In 2014, Mario was invited to visit to the U.S. to share his experience and learn from ours as a guest of the non-profit organization Community Solutions. I had given Mario copies of my books The Homeowner’s Energy Handbook, and The Home Energy Diet, and we kept in touch on a professional level over the years. He reached out in advance of his trip and now it was my turn to play the host, at least for the Vermont portion of his travels. When you live in a place, you never seem to do the things the tourists do unless you have company, and this would be a great excuse to visit some of the attractions I had always wanted to visit in Vermont. Thus was borne the First International Vermont Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Exploration Tour. I reached out to colleagues for thoughts and recommendations, and pared the long list down to a more manageable three-day tour. Vermont is a leader in many ways throughout the energy sphere in the U.S. and the accompanying entrepreneurial spirit we encountered was truly inspiring.
Our first visit was a home inspection where an air-source heat pump was recently installed. The concept of intentional year-round space conditioning is foreign enough to a native of the Caribbean region, but to consider that there is enough heat to squeeze out of the air with the temperature hovering around 0°F, and then deliver it to the indoors at a temperature of around 100 degrees F seemed implausible! The proof was in the infrared thermal imaging camera Mario held for the first time. A $3,000 electronic test instrument is not an option in the Cuban economy.
On our walk across the parking lot to lunch at Burlington’s , he insisted that I take an infrared photo of his freezing cold cheek.
We were joined at lunch by several friends and colleagues, all welcoming him to America, asking questions and trading stories. Mario reminded us to be careful about calling ourselves Americans. “I am also American, as is everyone living throughout North, South, Central, and Latin America.” The obvious is not always so without the proper perspective.
Next Week: Burlington Electric Department - 100 percent renewable grid electricity for an entire city.
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