Green Laws

Small towns can make a difference with energy efficient laws

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Everyone knows how important it is to be environmentally friendly. In my town of Southampton, it’s the law!

Southampton is located on the eastern end of Long Island in New York. It is a beautiful town surrounded by a bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Its natural beauty has made it a popular destination for tourists and people building second homes—very large second homes. Although these homes are spectacular to look at, they use a great deal of energy.

Leaders in Southampton wanted to do something about the increasing use of energy in our small town. Town Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst worked to pass two important laws to help.

Throne-Holst’s first official act as a member of the town council was to pass an ordinance allowing the people to hang their clothes out to dry. Using a clothesline to dry clothes in the outdoors rather than a gas or electric dryer had been outlawed by a previous council.

Throne-Holst also introduced a Green Building Code requiring newly built homes to be energy efficient.

"The Green Building Code directs people…to build houses according to the energy codes of Long Island Power Authority," she told Scholastic News. The Power Authority is a public power company that supplies electricity to Long Island.

The energy codes are called the Home Energy Rating System (HERS). Other towns on Long Island have passed similar bills. Southampton’s law is the most stringent on the island. It is also the most unique because the bigger the house you build, the more strict the energy code.

Building an energy efficient house can be expensive, but over time, the effort pays for itself in reduced electric bills, Throne-Holst said.

As a councilwoman and an environmentalist, Throne-Holst is a leader who practices what she preaches. I asked her if she would be doing anything special for Earth Day this year.

"I try to think environmentally every day," she said. "I try to think about things like turning my heat off when I leave in the morning. I don't have a dishwasher. I do my dishes in my sink. I try to use as little water as I can. I drive an energy efficient car. I try to make every day Earth Day."

You can, too, she said. Turn off your bedroom lights when leaving the room; turn off the water while brushing your teach; and recycle!

"It is important to start good habits as kids," she said. "Kids also have an influence over adults. Adults are likely to listen to kids. Kids have a lot of power to get adults to be more environmentally conscious."

EARTH DAY @ 40

Celebrate 40 years of Earth Day and the fight to keep our planet clean on April 22. Scholastic Kid Reporters explore ways to make every day Earth Day in the Earth Day @ 40 Special Report.

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The Scholastic Kids Press Corps was a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation that brought news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.