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Where are Pennsylvania's best places to work?

How do your employees really feel about your company? How do your company’s policies stack up against your peers? And who’s going to give you an unbiased answer to those questions? To find out, register your firm to participate in Pennsylvania’s Best Places to Work  competition, which annually surveys large firms (with over 250 employees)  and medium-sized companies (with 25 to 250 workers) and selects the top 50 performers in each category.

What’s in it for you? Megan Burns, manager of program operations for Best Places to Work,  says the program isn’t just rankings. “All participants receive  a report card,” she says, with benchmarking data against other companies, employee comments, and a demographic report with the positive and negative responses of employees to 72 questions in core focus areas. They include culture and communications;  goal satisfaction-job rules; work environment; relationships with supervisors; development, pay and benefits; and overall engagement.

Employers go online to supply basic information about personnel and payroll, hiring and employment practices. Their employees answer questions on their view of employer policies on a scale of one to five, with a chance to amplify their thoughts in open-ended responses.

To be eligible, participating companies must be a for-profit or not-for-profit business publicly or privately held, with a facility and at least 25 employees in Pennsylvania. They must also be in good standing with all state agencies, since the program is sponsored by Team Pennsylvania Foundation, the state Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and the Central Penn Business Journal.  The deadline for registration  is May 28.

Source: Megan Burns, Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania
Writer: Chris O’Toole

Private higher ed fourth-largest payroll in PA, says new study

It’s no secret that corporate executives and doctors do pretty well in Pennsylvania. These highly educated titans were the kings of your college and now they honk at degree-wielding denizens working in academia from their BMWs, grinning ear-to-ear with a smile only ironclad job security can provide. But according to a new study, Pennsylvania’s private college and university employees can smile back as their sector now places fourth amongst the largest industry payrolls in the state.

The economic impact study, released Monday by PA’s Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, finds that Pennsylvania’s 94 private colleges and universities added 16,338 new jobs since 1999, when private education ranked seventh. But as two recessions have marred industry growth in many sectors, the current landscape looks much different. Private education has moved up the list, now boasting 79,213 jobs and $4.583 billion in payroll, while other industries have dropped out of the top 10 completely.

“As our enrollment has grown to about 285,000 students--including one of the largest numbers of out-of-state students in the nation--we have been able to add good, family-sustaining jobs with benefits,” says President of the AICUP Don Francis. “We aren’t recession proof, but we have weathered these recessions better than most private industries.”

AICUP surveyed its member schools and examined US Department of Commerce data and other sources to arrive at a statewide impact of $16.1 billion in economic benefit provided by Pennsylvania’s private colleges and universities. These findings join a 2006 study by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which calculated the economic impact of PA’s state institutions at $4.47 billion; a study Keystone Edge reported on in January.  Check it out here.

Source: Don Francis, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania
Writer: John Steele

College Credit Transfer System Makes Higher Education More Affordable, Accessible

There are a lot of reasons people don’t graduate college in four years, and most of them don’t include booze or bong loads. More often than not, a year at a community college turns into wasted time as student credits are lost in bureaucratic limbo. But now, just one year into a new credit transfer system, Pennsylvania students have saved $35.4 million.

In 2006, Governor Rendell signed into law Act 114, which required all community colleges and PASSHE schools to identify a minimum of 30 credits that would be guaranteed to transfer between schools. Repeating courses at state universities costs students and taxpayers. But with transferable credits available at 32 state institutions, students spend more time in the classroom and less time at the finance office.

“There has been a change in who is seeking college education. College students are becoming more mobile,” says PA Department of Education spokesperson Leah Harris. “We found a need to put a system in place to protect those students from having to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for having to take a course at one institution and again at another.”

As part of the new law, the state established the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Center (PA TRAC) website. The site allows users to search for transferable courses, find information about participating institutions and get step-by-step instructions to transfer credits. The site also keeps real-time reporting data to determine the effectiveness of the software. The program has been a success, saving more money than originally thought, as some schools have created more transferable offerings than the law originally required.

Software guidance systems manufacturers AcademyOne designed the software, which can facilitate up to 30 credits at a time. The West Chester firm believes this software could help correct a growing problem, as six out of 10 students nationwide attend more than one college on a path to their degree.

