A fierce wind blew snowflakes past the windows of a small home in the Kenilworth neighborhood in Asheville on March 21, where volunteers with Blue Horizons, a new organization providing a comprehensive hub of energy-efficiency programs, worked to seal windows and doors, keeping that cold winter air at bay. It was a group effort not only to keep the home more comfortable, but also to save energy and energy costs—an effort that benefits everyone.

The volunteer day represented the larger work of Blue Horizons, helping to provide resources to create more energy efficient homes in Asheville and Buncombe County, especially among low income housing. More energy efficient homes means less energy consumption, less expense to residents, and less negative impact on the environment.

Blue Horizons was formed through the Energy Innovation Task Force (EITF), a working group convened in April 2016 by the City of Asheville, Buncombe County and Duke Energy, with two primary goals: to transition the Duke Energy Progress – West Region to a cleaner, affordable, and smarter energy future, rooted in community engagement and collaboration; and to avoid or delay the construction of a 190 MW natural gas plant planned for 2023. UNC Asheville Director of Sustainability Sonia Marcus and Associate Provost and Dean of University Programs Ed Katz are both members of the EITF.

The volunteers, including Renee Mazurek, adjunct lecturer in environmental studies at UNC Asheville, and several of her students, gathered with representatives from the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, and Duke Energy to celebrate Blue Horizons’ launch.

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Originally published April 18, 2018.