In recognition of October's designation as Energy Awareness Month, here are two current programs in the United States addressing issues of energy conservation and consumption.

Now in its fifth year, the Change a Light, Change the World campaign promotes the wider use of energy-efficient bulbs and fixtures. The program is sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE), and runs through November 2004. In a nod to the growing number of Energy Star fixtures becoming available, this year's campaign includes a challenge to consumers to replace their five most frequently used fixtures (or at least their bulbs) with models that have earned the Energy Star rating. 'If every home in America made this change, we'd prevent air pollution equivalent to the emissions from more than 8 million cars,' says EPA Energy Star spokesperson Wendy Reed.

The Change a Light program also partners with utilities, manufacturers, and retailers during the months of October and November to offer incentives for consumers to make the switch to Energy Star. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), which focuses its attention on Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, offers online resources including a retail store locator, savings calculators, environmental information and updates on regional opportunities. The Conservation Services Group coordinates marketing activities for Connecticut, Long Island, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont Energy Star partner utilities; and the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) has plans to launch a 30-second commercial spot directing conscience consumers to for retailers who carry Energy Star-qualified lighting products during the 2004 Change a Light Campaign. The New Jersey Clean Energy program is also an active advocate of the Energy Star program. For more information, visit

Whereas, most programs target consumers, NSTAR, a Massachusetts-based gas and energy utility, has found an ingenious way to promote energy efficiency: by giving lighting designers a free hand. For the past year, NSTAR has been offering a rebate to its industrial and commercial customers of up to 75 percent of the incremental cost of switching from standard to higher efficiency equipment. The type of equipment used is up to the discretion of the lighting designer. The utility stipulates, however, that all projects must use 20 percent fewer baseline watts per square foot than required by the Massachusetts energy code.

'The program has been very well received,' states Lisa Zidel, a lighting designer with SEI Companies and one of the authors of the NSTAR program. 'Lighting designers are very interested in how they can sell themselves through the rebate.' With the project less than a year old, NSTAR has yet to tabulate the numerical success of its program so far. Yet David MacLellan, a project manager at NSTAR, has high hopes. 'It's not just the equipment, but the design that keeps buildings from being energy efficient. We don't care about the equipment; just get the wattage down. Customers, designers, architects-everyone seems to like it.' Visit katherine lack