Earth Week celebration kicks off program that will create jobs, save energy
SEATTLE—The City of Seattle will celebrate the kickoff of the Community Power Works for Home program Tuesday, April 19 at the home of a Genesee Park couple who are early participants in the program. Mayor Mike McGinn chose Earth Week to launch Community Power Works for Home, a neighborhood program that will create good, green jobs and help Seattle residents make energy-saving improvements to their homes.
“This program will ensure that where the city invests public dollars in energy conservation, we are creating career pathways and producing high quality work that saves residents energy and follows our value of shared prosperity,” Mayor McGinn said.
Community Power Works for Home plans to upgrade 2,000 homes in its service area over the next two years. The project serves the central and southeast neighborhoods of Seattle, areas which have historically been underserved by energy efficiency programs. It will give residents of those neighborhoods an affordable way to make their homes more comfortable and healthy while making energy-efficient upgrades to their homes.
“Our leaky old houses waste so much energy, it’s like having a window open 24 hours a day, every day of the year,” says contractor Jason Lear, of Batt + Lear, a Seattle green design/build company. “We find our customers like having a home that is far less drafty. They had no idea how much more comfortable they could be in their home, in winter and in summer. And what so many people don't know is that when you improve the energy savings of a home, you inevitably improve the comfort, the durability and the health of the home, too. ”
Community Power Works for Home is part of a $20 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant awarded through the Department of Energy's BetterBuildings program. Over a two-year period, Community Power Works is leveraging these federal dollars to produce an additional $25 million in economic activity in the region from state funding, utility rebates, and homeowner investments in their homes. All of this investment will put a charge into a local green industry to preserve and create hundreds of living-wage jobs, help homeowners save energy, and reduce the City's carbon footprint.
“I applaud Mayor McGinn and the many community and business partners in Community Power Works for Home,” said Congressman Jim McDermott. “This innovative program will create jobs, save energy, and improve the health and affordability of our homes; this is exactly what Congress had in mind with BetterBuildings funding through the Department of Energy.”
Dana Zimmerman and Allison Henrich will host the house party, attended by the Mayor, city council members, U.S. Representative Jay Inslee, and Gil Sperling, senior policy advisor, U.S. Department of Energy.
“Allison and I are thrilled to be a part of such a fun and important event,” Zimmerman said. “We signed up for the Community Power Works program because we wanted to work with a knowledgeable and objective partner who could help us start-to-finish with a complete plan for making energy upgrades to our home.”
Zimmerman and Henrich had a deeply discounted home energy assessment done through the program. Their home’s Energy Performance Score is 34,000 kilowatt hours per year—slightly above average—and 8.3 tons of carbon per year, which is about average. To bring these numbers down by at least 15 percent, they are planning to seal air leaks in the attic, add insulation, and upgrade their electrical system and water heating.
Community Power Works for Home has built strong partnerships. Partners in the program include public, private, nonprofit, community and labor institutions that together created a set of sustainable contracting standards and community benefits. This Community High Road Agreement ensures that employment, training and business opportunities stay in the community, and that the program will create and retain career jobs for area residents while saving energy. A local non-profit lender will provide affordable financing for energy upgrades, and a pool of qualified contractors will pay family wages to do the work.
Participation in Community Power Works is easy. Residents of the program service area can simply contact an Energy Expert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.449.1170. They can also start the process themselves by visiting www.communitypowerworks.org. Community Power Works will provide:
· A deeply discounted home energy assessment. Usually $400, the program provides the assessment for just $95.
· Certified contractors to do the work.
· Rebates and incentives to bring down the cost of the upgrade by up to $3,000.
· Affordable loans with easy terms to qualify. Payments are simply added to the resident’s Seattle City Light bill.
· Energy Experts to help every step of the way and make sure the job is done right.
Everyone is invited to a community celebration of Community Power Works for Home at South Shore School on May 3, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. The celebration will feature food, children’s activities, and information on affordable ways to increase the energy efficiency of people’s homes.
Seattle already is considered a national leader in programs to boost residential energy efficiency and new jobs in the green industry. Community Power Works for Home promises to serve as a model for others around the state and nation.