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Meet the experts

The Star-Telegram used the advice of these nine experts to devise and help with the Green Challenge.

John Allen

An energy-efficiency expert for Reliant Energy, Allen is a master at tracking down exactly what’s devouring the most energy in a household, whether it’s a poorly insulated attic or an outdated appliance. As an efficiency auditor, Allen helps investigate customer concerns about high electricity bills. He toured the Price and Ledesma homes and suggested changes large and small, from thicker insulation to cleaner air filters.

Jon Bennett

Bennett is the senior manager of community relations at TXU Energy. He has worked with TXU for 21 years and has a master’s degree in management from the University of Central Texas,Ö now Tarleton State University-Central Texas, in Killeen. He visited the Davis and Gault homes, suggesting ways they could make their houses — from windows to appliances — operate more efficiently.

Steve Chaney

Chaney is the Tarrant County extension agent for home horticulture and coordinator of the county’s Master Gardener program. Before moving here in 2004, he was horticulture extension agent for Wichita County in North Texas.

Chaney has a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture and a master’s degree in agricultural education from Oklahoma State University; he owned and operated a design/build firm in Oklahoma for more than a decade.

During the Green Challenge, he met with the Ledesma and Gault families, offering them lessons in composting and advice about water-conscious landscaping.

Lori De La Cruz

De La Cruz is the principal and owner of Blue Marble Media in Euless, a consulting firm that develops environmental and educational programs for local governments, businesses and nonprofits.

She has a long history of developing award-winning environmental education programs, as a public-education and recycling coordinator for the city of Fort Worth and as the communications/marketing manager for the city of Euless. In 2006, her “Compost-ology” program earned Euless the City Livability Award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

De La Cruz met with Amber and Jonathan Price, suggesting ways they could make greener choices and lifestyle changes.

Robert Jackson

An expert on climate change and the environment at Duke University, Jackson is a respected — and outspoken — proponent of the need to take action to address global warming. Jackson holds the Nicholas Chair of Global Environmental Change and is a professor in the biology department and Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. He has had more than 100 peer-reviewed articles published. Last year, he wrote a children’s book titled Animal Mischief designed to teach youngsters about nature.

Kathy Keller-Mielke

Keller-Mielke has made a career of teaching the public about recycling and waste management. From 2006 until earlier this month, she was the public-education specialist for the city of Fort Worth’s environmental management department. She came to Fort Worth from Erie, Pa., where she was the recycling coordinator for Erie County.

Keller-Mielke now a community-services education specialist for the city of Allen.Alyson may find out a few more details Monday morning and want to insert them.-sa

Gary Olp

A Dallas architect, Olp has been designing innovative, energy-efficient houses for several decades. He designed the so-called Heather’s House in Parker County, a near-zero-energy house that has been profiled by the Star-Telegram and NBC Nightly News. Completed in 2006, the 2,038-square-foot house is the first in the state — and third in the nation — to be issued a platinum rating by the U.S. Green Building Council, certifying it as among the most environmentally friendly houses in the country. Olp is also an outspoken proponent of green living.

Jim Sargent

A pioneer in the now chic “green building” movement, the Waxahachie builder in 2004 constructed the famous 3,800-square-foot “Zero Energy Home” in Frisco, the first of its kind in Texas. Sargent’s company, AndersonSargent Custom Builder, was named 2006 Builder of the Year at the National Association of Home Builders’ Energy Value Housing Awards. He heads the Green Built North Texas program, which helps outline green building practices for builders. He’s a frequent speaker and advocate for green living.

Michael Vandenbergh

An environmental-law professor at Vanderbilt University, Vandenbergh was chief of staff of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1993-95, under former President Clinton. He has been at Vanderbilt since 2001. His research there focuses on how laws, the economy and societal pressures influence the way corporations and individuals approach environmental issues. He is set this fall to publish the results of a study that suggests that one-third of all U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions are the result of individual lifestyle choices.