Going green is easier than some may think. The problem is, many people don’t know where to start or who to turn to for simple answers. Dan Gibson, an energy auditor and solar designer from Ballston Lake, launched www.oeic.us to help.
“When the [home energy] audit business changed, it seemed to me I could be a lot more helpful by doing something online than I could be just doing one house at a time,” said Gibson. “I was looking for a way to get to more people and get more information to them.”
Gibson hopes the website (which he’s touting as a blog and forum) will be a portal for the Capital District’s green needs. Launched on Oct. 1, the website is still in its infancy, but the most active portion is the 10 blogs written by experts and professionals in the energy efficiency business.
“The blogs, you can think of them as a little seminar where a professor or expert or contractor presents a lesson and people can comment, read, listen and learn,” said Gibson.
Many blogs are personality driven and attract readers because of the blogger, said Gibson. The blogs he’s accumulated, though, are carefully chosen for the content, which will focus on reducing energy use in the areas of home, transportation and food.
“The intention of these blogs is the content, topic driven,” said Gibson. “We’ll have five or six people on each blog team. It allows for a variety of opinions on the same topic and allows high quality people who really don’t have a lot of time to devote to this but have some time.”
Blogs will focus on everything from the science behind energy efficient tactics, to sustainable living, to energy saving practices. Some blog posts might be in the form of educational articles while others will be bloggers sharing personal experiences.
“How are people using less energy, whether in transportation or in the home or in eating more local food?” said Gibson. “There’s a lot of educational stuff on there about how to do specific things.”
When you hear “energy efficiency” you don’t always connect that to “local food,” said Gibson, but they’re closely related and will be a focal point of the site.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Why food?’ Because, the typical family uses more oil in food than in transportation or in their home,” said Gibson. “We have a lot of control over that. We can actually grow food in our backyard, we can’t grow oil in our backyard.”
Visitors to the site are encouraged to sign up as members. It’s completely free to join and members are given access to all portions of the site, like forums.
Forums are a piece of the site Gibson hopes will be especially useful to users because they thrive on back-and-forth discussion.
“You’ll meet people throughout the community who have a similar interest in saving energy as you do. That’s important,” said Gibson.
Once the site attracts about 300 members, Gibson expects the forums to really bloom.
“Forums are … one person expressing an opinion or asking a question and other people get to respond and it’s much more equal footing [than blogs] to respond and contribute,” said Gibson. “Forums, I think, will be a big part of the website not too far down the road.”
The Kids Korner is another component that was important for Gibson to include.
“It will be about kids, by kids, for kids. So far I’ve gotten my daughter to write one article about her baking solar cookies and cakes,” said Gibson.
Gibson wants school districts to collaborate with the site to create a section for sharing student projects and initiatives.
Besides building an online community where members seek out and share information, Gibson also wants people to post news and events of their own.
“I’m looking for people to identify things related directly to energy savings, so hopefully when someone thinks about ‘What can I do this weekend to save energy?’ they’ll look at our website as the place to find those events,” said Gibson.
He sees the site as attracting three distinct types of users.
The first level of user is someone who visits to research a particular topic and leaves. The second level is the most typical and is someone who visits once or twice a week to read a few articles, leave a couple comments and ask some questions. The third level consists of the “more hardcore” people who heavily participate on a regular basis.
“The target is the person on the site once or twice a week because with the 10 blog categories there will always be five to 10 new articles for them to look at and they can follow along that way,” said Gibson.
So far, the site has had more than 700 visitors.