Green Mountain Energy's Giant Rain Barrel is Message Board for SXSW Eco Attendees

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Water needs being tapped in Texas, with population growth driving demand for a 16% increase in fresh water by 2060

“Water is a big part of the energy story, but it doesn’t get talked about a lot. We wanted a way to bring awareness to issues around water use in a unique, personal way to the environmentally conscious... audience of SXSW Eco." - Green Mountain Energy

Water is essential to all forms of life and is becoming a more urgent topic of conversation as some communities experience extended periods of extreme drought. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see water scarcity and its impact on the environment make up an entire track of presentations taking place at SXSW Eco, October 6 – 8 in Austin, TX.

Green Mountain Energy Company is calling attention to the need for water conservation with an interactive display at SXSW Eco featuring a 500-gallon rain barrel set up in the central hallway at the conference center. Playing off the global art project created by Candy Chang, the rain barrel is set up as a giant chalk board, encouraging attendees to fill in a blank next to the phrase, “Before it’s dry, I want to”.

“People might be wondering why an electricity company is talking about water,” commented Jennifer Cregar, senior manager of sustainability, Green Mountain Energy Company. “The answer is that water is a big part of the energy story, but it doesn’t get talked about a lot. We wanted a way to bring awareness to issues around water use in a unique, personal way to the environmentally conscious, action-oriented audience of SXSW Eco.”

Water and energy often have a dependent relationship with each other, each requiring the other for consumer and industrial use. This interrelationship is known as the energy-water nexus. According to a 2012 analysis published by researchers at the University of Texas, nearly 13 percent of energy used in the U.S. is consumed in the treatment, distribution, reclamation or usage of water, the equivalent annual energy consumption of roughly 40 million Americans.

The energy-water nexus is a natural place for Green Mountain to support consumers choosing a more sustainable life, as it has done for more than 17 years through dedication to renewable energy. Electricity made from photovoltaic solar and wind energy uses virtually no water.

Here are a few ways Green Mountain is helping consumers understand and improve their water footprint:

  •     Offsetting SXSW Eco’s Carbon Emissions: For the fourth year in a row, Green Mountain is working with SXSW Eco to calculate and offset the estimated carbon footprint of attendee travel to the event. Following the event, Green Mountain will calculate those carbon emissions and support projects aimed to reduce the same amount of carbon. This year, some of the emission reductions will come from third party-verified projects completed by Wildlife Works, an organization that helps prevent deforestation in Kenya and the Congo. Deforestation has many devastating effects, including the reduction of fresh water supply.
  •     Water-Conscious Electricity Offer: Green Mountain is the only electricity retailer in Texas offering a water conservation kit to its customers, as part of an electricity plan called “Pollution FreeTM WaterSaver,” available October 2 in competitive electricity markets across Texas. Consumers can sign-up online to choose 100% wind to power their home and receive a Water Eco-Kit™ with water saving products like faucet aerators and high-efficiency showerheads.
  •     Leading by Example: Green Mountain’s corporate headquarters in Austin, TX, earned the first LEED® Platinum Commercial Interior designation in the city, in part because of its water-conscious design. Low-flow faucets and dual-flush toilets cut water usage by 50% compared to conventional offices, with modeled savings of nearly 155,000 gallons of water per year – enough to fill eight residential swimming pools!

With the increasing effects and indicators of climate change and booming populations in water-strapped areas, these issues aren’t going away anytime soon. Texas, for example, is experiencing both. As of September 2014, according to the current U. S. Drought Monitor more than 50 percent of Texas was in some form of drought. According to the Population and Water Demand Projections produced by the Texas Water Development Board, by 2060 Texas’ population will have soared to about 46 million, driving a 16% increase in demand for fresh water.

Find photos of the rain barrel and be part of the conversation by following @greenmtnenergy on Twitter.

Green Mountain Energy Company

Green Mountain is the nation’s longest serving renewable energy retailer and believes in using wind, sun and water for good. The company was founded in 1997 with the mission to “change the way power is made.” Green Mountain offers consumers and businesses the choice of cleaner electricity products from renewable sources, as well as a variety of carbon offset products and sustainable solutions for businesses. One of Green Mountain’s largest customers is the “world’s most famous office building,” the Empire State Building in New York City. Green Mountain customers have collectively helped avoid more than 30.6 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Visit us online at http://www.GreenMountainEnergy.com.

Follow us at facebook.com/greenmountainenergycompany or twitter.com/greenmtnenergy

About SXSW Eco

Now in its fourth year, SXSW Eco attracts a global community to explore, engage and co-create solutions for a sustainable world. A uniquely inclusive platform for professionals, SXSW Eco examines the critical challenges of our times through a kaleidoscopic lens of design innovation, policy tipping points, technological breakthroughs, conservation practice, entrepreneurial spirit and a culture of creativity to transform inspiration into action. For more information, visit http://www.SXSWEco.com.

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Katie Ryan
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