“AcademyOne manages a national site, CollegeTransfer.net. In Pennsylvania, we used the functionality of that site but worked closely with the state and individual institutions to focus on content so there was no confusion, ” says AcademyOne Vice President Karen Todd. “Now the students will have all the information so they can avoid taking a course that won’t count. It’s a real joy!”

Sources: Leah Harris, PA Department of Education
Karen Todd, AcademyOne
Writer: John Steele

Schoolwires Centricity gets a facelift to increase web participation

According to Project Tomorrow’s 2009 national research study, 60 percent of parents value their school district website as their top choice for driving student achievement. These findings come as no shock to the folks at Schoolwires. The Central Pennsylvania outfit responsible for school connectivity software Centricity have worked hard to bring learning solutions into the 21st century, using the internet not just as a research tool but a portal to learning for parents and students.

Their newest update to the market-leading Centricity platform seeks to increase functionality for students, increase involvement for parents and connect communities in social-media environments.

“Education is transforming and in response, we are leveraging our decade of experience as an industry leader to deliver even more innovative capabilities within our solution to help administrators and teachers address new critical imperatives and continue to help students achieve success,” says Edward Marflak, Schoolwires CEO.

The new Centricity allows school districts to combine the efforts of data systems at all levels of a school district. Now, web updates for the district website, the school website and the classroom website can be updated from the same portal. And with tools for creating student blogs and podcasts, students, parents and teachers will all be connected across the same interface.

After the original release of Centricity, Schoolwires sponsored the research study conducted by Project Tomorrow, entitled “Speak Up.” The results of the study, unsurprisingly, revealed that students today are more web-focused and learn better through a good “home-school” connection, facilitated by more web-based connectivity. Schoolwires hopes to aid this process as they roll out their Centricity update software later this month.

Source: Edward Marflak, Schoolwires
Writer: John Steele

Pennsylvania DEP announces $16M for Clean Energy Projects

Pennsylvania legislators have made great hay in the last few years about diversifying the state energy portfolio. But tax credits and impact studies don’t create jobs in a state where unemployment is at a 25-year high.

Environmentalists and job seekers alike will be pleased to see the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection putting its money where its mouth is this week as they announced the release of $16 million in grant funding to back clean energy projects. In his announcement of the funding, DEP secretary John Hanger stated that job creation and financial savings were the goals.

"When we began our effort to make Pennsylvania energy independent, we recognized the need for projects that use advanced technologies to help meet our future energy needs while generating new employment opportunities for Pennsylvanians," Hanger says. "Previously, we were far too dependent on foreign oil and far too many of our energy dollars were leaving the state. We needed to look within our borders for innovative ways to conserve and generate energy, and create jobs.”

The state funding is being made available through the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, or PEDA. The competitive grant program, which financed clean energy projects like the Buckman’s Inc. Wind & Solar deployment and the Crayola solar-powered manufacturing facility, had been inactive for several years before Governor Ed Rendell revived it in 2005. Ever since, the state legislature has been struggling to find ways to expand the grant program to create more jobs and add to alternative energy projects already in the pipeline. This new funding marks an expansion of a program that has invested more than $75 million in 147 projects, leveraging an estimated $1.1 billion in private investments and creating more than 1,700 permanent jobs.

"As the demand for energy continues to increase, so does the demand for innovative solutions to meet those needs," Hanger says. "Pennsylvanians have exhibited a willingness to undertake the types of projects necessary to keep us moving forward. Now in its sixth year, PEDA grants will continue to assist our residents in their efforts."

Grants are capped at $1 million. Applications are only accepted online. Click here to apply.

Source: John Hanger, PA DEP
Writer: John Steele

Pennsylvania added 3,800 high-tech jobs in 2008

Pennsylvania's high-tech industry added 3,800 net jobs in 2008 despite a recession, according to the 13th annual Cyberstates report published April 28.

The report by the TechAmerica Foundation showed that PA ranked eighth nationally in total high-tech employment with 215,948 total jobs in the sector, with gains in computer systems design and related services (2,900 jobs), engineering services (1,100 jobs) and R&D and testing labs (300 jobs). Pennsylvania ranked fifth in both electronic components manufacturing (12,500 jobs) and R&D and testing labs (36,800 jobs).

Nationally, high tech continued to be a jobs driver in 2008. Forty-one states added tech jobs between 2007 and 2008, despite the recession's growing pressure. However, those number took a nose dive in 2009.

