Green Lifestyle

Published on November 26th, 2019 | by Scott Cooney


Greening teachers’ and organic farmers’ homes for free: home efficiency for everyone

Teachers provide incredible services to the community. The work is tough, the kids can be little pieces of s**t sometimes, administrators need a lot of paperwork, and parents have expectations of grandeur. The paychecks, however, are not commensurate with the workload. Similarly, farmers provide local food and food security, decrease our reliance on fossil fuels since the food doesn’t have to be shipped long distances, and help keep ecosystem services healthy in the area (pollination, rainwater filtration, open space preservation, etc.). Similarly, the paycheck for a farmer is not commensurate with the workload.

I come from a line of educators: my mom, two of my Aunts and an Uncle were K-12 teachers. So this struggle of work that is publicly valuable but not valued enough by the public has always been top of mind. I was drawn to trying to save the planet, however, so sustainability education became my calling (not far from the tree–just educating on sustainability, which is what this time in our history needs). My company, Pono Home, greens homes, primarily through efficiency, but also education and maintenance.

Our team has greened more than 13,000 homes across the state of Hawaii, along with a couple of projects on the mainland. We’re offsetting more than 11 million pounds of carbon pollution and 230 million gallons of water. But more importantly, we’re saving our customers more than $3 million a year that would otherwise go to pay their utility bills. Out here in Hawaii, our electricity is very dirty – mostly fossil fuel. So of that $3 million a year, potentially $2 million or more of that goes directly to buy oil…or used to. Now, it recirculates much more readily in Hawaii’s economy, helping ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained, but Employed) individuals increase their potential for putting some money away in savings, or getting a few extra things a month to help their families.

Recently, we launched a Patreon page to raise money to allow us to green teachers’ homes for free. Once we have enough money in the Patreon account, we use it to green homes of deserving individuals for free. Recently we greened the home of a teacher named Claire Fallon, who also happened to live at a farm. So…in essence, the perfect candidate! The job was a small one – Claire had already done a lot of home efficiency, so we were able to do an hour’s worth of work and install almost $100 worth of green goodies (advanced power strip, LEDs, high efficiency shower and faucet fixtures).

Our service tech going over how to read the fine print of an electricity bill with teacher Claire Fallon, a Live Pono grant recipient!

Even though it was a small job, the impact of home efficiency is legit. And this is the beauty of this program–a little really does go a long way. The results speak for themselves:

$4200 in post-tax income saved for a teacher’s family is enough for a down payment on a new car and a year’s worth of car payments. Or a couple of months’ rent. Or groceries. Or a small upgrade to a house. Anything is better than flushing that money down the drain paying for unnecessary energy and water waste, right?

Check out our Patreon page, and if you feel compelled, please consider chipping in a dollar a month. When you think return on investment, a $135 job reduced $2800 or more of money spent on oil. One dollar, in other words, reduces 7.3 pounds of carbon pollution, and wipes out $20 of oil revenue per month.

Click here to learn more and become a patron! 


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About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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