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One couple’s attempt to become less energy dependent

by Jane Ulman

January 3, 2008 | 7:00 pm

Marc and Bonnie Gottlieb

Marc and Bonnie Gottlieb

Last summer, Bonnie and Marc Gottlieb calculated their carbon footprint, measuring the impact on the earth's environment of such activities as driving their car, turning on their furnace and tossing out their trash. They discovered that they emitted about 56,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually into the atmosphere.

"That's on the low side of being good," Marc Gottlieb said, with the average American household weighing in at 54,600 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, according to the Empowerment Institute, a consulting and training organization specializing in effecting behavior change.

Still, there was not much more the Beverly Hills empty nesters could do to reduce their carbon dioxide output, which, for them, essentially consists of electricity usage for their 2,600-square-foot home, automobile use and air travel.

The couple, who were inspired to become more environmentally vigilant by the release of Al Gore's documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," and who are members of Temple Emanuel's Greening the Synagogue Committee, had already replaced their home's incandescent lightbulbs with energy saving CFLs, or compact fluorescent bulbs.

"We make a more concerted effort to turn things off, like lights and computers. And we try to run our errands together," Gottlieb said.

But beyond purchasing solar panels, which has been deferred because of the expense and long payback time, and purchasing hybrid cars, which the Gottliebs will consider when they're ready for new automobiles, there's not much else they can do. And air travel is likely to increase rather than decrease, as they'll be making frequent trips to Phoenix beginning in February, when their first grandchild is born.

Still, the Gottliebs believe they are way ahead of the curve in terms of environmental awareness.

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