Daniel Karlov, see the ‘net-zero’ floor plans and competition models; and a short tour of the "green building" features of City Hall, which has a LEED Gold Certification.
  • There will be Free City Bus, all day Thursday, in honor of the Earth Hour kickoff’, as well as on Saturday, the Day of Earth Hour.
  • The special Earth Hour "Service Project," Saturday during the day, will include surveys and information gathering and sharing on climate related issues dealing with home energy efficiency, food and water security, neighborhood gardens, transportation, etc… along with distributing or planting "free trees"!  

For more details an/or to volunteer for this great Earth Hour ‘Service Project’ contact Monta Welch, community coordinator for the Earth Hour event at: or visit for her contact info and International Earth Hour 2013 events and updates!!

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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