Jane is the co-founder and current director of the Nordic Folkecenter, a showcase for passive house buildings, LED light projects, solar cooking, electric transportation solutions, domestic waste water treatment and recycling, and many other things.
Illustration : Jane Kruse
Nominated by: Lise Nielson, Nordic Energy Research
Jane has worked at Nordic Folkecenter since its inception in 1983. She has been the director for the last 6 years, since her husband and co-founder Preben Maegaard got ill and then sadly passed away last year.
As daily leader and headmaster Jane performs very varied duties. She has been responsible for the green transition of daily life at the Folkecenter. Any day during the year the Folkecenter is the home for 6-12-25 people, some live there permanently, some are trainees or exchange students for periods of 2-6 months, and some are visitors for week-long courses. All of them are subject to the greener living style. The Folkecenter is a showcase for passive house buildings, LED light projects in African off-grid living, solar cooking, electric transportation solutions, domestic waste water treatment and recycling, hydroponics and aquaponics, indoor food growing, and many other projects on a daily life basis. The people who live at or visit Folkecenter get to experience first hand how energy efficiency is not that hard – it is a question of choosing technological focus and then fit to daily life routines. And it is not that hard, but seeing is believing. Jane is the storyteller for visitors. She gives the tours and adds all the hard facts, performance data, costs, seasonal limitations for solar cooking in the Nordics, she invites the visitors to ask detailed questions and then think if they could go home and do the same. Jane is the inspiration for many private citizens as well as business owners to start their own green change. For Jane, energy efficiency is forever young and in style.
It is under Jane’s leadership that Nordic Folkecenter has navigated the financial crisis years, and today is a well managed institution with 5000 visitors annually.
Through the years Jane has helped shape Nordisk Folkecenter as a Living Lab. And Jane has been the daily operator for all guests, students and visitors. On the grounds today, visitors can experience several types of passive houses: external retrofitted building skins (think a glass encasing of the old house); passive solar heated straw bale house; modern one-family passive house with no need for heating or cooling; a conference building with several types of passive and active solar energy solutions for heating, cooling and ventilation; a tiny house in 100% sustainable materials; an Africa house with LED lighting to allow the experience of an off-grid life. The Folkecenter is a Living Lab for greener living, passive energy solutions, active energy solutions, waste management and sharing of resources. It is not a commune, it’s a showcase and a work place with the option to spend a few nights and try the quality of life with less energy consumtion – with the awareness of the energy consumption.
Jane has put her background as a school teacher to good use. She uses her personal style to invite people to see how a green transition life can be lived, with little loss of comfort. Jane has initiated teaching lessons on a daily basis for the trainees, and also offers learning experiences for visitors to find their own path towards green. Jane has shown that energy efficiency is a path of patience and of building resilience into daily life. This lesson could not be given at a more opportune time.
Jane Kruse has been a constant in the Danish green transition and energy efficiency landscape for 40+ years. She is a daily inspiration to all students and visitors of the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy, and she has proven that such a living lab can be operated on a long term basis, continously adding more challenges to improve the lifestye and the technical options for a low carbon footprint life.