“Every high-tech sector saw employment losses in 2009,” says the report. “Of the 245,600 jobs lost, 112,600 were in manufacturing. Engineering and tech services saw a net loss of 59,000 jobs, as did communications services, shedding 53,000 jobs. Software services experienced the smallest decline, losing 20,700 jobs, or one percent."

Numbers on Pennsylvania’s 2009 high-tech job losses haven’t been crunched; state data lags national data by “at least a year,” says TechAmerica’s Josh James.  “But we can be safe in assuming that because national level was so high that most states will show job losses in 2009.”

Cyberstates 2010 relies on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report provides 2009 national data on tech employment as well as 2008 national and state-by-state data on high-tech employment, wages, establishments, payroll, wage differential, and employment concentration.

High-tech jobs continue to pay far better than average private sector wages. The average annual salary of $77,500 is 76 percent higher than the Pennsylvania average.

Source: Josh James,TechAmerica
Writer: Chris O’Toole

Oregon Dairy Organics turn cowpies into profit

The infamous time-traveling bad guy Biff from the Back To The Future films is famously averse to manure. And why wouldn’t he be? It doesn’t take a dump truck of the stuff burying you in your ’46 Ford to steer clear of manure. But for some reason, the folks at Oregon Dairy Organics have no qualms with the stuff. In fact, they believe, animal waste might save the world.

On April 19, Pennsylvania Agricultural Secretary Russell Redding and Environmental Defense Fund’s project manager Suzy Friedman broke ground on a new composting facility that will work with farmers to turn their manure and other animal waste into compost. And while the EPA lists varied composting benefits from preventing plant diseases to cheaply removing air pollution, Pennsylvania’s agricultural compost plan is very specific.

"Knowing the important role Pennsylvania plays in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, we must find innovative ways to protect our natural resources and increase the profitability of our farms,” says Redding. “The Oregon Dairy Organics team has created a model that will benefit the community, the farms and our waterways."

Using animal waste as a profitable mulch material is not a new concept. But in order to see real environmental impact, farmers need to get out of the backyard and combine their efforts. The Oregon Dairy Organics facility provides one place to handle multiple waste streams but avoids the size, traffic and hauling expenses of a larger-scale facility. And the best part about it is all the partners are local.

Managing the sales of the compost product is Terra-Gro, a professional trucking and composting firm out of Nottingham, Bucks County. And the namesake behind this project, Oregon Dairy, is a farm in Manheim township that the Hurst family turned into a market, a restaurant and an ice cream shop over the last 40 years. In that time, the family has fought for environmental causes and called on farmers across the state to participate in organic practices like composting. With this plant, he says, farmers once again have the opportunity to protect our environmental landmarks.

"This project is another example of the positive steps farmers can and are taking to clean up both Lancaster County streams and the Chesapeake Bay in an economically sustainable way," says George Hurst. "As a result of this project, manure, yard waste, and food waste will become an asset to agriculture and the Chesapeake Bay region."

Source: Russell Redding, PA Agricultural Secretary
George Hurst, Owner of Oregon Dairy Organics

Writer: John Steele

Take a (recycled) seat: York County's Emeco makes classic chair from Coke bottles

Hanover-based Emeco Industries Inc. is reviving its 1944 aluminum classic--the Navy chair--made with recycled Coke bottles.

The firm debuted the new design at the Milan Furniture Show. Beginning in June it will be marketed in 30 countries worldwide. In the U.S  it will be marketed by Design Within Reach and Coca Cola.  Each chair will use at least 111 recycled Coke bottles, for a total re-use of more than three million bottles, the companies say. The recycled rPET (recycled polyethelene terephthalate) plastic comes from the world’s largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant--a Spartanburg, South Carolina facility created by Coke and United Resource Recovery Corp.

Coca-Cola will help market the Emeco chairs and will earn a small royalty on sales, says Dan Fogelson, Emeco vice president of sales and marketing. Fogelson said the chair is unique in the Emeco product line, which uses 80 percent recycled aluminum in its other furnishings. "Emeco's original 1944 Navy chair was all-aluminum. Over the past 66 years the firm has sold over three million of the aluminum model," he says..

Planning for the the Coca-Cola venture began in 2007, but Emeco has been forging alliances with top-notch designers for over a decade. Emeco's partnership with renowned French architect, Philippe Starck on the Hudson chair won a 2000 GOOD DESIGN Award and was inducted into the
permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Emeco collaborated with the American architect Frank Gehry on Superlight, an aluminum chair which won the same award in 2004, and with British architect and designer Norman Foster  for a threepeat of the award in 2006.

