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One Volunteer’s Story

Jonathan Ludwig Shares His Experience as an Energy Master

Jonathan Ludwig, who completed Energy Masters this summer, became interested in the program while working on his graduate degree at American University. The opportunity to gain real-world skills while serving his community led him to apply to be an Arlington Energy Master.

“Part of my motivation for volunteering for Energy Masters,” he says, “was to use some of my time productively by helping others in the community. In this case, serving our neighbors in affordable housing units.”

Prior to starting the program, Jonathan had been spending hundreds of painstaking hours writing a masters thesis on the LEED green building rating system but hadn’t acquired any real-world knowledge or technical skills in that process. “Getting some actual hands-on experience seemed like a critical component to my education.”

Energy Masters is special, he says, “because it combines three different things that are often separate: classroom instruction, applying new knowledge and skills, and third, serving in the community all in one package. It’s unusual to be able to accomplish all three of these at once.”

In addition, Energy Masters offers an alternative way for anyone interested in sustainability to be part of the green building movement. This stands in contrast to the highly-specialized industry of green building EMconsultants, architects, and engineers.

“For people looking to be part of the green building movement, becoming involved can be daunting,” Jonathan notes. “Not everyone has the time, energy, or need, for example, to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to obtain a LEED AP credential. That’s a very high barrier to entry.” Too high, he says.

Energy Masters, in contrast, offers a more accessible, reasonable path to getting involved in the movement towards more efficient, green buildings, while serving the community.

“The best part, for me, is just getting out of the classroom, out of the office or the house, and doing some real work that helps somebody. By real work, I mean not sitting at a desk all day thinking and writing e-mails.”

Indeed, the most important aspect of Energy Masters is getting out and actively engaging in the community. It is about taking new knowledge and skills, and applying it directly in Arlington. You’re helping your neighbors and, in a local way, contributing to the massive movement towards sustainability.

“With Energy Masters, you’re switching out light bulbs, caulking leaky windows and outlets, and sealing up holes in walls. It’s pretty glamorous, let me tell you!”

But this is only the hands-on aspect of Energy Masters. Volunteers also have the opportunity to provide education about sustainability to residents and others groups in the community, including local schools.

“The best part, to me, is that we really do improve the living conditions of affordable housing residents through energy and water savings, and through a more comfortable indoor environment. Many of the residents were so thankful for our efforts.”

Having completed the Energy Masters program, Jonathan is now looking to use this experiencejonathan graduates in transitioning to a career in sustainability. Making the switch from a career in healthcare communications is challenging, he notes, but Energy Masters has helped fill a gap in the marketplace for gaining experience that is accessible and low-cost.

Going forward, he sees further expansion and maturation of the Energy Masters program.

“I certainly plan to stay engaged and supportive of Energy Masters as it grows and evolves. As a new adviser to the program, I’m excited and privileged to be part of that journey.”