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Walking the Talk – Putting the Ecotech Lifestyle in Practice

“We don’t go running away from our values.  We go drifting away, and one day wake up in a place we never meant to be, drifting in a direction we would have never chosen.” ~John G. Blumberg, Good to the Core

When I was hired as Education Corporation of America (ECA)’s first Manager—Environmental Operations, I was told the story of how my position came to be. The man who hired me, Ron Maillette, was at that time ECA’s Chief Information Officer. Ron described to me how, as ECA’s first Ecotech plans were already well underway, he had an “epiphany moment” when he realized how important it would be for ECA to “walk the Ecotech talk”—not just at Ecotech, but at our corporate headquarters and at our other campus brands nationwide. Ron went to his boss, our Chief Executive Officer, and shared his epiphany. Our CEO agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But this blog entry isn’t so much about ECA and Ecotech as it is about recent happenings in my life. In unveiling our Ecotech Lifestyle campaign, I’d been encouraged to re-evaluate if my walk is matching my talk. I concluded that my own walk needed to improve. Here’s what I did about that:

My wife and I—along with our five “fuzzy children”—live in a suburban home that is now 13 years old. Last winter our natural gas heat furnace went out. Repairing the furnace would have cost $500, but we discovered that both the furnace and the furnace manufacturer were defunct, so future parts could be a problem. A replacement unit wasn’t in our budget, so we decided to dress warmly indoors and hope spring arrived soon.

Of course, in the State of Alabama and in the age of climate change/global “weirding” we pretty much went straight from too cold to too hot, with only a few storms and some flooding in-between. With the heat came even more bad news: Our air-conditioning unit was down for the count, too. As our budget had not improved, the prospects for replacement looked grim indeed.

We might have scraped together the funds to patch our outdated, energy-inefficient units for a while longer. But I study climate change, and the thought of our own AC unit leaking potent greenhouse gases and contributing to our global crisis, including additional heat waves and increasingly weird weather, was intolerable to me. So instead we scraped together the funds for a home energy audit and some expert advice.

Although the energy audit found lots of (expected) bad news about just how leaky and inefficient our whole house was, there was some surprising good news as well: We could get an affordable loan to cover not only the cost of new, efficient heating and cooling units, but even more importantly to cover improved insulation for our home so that it required less heating and cooling energy/dollars to begin with! Along with the loan came options for energy efficiency rebates and other ways to compound our dollar savings along with our energy savings. Our home is now cool again. Our lower energy costs help offset the loan repayment costs and will be “free” savings once the loan is fully paid off. I call than win/win for us and the planet!

That’s another definition of the Ecotech Lifestyle: “Win/win” for us and the planet.

Kyle Crider is Program Chair at Ecotech Institute and Education Corporation of America. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a double-emphasis in Urban Planning & Policy Analysis. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, Neighborhood Development (LEED AP ND). He is currently in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Ecotech Institute or Education Corporation of America. Email Kyle at