Green Iowa AmeriCorps promotes sustainability

Green Iowa Americorps

A Green Iowa AmeriCorps team member leads a class in one of their many workshops.

Living in Iowa, we all know that the weather can go from absolutely gorgeous to downright treacherous in a matter of hours. We don’t enjoy being caught in a hailstorm and the below-zero temperatures of winter can get a little long. Luckily, there’s usually always a place that can shelter us from the storm – our houses, school buildings and office buildings to name a few. But, what happens if our shelter isn’t up to par, the rain is still getting in or we feel a chilly draft?  That’s where Green Iowa AmeriCorps comes in.

Green Iowa AmeriCorps is a non-profit community service organization, hosted at the University of Northern Iowa, which serves residents of Black Hawk, Linn, Winneshiek and Dubuque counties.  Members come from around the country to empower Iowa communities to save energy through hands-on education, outreach and their specialty, home weatherization.

“We offer free energy audits to the communities, which helps save money on utility bills and makes a long-lasting home improvement,” said Ashley Wolter, Green Iowa AmeriCorps program director.”

Along with the free energy audit, the AmeriCorps team offers solutions to a home that may be wasting energy. Weatherization services include work on windows, doors, attic access, water pipes and more, so homeowners won’t be caught in a tough situation during Iowa’s infamous weather. AmeriCorps volunteers the labor; residents fund the materials, which usually varies between $50 to $350.

Eighty-four homes were weatherized in 2010-2011, and more than 6.1 million gallons of water was saved with residential efficiency improvements.

Green Iowa AmeriCorps also visits schools, community groups, conferences or any organized event armed with energy 

Green Iowa Americorps

Home weatherization is a
Green Iowa AmeriCorps specialty.
Windows, doors, and pipes are among some
of the items checked for energy efficiency.

education information and workshop activities. They offer job skill training for their members and partner with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Department of Natural Resources for outreach opportunities.

But, this team isn’t just about the services they offer, it’s about the member experience.

“Being a part of Green Iowa AmeriCorps has opened our eyes to the rest of the world,” said Wolter.

Aaron Gale joined the AmeriCorps team because he wanted to make a difference in his community. “Finding a program like Green Iowa gave me that opportunity and so much more,” said Gale. And team member Traci Popejoy found that “impossible goals were conquered through service and passion.”

The number of people interested in joining Green Iowa AmeriCorps always encourages Wolter, but you don’t have to join the team to help. The AmeriCorps is always looking for volunteers to participate in some of their outreach activities and home weatherization trips. Last year, 1,491 volunteers throughout the Cedar Valley donated more than 2,300 hours.

“We’d love more involvement from the students on campus,” said Wolter. “People are the best part of being in this organization.”

For more information about Green Iowa AmeriCorps or to volunteer, visit www.greeniowaamericorps.org.