profile martha jane murray

HEALing

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Climate

Martha Jane Murray's passion for the environment is making a big impact on reducing carbon footprints, from rebuilding efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans to energy efficient programs here in Arkansas. Story by Jillian McGehee | Photography by Larry Pennington Shot on location at the Clinton Presidential Center What began 12 years ago as a local cause has turned into a career with a state- and nationwide focus for Martha Jane Murray. A Hot Springs resident, Martha Jane felt compelled to lead a neighborhood effort to protect adjacent land from over-development on Lake Hamilton after realizing the negative impact expansion can have on the environment. "I discovered that environmental degradation and sprawl was contributing to resource depletion and dangerous climate changes," she says. "As an architect, that recognition made it impossible for me to practice architecture the same way again, morally or spiritually. The result is that I began to retrain myself to practice architecture more sustainably and to share that knowledge with others in the building industry." Now, Martha Jane is the program manager for the Clinton Climate Initiative in Arkansas. In addition to Little Rock, CCI is present in the 40 largest cities around the world. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in cities is one of CCI's main focuses. HEAL, or Home Energy Assistance Loan Program, was designed to help in that effort. Martha Jane created the HEAL program upon helping rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She was serving on the national program committee for the US Green Building Council (USGBC) when the hurricane devastated the Crescent City. "We had weekly conference calls, and the week of the hurricane I suggested we include a sustainability response to New Orleans," she says. "My focus while working with CCI in New Orleans turned out to be with affordable housing and the public schools. Since that time, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has funded $1.8 billion in New Orleans for the rebuilding of public schools that will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified." Big accomplishments result when Martha Jane is involved, and even more noteworthy is that the USGBC has used the New Orleans involvement with LEED as a national model for creating LEED school fellowship positions. The woman Martha Jane hired, Anisa Baldwin Metzger of Little Rock, now serves as the director of that national program. The concept for the HEAL program was inspired by the low-income housing work CCI did while in New Orleans. The same team that is with Martha Jane here in Arkansas retrofitted 44 homes in 100 days in New Orleans with energy efficiency as a priority. "We achieved 50 percent energy reductions in all of the homes from pre-Katrina utility use, and I felt we could do the same in Arkansas. I used our shoe factory in Wynne as the first demonstration project, providing zero interest loans to our employees to make energy upgrades in their homes after a certified assessment was performed." Her husband, Neal Munro, agreed to use their own energy savings ($40,000 annually after a lighting retrofit) as a revolving loan fund and the employees paid this back through payroll deductions. The goal of HEAL is that an energy benefit delivered at the workplace becomes the norm, creating a demand for residential energy assessments and upgrades. Jobs are created and greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically reduced, Martha Jane notes. CCI received funding from the Department of Energy through the Arkansas Energy Office with the ARRA grant #EE00179, which has allowed the 20 I N V I T I N G A R K A N S A S . C O M development of the HEAL program and training of about 40 people over two years. Phase II of HEAL is being funded through a national competitive grant from the Environmental Protection Agency and includes new implementation partners, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the city of Little Rock. The measurable outcomes are the projected energy and cumulative cost savings, about $250,000 annually, for businesses HEAL works with, including L'Oreal, Arlington Hotel and Friendship Community Care. CCI Arkansas has assessed more than 300 employee homes and facilitated more than 75 retrofits. They are scheduled to assess 350 more homes by the end of the year, including their collaboration with UAMS and the city of Little Rock, adds Martha Jane. The Arkansas program is gaining national attention. President Clinton's promotion of HEAL recently appeared in an edition of "Newsweek." Gov. Mike Beebe's presentation of the HEAL program at a CCI conference in Chicago has increased the exposure of the unique energy benefit. "The result has been interest from all over the U.S. from universities, municipalities and high profile financial institutions to replicate the HEAL program in their communities and corporations," Martha Jane says. What drives Martha Jane on a daily basis is her CCI Arkansas staff. They are "the dream team and we all work from a common goal of making a difference in individual lives and improving the environment." For more information about CCI and the HEAL program, visit arkansasenergy.org. IA

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