The Midcoast Future Homeowners project presents a community Carbon Challenge. Sponsored by the Green Sneakers Project, Maine Department of Environmental Protection , the Camden Public Library and the University of New Hampshire’s My Energy Plan program, the challenge will provide the community with the necessary information to become educated in energy consumption, and motivate homeowners to become more energy efficient.

The Carbon Challenge is designed to create awareness of energy consumption and solutions to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging locals to challenge each other to lower their carbon footprint. The challenge will be launched on Wednesday, Aug. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Camden library. There will be fun activities as well as a presentation by Green Sneakers. All are invited to come and learn more, and consider signing up for the 2011 Midcoast Maine Carbon Challenge.

Future Homeowners, a program of Green Sneakers Midcoast, focuses on training high school students in the basics of home weatherization to reduce carbon emissions by making homes more energy efficient. Teens shadow professionals on home energy audits to learn more about home walk-thrus, such as evaluating homes for energy efficiency and determining possible improvements.

This summer, the MDEP has hired two interns, Kiera Haining and Kristina Alex, to recruit and train local high school students to do a Green Sneakers campaign with their families and friends. They will go through home walk-through training to conduct energy audits in their own homes. The two teens are helping to organize the Carbon Challenge. This competition will encourage local businesses and homeowners to challenge each other to lower their carbon emissions. By using tips from myenergyplan.net, it is very simple to lower emissions and save big bucks! This year, there will be two teams, sponsored by businesses, for other companies and homeowners to join. The team to lower their total carbon footprint the most will be the winner. Collaborators of this challenge include MDEP and the University of New Hampshire.

The intent of the Carbon Challenge is to create awareness of the impacts of large carbon emissions on the environment, and the simple ways to both lower carbon footprints and save money. In addition, the purpose of the competition is to inspire people to continue reducing carbon emissions by themselves, even past the end of the challenge.

Intern Kiera Haining said, “I think it’s a great way for people to realize their role in our environment, and take simple actions that will help both themselves and the planet in the long run.”

Local students are excited to be a part of this because this is a chance to be a part of the future. These teens will be homeowners themselves, and this is an opportunity to learn about how they can be informed owners, and how they can make a difference for our environment.

Green Sneakers is a successful neighbor-to-neighbor home energy project created by Maine Partners for Cool Communities, which is a collaboration of the Sierra Club-Maine Chapter, Maine Council of Churches, and Physicians for Social Responsibility-Maine. The partnership works with communities and their citizens throughout Maine to implement municipal and neighborhood strategies to solve global warming and improve air quality. Green Sneakers has been partially funded for one year through a generous grant from the Better Tomorrow Fund. Green Sneakers Midcoast has established a desk at the Island Institute’s offices on Main Street in Rockland.

Nancy Glassman, Green Sneakers Midcoast coordinator and student interns supervisor, said “The idea behind the youth project is to train our area young people about ways they can be smart about savings now and in the future as homeowners. They will be trained to play a role in educating their families and the community about energy efficiency as they do energy walk-throughs in their homes and identify areas where their families can save energy and money. The Carbon Challenge is a fun way for anyone to get involved in reducing our carbon footprint. It really surprised me to see how many simple, easy actions could help me reduce carbon and save money, sometimes without even having to spend any money.”

The upcoming Carbon Challenge will be a great way for the community to come together with a common goal: a lower carbon footprint. There will be more information about the challenge at the Common Ground Fair. For more information about Green Sneakers, please call 322-9147, or email greensneakersmc@gmail.com.