How Can We Combat Climate Change? Education!
By Mike Brown
America is in the midst of one of the most profound and rapid societal shifts in history. Today's generation of children is the first to grow up indoors. Their plugged-in lives are largely devoid of exploring the natural world and we are just beginning to understand the ramifications of their virtual world.
This movement indoors is not benign; there are costs to the health of our children: attention difficulties, hyperactivity, childhood obesity, diminished use of senses, disconnect from things that are real. Additionally, if children are detached from nature, how will they learn about, understand, and value nature? How will the next generation care about the land and be stewards of its resources? Did you know that environmental education can help children perform better in social studies, science, language arts, and math?
Our children deserve the best education, and with proposed budget cuts to national programs that support energy & water conservation, our mission to promote sustainability is now more important than ever. April is Earth Month and with Earth Day Texas right around the corner we have the opportunity to re-engage the community and local industry professionals about the modern environmental movement; inspiring citizens around the world to demonstrate their commitment to a healthy and sustainable world. One way that the local U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Texas Chapter is doing this is through educational outreach with its Mobile Experience Center (MEC).
MOBILE EXPERIENCE CENTER (MEC)
It’s no Tiny Home, but something even better! The Mobile Experience Center is a 24-foot enclosed trailer that includes an interactive multimedia space – so that visitors can actually see, feel, touch and learn about green building design, construction, as well as building operation and maintenance strategies. Through videos, touch-screen applications, and real-world demonstrations of energy-efficient lighting, appliances and plumbing fixtures, the Mobile Experience Center makes the concept of “sustainability” tangible to thousands of visitors.
What’s unique about the Mobile Experience Center is its portability. It is truly a learning and experience center on wheels. Instead of inviting groups to come see our green exhibit at a fixed location or even a temporary installation, we are able to bring this learning and experience center to them – whether it’s a tradeshow floor, a street fair, a city building, a public parking lot, or a school playground. It just takes a few minutes to set up (i.e. -- we position the trailer, extend the entry ramp, flip up the solar panels, and switch on the inverter). Voila! An instant green building demonstration platform that’s fun and interactive! Some of these exciting exhibits include:
- 500W Solar Photovoltaic System by Axiom Solar
- High Efficiency Plumbing Fixtures by American Standard
- LED Lighting Panels by RAB Lighting
- EZ-H20 Water Bottle Filling Station by Elkay
- Green Cleaning Products (Commercial & Residential) by Staples
- Car Charging Station by NRG
- And even insulation made from Recycled Blue Jeans! by Bonded Logic
Sponsors benefit from creating, developing and enhancing credibility, engaging in highly targeted marketing, leveraging word-of-mouth potential, increase brand recognition, and give back to the community.
Since the trailer has both residential and commercial products, local business owners can also learn about strategies and equipment that can be used improve their bottom line. Many of our volunteers are engineers, architects or contractors and are knowledgeable about various green building practices and methods for reducing operational costs. Data collected from last year's travels across North Texas estimated that the solar panels generated about 1,300 kWh electrical over the course of the entire year (equivalent to 2,190 miles driven by a car or preventing 1 metric ton of CO2 emissions). Now that the USBGC Texas Chapters are united, the MEC has the potential to travel across the vast state of Texas to various trade shows, conferences, and schools. Upcoming appearances include events like GRO El Paso, the USGBC Texas Energy Summit (Houston), and the North Texas Sustainable Showcase.
Interested in having the MEC at one of your events, schools, or social? Visit our website here for more details on event requests.
EARTH DAY TEXAS 2017
The MEC is scheduled as an exhibit for this year’s Earth Day Texas event to be held Friday, April 21st – Sunday, April 23rd at Fair Park in Dallas. Event hours are 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. This three-day free event is held in April to celebrate progress, hope, and innovation and is the largest event in the world of its kind. Earth Day Texas brings together environmental organizations, businesses, academic institutions, government agencies, speakers, interactive programming, and subject matter experts along with live music and sustainable beer and food pavilions. Earth Day Texas creates a fun and engaging atmosphere for thought and experiential learning while encouraging attendees to be the change they wish to see in the world. In 2016, Earth Day Texas hosted over 130,000 attendees, 700+ exhibitors and 250+ speakers, becoming the largest annual environmental exhibition and programming initiative in the world.
ENGAGING YOUTH TO BE FUTURE CONSERVATION LEADERS
The MEC not only offers the community an opportunity to learn about existing technologies that conserve water and energy, but it also gives them the tools and resources to apply in their everyday lives. In an era where more and more children are disconnected from nature, USGBC recognizes the importance of making a real investment in environmental education and outdoor learning. Studies have shown environmental education engages students in learning, raising test scores, and encouraging youth to pursue career in environmental and natural resources.
Teaching the community to become environmental stewards would not be possible without the help of our MEC Leadership Team and dedicated volunteers throughout the year.
If you would like to volunteer at an upcoming event or join the development of bringing this amazing initiative all together, send a request below. You can also support by following or sharing on social media.
· Like the USGBC Texas Facebook page
· Follow USGBC Texas Twitter
· Follow USGBC Texas on LinkedIn