BEDFORD, N.Y. -- The halls of Fox Lane High School were busy on Saturday, as the environmental group Bedford 2020 hosted its Environmental Summit and Solar Action Day.
Bedford Councilwoman Mary Beth Kass, who co-founded Bedford 2020 and serves as its co-president, said the estimated turnout was about 500.
The summit was the third hosted at Fox Lane, Kass explained. She recalled that a 2009 gathering, which was backed by members of the Bedford Garden Club and the town's Energy Advisory Panel, followed with her group's formation.
Bedford 2020's goal is to reduce the Town of Bedford's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020, Kass explained. With the decade at its halfway mark, Bedford has achieved 79 percent of the goal, according to Kass.
The summit also marked the launch of Solarize Bedford-Mount Kisco, which will promote awareness of solar energy. Kass explained that the solarize team will work on marketing and outreaching to the community. This will include getting people to understand the benefits and that it is more affordable than ever, she added.
The Solarize project is a joint venture between Bedford and Mount Kisco, which are already tied together by sharing the Bedford Central School District.
Discussing the collaboration with Mount Kisco, Bedford Supervisor Chris Burdick said they are partnering to launch the Solarize campaign and “to try to persuade residents at least to take a look at the possibilities for solar panels and energy for their homes.”
Mount Kisco Mayor Michael Cindrich described the village's role by saying, "we're going to be facilitators.” This will mean, according to Cindrich, to help people get interested in solar.
Cindrich had praise for Bedford 2020, saying “they have unbelievable energy.”
For her part, Kass said that Mount Kisco has been an “incredible partner.”
The school's commons included tables for an array of sustainability and conservation-focused groups with local ties. They included the Westmoreland Sanctuary, Bedford Audubon, the new Solarize group, the Bedford Garden Club and InterGenerate.
Sessions in nearby classrooms were held on a variety of topics, including improving home-energy efficiency, native plants and raising backyard chickens.
The summit also included public speakers in the school's large gym. One of them, Amory Lovins, is co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute. He discussed ways to reduce America's use of oil, with measures include making electric vehicles out of material such as light carbon fiber and building retrofits.
Lovins also addressed how capital investment in renewable energy has been increasing.
"This is not a fringe activity," he said.
The speaker also addressed falling demand for electricity as the economy grows, calling it a "new normal."
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