Stopping Natural Gas Leaks & Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions NOW using Community Geothermal Systems – with Audrey Schulman & Zeyneb Magavi, HeetMa

Episode 33

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Hosted by
Ron Kamen

Ron Kamen has decades of expertise & leadership in catalyzing exponential change in sustainable energy adoption with governments, non-profits, and businesses.

Quantum Quote:  “We had identified methane as a greenhouse gas on steroids, with 84 times the impact of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years. If you cut methane, you get a bigger impact faster. It’s a huge lever in a positive sense.”

Did you know that some natural gas pipes were installed when Lincoln was President? And that there are thousands of utility-reported gas leaks in many old gas pipes around the country?

Energy efficiency is great for lowering emissions, and should always be our first choice.  But building emissions are still high. The culprit? Natural gas used for heating our buildings, hot water, and cooking.

How do we transition off natural gas while maintaining reliable and affordable heat – and keeping local jobs?

Audrey Schulman & Zeyneb Magavi are the Co- executive Directors of the Home Energy Efficiency Team Massachusetts (Heet MA) organization. They first started in 2008 when a handful of local people were terrified by climate change. They organized work parties on weekends to cut emissions and energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient, and eventually created HEET. 

They are now on a mission to create the biggest energy shift: Providing thermal energy to homes & buildings with community geothermal boreholes that are connected by a shared loop – using the rights-of-way of the natural gas utilities.

In this episode, Audrey and Zeyneb talk about the danger of gas leaks in our communities. How we are still using old gas pipes that were installed 100-200 years ago. They also talk about community geothermal heating and cooling systems that replace leaking gas pipes in a more natural way that is not only safer for everyone – but helpful to the environment as well.

Sign up for the free 60-minute AWESome EarthKind™ Clean Energy Demonstration to discover 3 simple actions you can take to start saving money and make the world a better place – without having to learn complex technology.

SuperNova #1: [on Gas stove poisoning the air in your house] “Burning gas produces carbon monoxide. People don’t necessarily turn on their hoods, and their hoods may not be connected outside. Most houses are often air sealed, particularly in the winter. If you have a gas stove, the chances of childhood asthma increases by 40%. Whenever you turn on your gas stove, always make sure you have proper ventilation, either with the stove hood or fans & open windows.”

SuperNova #2: [How our generation is still using the old natural gas pipe system.] “Some of the natural gas pipes were put in the ground in Lincoln’s presidency. They are still there and still working, which is actually kind of incredible. However, like other problems with old infrastructure, the gas pipes are leaking and can cause catastrophic explosions.”

SuperNova #3: [Using induction cooktops for a more convenient, healthy lifestyle.] “Induction cooktops are faster,  more precise, more efficient, cleaner and healthier. The induction only heats up your pan. There’s no external heat. So you don’t have to worry about a young or older person getting burned. There are no emissions, so you don’t have to worry about the carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The air quality in your home is better.”

SuperNova #4: “We saw we had a process already in place. We were going into our communities, ripping up the streets, taking out the old gas pipe and spending money on putting new gas lines in. So we said, well, if we pull out that branch, What could we do instead?. We wanted it to be safer, lower cost, zero emissions, equitable, & accessible to everyone.  We wanted to keep good jobs for the workers. We came up with the idea of interconnecting geothermal vertical boreholes and delivering temperature to the customer homes where a heat pump is waiting to pull off either heating or cooling for their homes.”

SuperNova #5: [The use of Geothermal Boreholes] “Basically, it’s a little mini geothermal heating system. So you’re just drilling holes, you’re letting the earth heat this fluid, and then you pass in the fluid around to the various different homes and whoever else is in the neighborhood.”

SuperNova #6: “At the time that I began, this was just feeling a little bit powerless to affect the change that was needed. I saw the scale of the change needed for my children’s future – for all children’s future,  for this awesome world. It’s a great world. And we’re not doing right by it right now.  I just didn’t have the capacity personally.What I had to learn was that I could do something about it if I worked with a large network of other people. And if we just opened ourselves to the risk of trying and really imagining what could be. And, I’m demanding that our imagination for that future be not just okay –  but better.”

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Episode 33