Green digest: Brave New Workshop

Brave New Workshop cuts energy use

THE WEDGE — The funny folks at the Brave New Workshop got serious about energy efficiency this year, slashing their annual energy consumption by 73 percent, the workshop reported in October.

The savings were achieved largely by swapping out old lighting fixtures in the theater and other parts of the building with new energy-efficient lighting technology, including LED lights.

The efficiency of the LED, or light-emitting diode, technology meant some 1,000-watt fixtures in the theater could be replaced with energy-sipping 65-watt fixtures. Traditional light bulbs in other parts of the building were swapped with more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

The historic improv comedy theater — which recently spoofed green efforts in “The Brave New Workshop Saves the Planet; or, Yes We Can, But Do We Have To?” — started a sustainability program about two-and-a-half years ago. The theatre set a goal of reducing its carbon footprint to zero with energy-efficiency and waste-reduction efforts.

The workshop reported a new recycling program halved the amount of waste heading to the trash bin. Small steps like replacing disposable drink cups with reusable glassware helped them get there.

The workshop also promoted energy-efficient transportation by allowing employees to work from home and discounting tickets for patrons who arrived by bus or bicycle.

The Brave New Workshop is a charter member of Twin Cities Sustainable Theatres, a group that aims to make Minneapolis and St. Paul the greenest theatre community in the nation. Leading by example, the workshop has made some openings zero-waste events with aggressive recycling and composting efforts.

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Whittier Green Fair Nov. 14

WHITTIER — The Whittier Alliance will host the Whittier Green Fair with workshops, exhibitors and the chance to win a free bicycle 1 p.m.–4 p.m. Nov. 14 at First Christian Church, 2201 1st Ave. S.

Exhibitors will share information on cutting home energy bills, alternative forms of transportation, gardening, recycling and other green topics. Workshops cover topics like bicycling in Minneapolis, healthy home cleaning supplies and sustainable business practices.

There will be more than 20 informational tables sponsored by businesses, agencies and organizations including Transit for Livable Communities, Hennepin County Environmental Services, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Grass Fed Cattle Company and more.

Activities in the kids’ area include a scavenger hunt and an exhibit on wind and water conservation sponsored by 3M. The first 50 visitors will receive a free reusable shopping bag from CVS.

Visitor also can register to win a bicycle.

For more information and updates, visit the Whittier Alliance website (whittieralliance.org) as the date of the fair approaches.

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Minnesota ranks high for energy efficiency efforts

Minnesota was among the top 10 states doing the most to promote energy efficiency through its policies, programs and practices, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) reported in October.

The state ranked eighth on the 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard prepared by ACEEE, which promotes increased energy efficiency as a way to meet energy demands while growing state economies.

California ranked first on the scorecard, followed by Massachusetts and Connecticut. Minnesota was the only Midwestern state in the top 10.

The scorecard, now in its third year, ranks states in six areas of energy efficiency policy: utility and public benefits programs; transportation; building energy codes; combined heat and power; state government initiatives; and appliance efficiency standards.

ACEEE maintains a database of energy efficiency efforts in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on its website (aceee.org). The full 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard was also available for download on the website.

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Create a community garden

The growing season came to an abrupt end with the early snows of October, but for some avid gardeners it’s never too early to start thinking about next spring.

For many city-dwellers, the only garden plot they’ll find is in a community garden, but space in those gardens is often snatched up as quickly as it becomes available. Those interested in starting their own community gardens can pick up some tips at a free workshop in November.

Gardening Matters, a local organization that promotes community gardening in the Twin Cities, is sponsoring the free, two-hour workshop Nov. 5 at Sabathani Community Center, 310 E. 38th St. (not in Southwest, exactly, but just across the highway from Kingfield). Act fast to register: an RSVP is required by Nov. 2.