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Becher Agency Working on Save-A-Ton Campaign

Thomas Becher rolls out early concepts for Save-A-Ton.

by Gene Marrano

Roanoke County’s “RC Clear” committee, a group of citizens and county staffers working to promote a green agenda to residents and the business community, has hired a creative firm to help spread their message.

The Becher Agency (tba) has been selected to work on the Save-A-Ton campaign, where people will learn what they can do to save one ton of carbon emissions annually, by doing things as simple as replacing incandescent bulbs with the compact fluorescent type.

RC Clear, which is using a small federal grant to hire tba, is also promoting energy audits that can show residents and businesses where they are wasting energy, and what they can do to become more energy efficient at home.  The Becher Agency was chosen several months ago from a group of creative firms that bid on the project. A Save-A-Ton logo, website and mascot that can be employed for public appearances were among the ideas pitched by tba president Thomas Becher and his creative team.

RC Clear is working in conjunction with Roanoke City’s Clean and Green committee, tasked with the same goals in the city. Save-A-Ton originated from the Clean and Green committee, but RC Clear has hired tba to work on the concept. “It would be good if we did something together,” said Anne Marie Green, head of general services for Roanoke County and a member of RC Clear, “[since] this is a regional effort.”

At a recent joint meeting of the two groups, Becher and tba staff members went over early design concepts for Save-A-Ton, which will roll out this fall in time for an energy expo at the Roanoke Civic Center. Print ads, billboards and radio spots could be part of the mix.

Becher said tba’s approach would appeal to “the money angle” rather than relying on any civic urge to go green. After all, having a well insulated home with fewer leaks means running the air conditioning or heating system less often – not running up those electricity bills. “The pocketbook, if you will,” said Becher, “will carry the day.”

tba’s Carolyn Kiser said another angle of the Save-A-Ton campaign will stress that people can make small incremental changes while working toward the goal of reducing carbon emissions by one ton per household in the Roanoke Valley. “[This campaign] speaks to financial gains [and] shows the benefit of small changes,” she told the joint group.

Saving money by reducing energy costs could include fewer car trips as well, potentially leaving money that could be spent elsewhere, on family trips or on entertainment. That angle will also be part of tba’s approach in encouraging people to become greener. “A few degrees on your thermostat [can save money for other things],” said tba’s Ariel Clark.

Gregg Lewis, a Salem architect who designs LEED-certified energy efficient buildings and homes, is now chairman of the Community Alliance for Energy Efficiency in southwestern Virginia. At the joint RC Clear-Clean & Green meeting, Lewis said he liked what tba planned to do in bringing the Save-A-Ton campaign to local schools, perhaps with the aid of a “Do Little” mascot. “A great mechanism to getting parents and adults to react,” said Lewis, knowing that children will go home with information about Save-A-Ton and more enthusiasm for going green.

Thomas Becher said his agency will strive to keep it simple, “trying to overcome the green message overload” in finalizing their concepts for Save-A-Ton. “In these days of high fuel prices and rising electric rates, energy conservation isn’t just good for the environment – it’s great for the pocketbook,” said Becher. “We’re excited to work with Roanoke County to unveil a fun, informative campaign that will make a difference.”

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