Illinois Energy Customer Wins First Place For ``Green Improvements`` in Better Homes And Gardens

In April, 2008, local Realtor Laura Reedy Stukel and her family took on a major remodeling project. They gutted their 1966 Elmhurst home, looking for every opportunity to make it more energy efficient. Now that hard work is paying off in the shape of significantly reduced utility bills as well as some opportunities Stukel never imagined. The Stukel’s renovation project was named the green improvements winner in this year’s Better Homes and Gardens Magazine’s Home Improvement Challenge. Her project is featured in the “Living Green” section of the September issue which hits newsstands in late August. The article explains that her entry was selected over bigger projects such as geothermal heating and cooling or solar panel installation because of her focus on the cost-effectiveness of planned projects, and the desire to create a home “that offers energy efficiency, better (indoor) air quality and long-lasting style and function.” So far, the Stukels have found that their highest monthly heating bill after the remodel was lower than the average bill for the whole previous year, including the cooling months.

Team Depot Supports at Family Project Sage Matters in Chicago
A team of eleven crewmembers from the local Home Depot rolled up their sleeves on Tuesday, December 29th to help a local community center go green. They came out to weatherize and air-seal the brick three-flat that supports neighborhood children from grade school through high school and their families. The work day was the middle step in a three-part effort known as “Project Sage.” The project’s name comes from the focus on being wise about going green. The project defines green through the lens of one of FamilyMatters’ core values and one of its key programs. Project Sage is tightly aligned with the core value Responsible Choices and a focus on creating Safe Spaces for the children. Project Sage was founded by long-time friend of FamilyMatters, Laura Reedy Stukel. Stukel is an EcoBroker Certified real estate agent, specializing in energy efficient home sales, purchases and remodeling choices. Her own home remodel was recognized in 2009 as “Green Improvements” winner in their annual “Home Improvement Challenge.” Stukel donated her entire cash prize from Better Homes and Gardens to launch Project Sage. Her goal is to help FamilyMatters make their building more comfortable and safer – and to help them save $1000
annually on their heating and cooling bills. She sees the project as a one-time effort to provide longterm support to FamilyMatters. Once the project is complete, the annual savings can be redirected to programming focused on the children. Stukel is creating this legacy project in memory of the woman she mentored at FamilyMatters as a teen and who became a life-long friend. Her friend died of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia two years ago at age 28.

The Team Depot efforts were aligned with other generous corporate donations. Funds from the Hitatchi Foundation in North America and a FamilyMatters donor covered the upgrade to a more efficient boiler earlier in the fall. Illinois Energy supplied the insulated siding to seal the former air conditioning openings on the exterior. The final step of the project will come in the spring when insulation will be introduced to the attic. Stukel will present a series of workshops with the children in January to educate them on the upgrades to the building, help them understand how they fit with the concept of Responsible Choices and Safe Spaces and help them envision green opportunities beyond FamilyMatters. In themeantime, because of Team Depot’s support, Family Matters expects to see an immediate reduction in electrical usage for lighting, in water usage and temperature improvement in several of the staff offices as well as the Teen Boys’ meeting space. Some of the energy efficiency improvements also made the building safer for the children who use it. The prime example was in securing a glass panel on the entry door. The gap at the top was allowing cold air to enter themain programming space. By proactively identifying the problem, securing the glass and eliminating the gap the team also reduced the risk of the glass further slipping and shattering. An extra outcome from Team Depot’s efforts is that it put FamilyMatters in a position to consider solar electrical power in the future. Grants for solar conversion are becoming available and a tight building with reduced demand for air conditioning and lighting can convert more effectively. It truly was a day of “sage” work with excellent short-term, mid-term and long-term benefits for FamilyMatters.