The 111 Navy chair will be manufactured in North Carolina and will retail for $230.

Source: Dan Fogelson, Emeco
Writer: Chris O'Toole

From Puerto Rico to Carlisle: CEO’s unlikely trip shapes Markant Corporation into an IT winner

It took Ivelisse Alemany two years and an estimated four pounds of paperwork, but she finally was awarded Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program certification, which aims to help minority and disadvantaged businesses through federal contracts, last September.

For Alemany, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico and has only been in Pennsylvania for six years, the achievement is impressive enough on its own, but she has taken her company, Markant Corporation, along for a successful ride. Markant, which provides professional, technical and web-based information technology services and enhancements to the federal government, has run lean and earned repeat business, resulting in steady growth that has doubled its workforce to 30 since 2007.

After earning her Master's degree in human resources management, she wasn’t looking for a managerial job six years ago, but that’s what a friend steered her toward and she landed the position for Markant. When the owner wanted out of the IT business, Alemany didn’t want to let Markant go. So she went in on the business with its former (and current) CFO Carl Hintz, with Alemany purchasing 51 percent.

“It was very challenging and scary at the time, but we believed we could improve the business,” she says. “There was already cash flow, which made it easier for us to borrow money and focus on growth.”
Alemany, by the way, still handles all HR duties, because “I like working with my employees, and I don’t want to forget where I came from.”

Markant, which moved to its current location at the Murata Business Center in Carlisle in December 2008, provides IT expertise that aim to boost the security, performance, efficiency and responsiveness of its customers. The company's IT pros develop and customize software, support secure networks and e-mail, and provide information assurance support for federal agency customers.

The company bids on contracts and has actually provided local jobs for federal installations in Mechanicsburg and Chambersburg. Recently, Markant provided experts to help protect Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) data for the Department of Defense and Alemany is confident that the company will secure at least two more contracts by the end of the year, allowing the company to add even more staff.

“Some people try to diversify but you can’t do everything,” Alemany says. “It’s going well for us with the federal government and that’s where we want to stay.”

Source: Ivelisse Alemany, Markant Corporation
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Energy companies give old appliances purpose with first-of-its kind PA facility

That old freezer or fridge in the basement is definitely an energy-guzzler. But what to do with the big, cold, heavy box when it's time to move on?

The region's first appliance recycling center opened last week in Hatfield, Montgomery County as part of a joint effort from PECO, PPL Electric Utilities and FirstEnergy. JACO Envrionmental will operate the facility, which will eventually serve 80 percent of the state's electric utility customers and will create about 40 new, green jobs.

Refrigerators and freezers made prior to 1990 use three times more electricity than newer appliances. Aoubt 95 percent of each unit will be environmentally recycled by JACO, including metals, plastics, oils and foam insulation.

"Old refrigerators contain substances such as mercury, oil and ozone-eating CFCs," says Michael Dunham, director of energy and environmental programs for JACO, a Washington state-based company focused on reponsible appliance recycling. "As a result, they pose a significant threat to the environment when improperly discarded. This new program helps save energy and the planet."

Through its Smart Appliance Recycling, PECO will pick up and recycle older, working refrigerators and freezers for free and pay customers $35. Also, PECO will pick up older, working window air conditioners and pay customers $25. PECO estimates customers will save about $150 annually on energy bills by recycling their outdated, underperforming appliances.

The program is in response to PA's Act 129, the 2008 mandate that requires state electric utilities to help customers reduce energy use by 1 percent by May, 2011 and by 3 percent by May, 2013.

Source: Michael Dunham, JACO Environmental
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Daflure helps make net zero energy LEED-Platinum home a reality in Central PA

Justin McClure admits he’d be bending the truth if he said net zero energy homes are close to becoming a mainstream concept. But the LEED-Platinum Standard home his company worked on, the first of its kind in Central PA, is a pretty good example of what it will take to get the idea done.

The home’s location in Harrisburg’s Mount Pleasant Homes development in the diverse and historic South Allison Hill neighborhood is important, symbolic of the revitalization of the downtrodden area.  The home McClure’s Daflure worked on is the first of a 25-home development and is expected to have low to net zero energy costs by the end of the year. Tri County Housing Development Corporation spearheaded the plan, supported by city and state government, and Daflure’s ability to make the home net-zero energy--plus state and federal incentives that reduced costs--was key to its success.

