Kelly an advocate for 'going green'
When Alexis Kelly returned home from college in St. Louis, MO she viewed the Park Rapids lakes area through new "lenses." "There are not too many places like this left," she'd realized. "I'd taken for granted the beauty of this area." Her metro e...
When Alexis Kelly returned home from college in St. Louis, MO she viewed the Park Rapids lakes area through new "lenses."
"There are not too many places like this left," she'd realized. "I'd taken for granted the beauty of this area."
Her metro experiences awakened an environmental conscience and consciousness. "I decided to go green."
Assuming her role as communications manager at NorthStar Orthodontics, she headed to the Internet, discovering a plethora of advice.
Minnesota Power advised use of "green power" - harnessing solar, wind and geothermal energy. NorthStar now purchases 10 percent of its power from wind energy.
"And I hope to expand this," Kelly said. Some energy programs cost more initially, she said, "but there's a payoff in the long run. It's not necessarily a monetary return. It's a life investment."
NorthStar Orthodontics has also taken the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star Challenge.
The Energy Star Challenge, launched by EPA in March 2005, calls for an energy efficiency improvement of 10 percent or more for the more than 5 million commercial and industrial buildings in the United States.
Kelly intends to challenge other area companies to join the initiative.
Forty-five percent of US greenhouse gas emissions are caused by buildings and industrial facilities. Making more efficient use of energy is the best starting point for reducing our carbon footprint and saving money, the EPA advises.
"There are so many changes that can be made," she said, citing energy-efficient light bulbs as an example.
Installing motion sensors turns off lights when no one's in the building. And a programmable thermostat heats the building only when it's occupied. Computers at NorthStar are turned off when employees leave.
"Dad's behind me on this," she said of John Kelly, president of NorthStar.
A new NorthStar logo reflects the commitment; the star is now propelled by wind. And all the company's marketing material is environmentally friendly.
She's leaving few stones unturned. Dental appliances now leave NorthStar packed in environmentally-friendly, biodegradable foam, housed in recyclable boxes.
She's spoken with the UPS carrier to ask if a "Green Fleet" vehicle may be available in the area.
Inside the office, she's been on the lookout for conservation measures. "I want to make awareness part of our culture," she said. "That's my goal, to reuse instead of throwing away."
"My emphasis is to bring the awareness home, here in the office."
The EPA estimates that if the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings in the U.S. improved 10 percent, Americans would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from about 30 million vehicles while saving about $20 billion.
Today, leading companies realize that energy efficiency is not only the first step to being green, but is also about smart business, according to the EPA.
Energy efficiency can have a high return on investment and is necessary in order to remain competitive. Businesses, organizations and governments that are leaders in energy efficiency use about 30 percent less energy than their competitors.
Kelly is hoping to share what she's learned in her exploratory mission. She may be reached at 732-9503, Ext. 115.