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Bloomington Energy Leaders Recognized
Updated March 22, 2016 6:13 AM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - Local community members who display an exceptional commitment to improving home energy efficiency were recognized by the Monroe County Energy Challenge.

Energy Leaders were nominated by community members and were selected for various achievements including a 70 percent reduction in home energy use, teaching youth to perform basic home weatherization, and organizing neighborhood energy assessments. Four individuals and one youth group have been selected, with one additional Energy Leader to be announced each week for the remainder of the year.

"Highlighting energy leaders in the community allows us to recognize individuals who are committed to finding innovative ways to save energy and sharing those ideas with others," said Energy Outreach Coordinator Jackie Duemler. "These local leaders are striving to make a positive impact on the community and we want to reward their efforts."

The inaugural group of Energy Leaders being recognized by the Challenge are:

  • Woodie Bessler, an electrical engineer by profession, has a passion for helping people understand energy and use it wisely. He has documented savings available through energy conservation (including a 70 percent reduction in energy use in his own home) and performed energy assessments for the MCEC. He is also a frequent presenter of the Going Solar program which has been given to approximately 1,000 people across Indiana.
  • Gayle Hart is dedicated to helping community members conserve energy. After receiving a free home energy assessment in 2015, she followed up on her pledge to save energy by installing more insulation. Early this year she requested a thermal image of her home in order to make additional energy improvements and organized five additional neighbors to receive home assessments to help them save energy and money.
  • Caryn Hojnicki, a staff member at the Indiana University Department of Athletics, was an early adopter of the messages of the Energy Challenge, and has taken the lead in sharing these messages with her fellow staff members as one of the first members of the Workplace Partner Program.
  • ICEY was founded by a group of local high school students whose¬†members are¬†from diverse religious traditions. In addition to weatherizing dozens of local homes, they have reached out to youth in other cities across Indiana and taught them weatherization techniques.
  • Molly O'Donnell has not only taken measures to save energy in her own home (like using a foot warmer instead of turning up the heat), but she has also shared her knowledge far and wide. As part of Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, Molly has taught numerous "Using Energy Prudently" workshops in congregations from South Bend to Evansville.

"We are proud to have so many community members who are dedicated to reducing energy use and helping others do the same," said City of Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton. "Engagement is what our community is all about."

The Energy Leader program is part of the Monroe County Energy Challenge, which launched in January 2015 and lasts through the end of 2016. The Energy Challenge is the community's entry into the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a nationwide, two-year-long competition for $5M aimed at increasing energy efficiency in homes, government buildings and schools.

Energy Leaders can be nominated at, by calling (812) 349-3558,or by e-mailing

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