“For the average American family investing in renewable energies, we’re there with payback in less than five years,” says McClure. “To get it where you have no utility cost and not relying on outside fossil fuels, is still a pretty special thing.”

With heating and cooling costs eating up the majority of a home’s energy costs (up to 65 percent), the geothermal system was a major part of Daflure’s effort (and represents about 10 percent of its business). Other contractors like insulators and window installers designed their systems to allow little to no infiltration so the HVAC system would run as little as possible. From a design standpoint, retractable awnings were installed to control solar gain, and a PV solar array was added to the roof.

The 1,675-square foot, three-bedroom home’s system is set to achieve net zero energy by maintaining a 73-degree internal environment down to 11 degrees Fahrenheit and a 17-degree Fahrenheit split in the summer. Daflure, which employs 28 and serves the Greater Harrisburg area and beyond, was chosen largely for its 31-year track record and its experience in solar and geothermal.

“We want to be responsible about it but at the end of the day it’s built enough of a buzz that other projects are getting off the ground,” says McClure. “One out of 10 new home builds might have had geothermal in it a few years ago. Now six or seven out of 10 will have one of three renewable energies in the homes we’re involved in.”

Source: Justin McClure, Daflure
Writer: Joe Petrucci

WorkXpress giving new life to self-serve software

When Central PA native and Penn State grad Treff LaPlante left for California to get his MBA, he landed smack in the middle of the tech boom of the late 1990s. He worked with a large video game company and for eBay. The one problem he kept seeing was software for business was just plain bad. It cost too much, took too long to develop and the results were usually less than stellar.

So LaPlante started working on an idea that he brought back home in 2003 and now WorkXpress, which operates out of the Murata Business Center in Carlisle as the world’s only 5GL Platform as a Service (PAAS). The platform allows non-programmers to create limitless, sophisticated business applications using five building blocks in an intuitive environment--as easy as drag-and-drop and point-and-click.

“We wanted to make customization easy, fast and affordable and take the traditional concepts out of the loop,” says LaPlante.

WorkXpress offers consultants who can build software for clients, but its goal is to make the process self-serve, so it has put a lot of effort recently into developing its online training materials. It will roll out WorkXpress University  in the next couple of weeks.

The company has been largely regional, so many light manufacturers, healthcare providers and insurance companies have taken to the service. The growth of cloud computing has made it easier for the company to venture into to other regions and sectors.  In the last few weeks, it has received inquiries and sign-ups spanning the globe, from New Jersey to Latin America.

“For five years I would pull my hair out giving my elevator pitch, and have someone look at me and say ‘I don’t get it,’” says LaPlante. “Now that Platform as a Service and cloud computing are more mainstream, it makes it so much easier to pitch.”

The company employs eight and LaPlante envisions growth there by the end of the year. LaPlante, who worked for a company at the famed IdeaLab incubator in Pasadena, said he’d choose Murata and its host of services in a heartbeat.

Source: Treff LaPlante, WorkXpress

Writer: Joe Petrucci

Taking it to the max: Organic growth for Maximus Solar

It was only a few years ago when Karen and Lamar Erdman, like many other Americans, were reassessing everything--their spending, savings, energy use, waste--as the economy began to take a dive. Karen Erdman was driving home from work when evening when it hit her--they hadn’t yet considered solar.

After some research, the Erdmans realized there were no local distributors for a solar hot water heater they wanted to purchase.  The company asked if they were interested, so the couple purchased the heater and became distributors as well. More than two years later, Maximus Solar is serving residential and commercial customers throughout Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

“It was six months of soul searching and a lot of prayer,” says Karen Erdman, a registered nurse with a background in program design and management. “We just jumped in.”

The company sold and installed solar hot water systems before adding photovoltaic roof panels to its offerings. The products are among the most highly rated in the industry. Like most working in this space, Maximus offers customers expertise in applying for state and federal incentives that return up to 55 percent of the initial investment within the first year.  In the last year, the company has grown by 200 percent.

Maximus started with a warehouse in Sacramento, Schuylkill County, and last year opened an office in the Murata Business Center in Carlisle. While her husband works full-time as a manager at a power plant, Karen Erdman drives 60 miles back and forth working the phones, taking orders and sending out information.

