Better Buildings Neighborhood Program Partners Upgrade 100,000 Buildings, Save Homeowners and Businesses $730 Million on Energy Bills
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week that, through the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, more than 40 state and local governments have supported thousands of professionals upgrading more than 100,000 homes and other buildings through its Better Buildings Neighborhood Program. These upgrades will save families and businesses more than $730 million in estimated lifetime energy savings on utility bills. What’s more, everything program partners learned about program design, marketing and outreach, financing, workforce development, and more is being compiled into an easy-to-use online resource to help other residential energy efficiency programs in the future.
Supported by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, DOE’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program worked with 41 competitively selected state and local governments and their partners to leverage federal funds to launch or expand sustainable, community-based energy efficiency programs. At least 30 programs of the original 40 are continuing without federal support, including programs in Oregon, Maine, Michigan, Virginia, and Florida.
“In the United States, residential and commercial buildings account for about 40 percent of all energy use,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said. “Upgrading the energy efficiency of our homes and other buildings will save families and businesses money on utility bills and reduce pollution in our communities, moving the nation closer to our clean energy future.”
Over the last four years, Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners have worked closely with contractors, utilities, nonprofits, and financial institutions. Programs reported that more than 1,400 home improvement contractors completed upgrades for homeowners, and partners trained more than 5,000 home performance professionals.
Through these efforts, the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program supported more than $740 million in direct invoices to local workers for energy assessments and upgrades they performed over the course of the program. From engaging contractors early to discovering the benefits of contractor sales training, partners’ experiences have also provided key lessons for effectively running an energy efficiency program at the state and local levels. For example:
- The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance in Ohio implemented an equipment lease program providing contractors affordable access to the tools necessary to expand their services into home performance.
- In Portland, Oregon, Clean Energy Works Oregon (CEWO) actively engaged contractors through regular meetings and encouraged their energy upgrades sales potential by providing free business support services.
- Efficiency Maine found sales training to be pivotal to contractor success, increasing the program’s assessment-to-upgrade ratio by 50% in six months.
- NeighborWorks of Western Vermont created the LaborWorks@NeighborWorks program to help its contractors manage the influx of customers looking to improve their comfort in the winter months.
- In Pennsylvania, the Fayette County Better Buildings Initiative worked with a local nonprofit in order to train the workforce necessary to reach new customers with energy upgrades.
More of these examples, lessons, and resources are being used to populate the new Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center. This online resource will help energy efficiency program teams and their partners plan, implement, market, and evaluate residential energy upgrade programs. The tool is in the final stages of external peer review and testing; email us if you would like to start exploring its use now or to sign up for a webcast demonstration. To receive an announcement when the Solution Center is released and stay connected, subscribe to the Better Buildings Network View newsletter.
Now that the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program has completed its initial grant efforts, DOE has launched the Better Buildings Residential Network to support continued public-private partnerships on residential energy efficiency. Currently comprised of more than 70 organizations, including Home Energy magazine, Residential Network members gain access to technical assistance and peer-sharing opportunities with a wide range of stakeholders who share best practices on home energy efficiency program strategies. Membership is open to all organizations interested in expanding the market for residential energy efficiency, including contractors, financial institutions, nonprofits, state and local governments, and utilities.
Danielle Sass Byrnett is the supervisor of the Better Buildings Residential programs, which work with residential energy efficiency programs and their partners to improve homeowners' lives, the economy, and the environment by increasing the number of high-performing, energy-efficient existing homes in the United States. Learn more about Better Buildings Residential.
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