City Desk

CarbonfreeDC Greens Up City, Gets Founder’s Face on Sun Chips

Rhys Gerholdt decided it was time for a makeover. But he wasn't thinking about liposuction and face lifts. For the  CarbonfreeDC founder, it's all about low-flow shower heads and insulation blankets. The local nonprofit has bested the competition to win a $20,000 grant from National Geographic and SunChips. The project: to "green up" 20 homes in "one of the poorest neighborhoods in D.C."

The "Extreme Green Neighborhood Makeover" has two aims, Gerholdt says: to combat climate change and poverty by increasing energy efficiency.

The idea is to make practical renovations based on the needs of each home. That could mean buying "smart" power strips and new efficient light bulbs, or replacing old energy-guzzling appliances that push up energy bills. There are also plans afoot to offer workshops, teaching residents all about the joys of urban composting.

To ensure his modest budget – $1,000 per home – stretches as far as possible, Gerholdt is relying on a team of 50 volunteers and businesses willing to work pro bono.

So who are the lucky homeowners? The greenings are still up for grabs. CarbonfreeDC is narrowing down its target neighborhoods; so far, Capitol Heights, Congress Heights, and Deanwood have put themselves forward.

Gerholdt isn't a celebrity just yet, but he could give Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition fame a run for his money: He's slated to become a potato-chip pinup, with his face appearing on packets of Sun Chips (peppercorn ranch flavor) across the U.S.

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