She expects that arrangement to change. The company has the potential to hit seven figures in sales this year, and Erdman hopes to hire office staff and full-time contractors sometime in the spring.
While she’s a big believer in the power of her products to save money and energy, Erdman says it’s important for consumers to be educated.

“I would suggest people ask multiple questions. Information is usually free,” she says. “Sometimes we turn people down because we really pride ourselves on honesty and trying to save people money. Some people who live in the woods, solar just won’t work. Or maybe a senior citizen doesn’t use enough water to warrant purchasing the solar heater.”

Source: Karen Erdman, Maximus Solar

Writer: Joe Petrucci

South Mountain represents statewide CLI's innovation

Multiple government agencies are working on an initiative that spans the state and explores and implements partnerships and programs that protect natural and cultural resources to enhance their respective region’s economic viability. As a result, the state’s Conservation Landscape Initiative (CLI), a joint effort by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that engages communities local partners with state agencies and potential funders, quite possibly could be a national model.

That's especially evident in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties, where the South Mountain CLI, one of seven in PA, has enlisted the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, among others, to encourage economic growth that will revitalize and protect local communities with an abundance of recreation and heritage tourism opportunities.

The South Mountain CLI, at the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains, encompasses 400,000 acres and nearby communities like Gettysburg, Chambersburg and Carlisle, and was born when a housing development threatened to overtake 800 acres adjacent to the Appalachian Trail.

“These four counties we work in have some of the highest rates of development in the state,” says Kim Williams, the external project lead and landscape projection coordinator for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Mid-Atlantic regional office.

“As a partnership, we’re working to protect their assets through tourism, whether they be agricultural or heritage-oriented. There’s a strong link between agriculture and how it buffers the state forest.”

The South Mountain CLI awarded nearly $50,000 in mini-grants in the fall to conservation, heritage and economic development projects.  The partnership will host a summit on Feb. 19 at Penn Township Fire Hall in Newville, Cumberland County, featuring guest speakers, including DCNR secretary John Quigley, to discuss the innovative model of conservation and preservation of sense of place on the local and state scales.

Among the CLI’s efforts: purchasing land, promoting agriculture-related entrepreneurs and the Appalachian Trail through a GPS system, identifying funding partners and education outreach.

“We hosted a meeting two years ago in Adams County and a third-generation farmer said if farming were profitable we wouldn’t have this meeting,” Says Mike Eschenmann, the DCNR lead and head of its community recreation partnerships section.  “That had an impact on me, to think about his livelihood. He doesn’t want to sell his land. He wants to keep farming but it needs to be profitable.

Source: Kim Williams, Appalachian Trail Conservancy; Mike Eschenmann, PA DCNR
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Groups' energy case study contest mobilizes students

College campuses are breeding grounds for social movements. With so much of that youthful energy focused on the environment, it makes sense to try to harness its collective power. In Pennsylvania, a group called PowerMinders has formed to try and do just that, and its first attempt--a contest for which students from around the state submitted their environmental case studies--has validated its mission.

“A little known fact is the state of PA has over 580,000 undergraduate students. If you could engage just 10 percent, we’re talking more than 50,000 students who could do an energy efficiency project,” says Bob Fiore, founder of PowerMinders. “We could impact five million homes and institute energy savings.”

Sveta McShane, a 2009 graduate of Temple University, won the contest, also sponsored by  statewide public interest organization PennFuture. McShane’s case study examined the energy use of Narberth, a small town nestled in the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia. McShane gained access to Narberth’s energy records going back to 1997, including household numbers, municipal cars, trucks and usage.  

Her report showed the town’s street lights were a major cost factor and the borough is now looking at replacing all street lights with new, energy efficient LED lighting that will also improve safety.

“I am sure many towns use energy the way Narbeth does, and they can learn from the report, as well,” says McShane.

PowerMinders is made up of close to 1,000 students who formed last year and sold CFL bulbs to family members and friends. PowerMinders co-founder, Cabrini University business administration professor Eric Malm, judged the entries.

“The more we can get students involved, the more committed they’ll be, and the more chance there will be to move legislation forward as they grow up,” says Christine Knapp, PennFuture’s director for outreach.

Source: Bob Fiore, PowerMinders; Christine Knapp, Penn Future.
Writer: Joe Petrucci
208 Lancaster-York Articles | Page: | Show All
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