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Louisville Couple Chooses Sustainable Lifestyle

When you think of the green movement in Louisville, Amanda Fuller and Justin Mog could be the “poster children” for sustainability. Everything about the way they live, how they get around town, how they make everyday decisions, to choices in their careers have centered on living more simply and sustainably. Living by example allows the couple to “be the change” they “want to see in the world” (Gandhi).

Justin is the assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives at the University of Louisville where he coordinates a wide variety of campus sustainability efforts and promotes greater environmental awareness, responsibility, and behavioral changes. Meanwhile, Amanda is operations manager at Breaking New Grounds, a nonprofit group turning organic waste produced by local companies into rich soil to grow food and jobs for the economically disadvantaged in Louisvilleʼs food deserts.

Both Amanda and Justin have been car-free for years and find joy and community in biking, walking or taking the bus everywhere they need to go. They have promoted these transportation alternatives at the university and throughout the Louisville community. Justin and Amanda are both vegetarians who eat as locally as possible, growing much of their own food, sharing food with friends and neighbors, and purchasing whatever else they need at farmersʼ markets and non-chain stores.

One of the coupleʼs first acts as first-time homebuyers this year was to have their home analyzed by a certified energy rater to identify opportunities to increase efficiency. Implementing all of the recommendations of that audit is an on-going process, but, in the meantime, they do all they can to conserve energy by using fans instead of central air-conditioning, human powered tools whenever possible, and turning off lights and equipment that are not in use. In other words, they remain conscious of the fact that flipping on a switch implicates them in the mining and burning of coal, with all of its environmental and social impacts.

Both Fuller and Mog make lifestyle choices and daily decisions with a deliberate focus on reducing their carbon footprint and reliance on nonrenewable resources. Therefore, “going solar was an obvious next step when we became first-time homeowners this year”, concluded Mog.

Amanda and Justin found a home in great shape that cost $30,000 - $50,000 less than other similar-sized houses in Louisville and invested the savings in renewable energy, purchasing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system and a solar thermal system to boot. The 4 kW grid-tied PV system provides clean energy harnessed from the sun to meet their annual electricity needs. It is anticipated to keep approximately 5 tons of CO2 from being released in the atmosphere per year. On average, 28% of a homeʼs utility bill is used to heat water.

The solar thermal system will also use the sunʼs energy to help heat the water the couple will use and will eliminate the emission of approximately 0.8 tons of CO2 per year. Justin proclaims, “Now we have the fully solar-powered home of our dreams, and we can flick a switch without blowing up peopleʼs backyards in Appalachia, or contributing to the climate crisis. It's smart, clean, guilt-free power we can rely on for eons. There's no reason to wait. NOW is the time to invest in renewable energy! In our house, SOLAR keeps the lights on!” You can view Justinʼs and Amandaʼs solarized home at the Louisville Solar Tour this year on Oct 2nd on a self-guided tour or biking with a group.