Last year, OPPD launched the Greener Together Program, designed to help customers collaborate with others to support community environmental projects throughout the greater Omaha area.
The program implements grassroots improvements, and every project funded will have a focus on making a positive, long-term impact on the community’s sustainability.
OPPD collaborated with Great Plains Nursery last spring on a pilot project, planting an edible orchard at the OPPD Arboretum.
And now the program is announcing the first two projects chosen to receive funding.
“We are excited to be able to fund two impactful projects this round,” said Britney Gibilisco, OPPD product manager. “And we look forward to supporting many more projects in the future. We plan to fund projects two times a year moving forward.”
Toward that end, the program will begin accepting applications for the next round of projects on Feb. 1.
“We are delighted to kick off another round of project funding, made possible by the generous contributions of our Greener Together members,” she said.
Whispering Roots was awarded $50,000 to work with students from grade school through high school on sustainability, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and agricultural fields of study. The nonprofit works with students who live in socially and economically underserved communities.
Students will learn about the those fields by building raised garden beds using plastic lumber. The lumber is made from plastic waste diverted from the landfill. The project aims to build raised garden beds at 10 K-12 schools within the Omaha urban area.
The project will educate students on several aspects of environmental sustainability, including growing food sustainably and using resources responsibly. The funding will help cover the cost of building and installing the garden beds. The funding will also pay for soil, peat moss, vermiculite, plants and vegetables, and compost.
“We are extremely honored and excited to be chosen by the voters to collaborate with OPPD, along with our partner Firstar Fiber, on this wonderful community project,” said Greg Fripp, founder and CEO of Whispering Roots. “Finding ways to reuse materials in our pursuit to provide healthy food to those in need is a key component of our long term sustainability initiative.”
Habitat for Humanity of Omaha was awarded $80,000 for a pilot to help reduce utility costs for low-income households. The nonprofit’s project is will help homeowners lower their utility bills by reducing their nonrenewable energy consumption.
The project will provide access to solar energy for homeowners who otherwise would not be able to afford it. That will increase equitable access to renewable power. The savings achieved through this project will help Habitat homebuyers become successful homeowners.
The funding Habitat receives will cover the cost of three solar energy systems, including solar panels, battery storage and installation.
“Habitat Omaha is proud and grateful to partner with OPPD and the Greener Together Program to pilot solar energy options for low-income households,” said Drew Lier, Habitat of Omaha’s director of construction. “Habitat Omaha is committed to reducing home energy consumption and utility costs for families, with a goal of also increasing comfort, health and safety.
“This opportunity will help increase access to renewable options like solar energy for more of our neighbors.”
Just over 4,700 customers so far have signed up to participate in the Greener Together Program. Participants contribute to the effort monthly. All funds collected go toward selecting and supporting green projects within the greater Omaha community.
“Funding and selecting the projects is only possible with the support and contributions of our Greener Together members, Gibilisco said. “This program is a really easy way to participate and make a difference in our community.”
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