The NASCSP Landscape
That’s the National Association for State Community Services Programs, which held its annual training conference September 16-18 in Sacramento. NASCSP serves the DOE WAP program, as well as other low-income programs though training and advocacy in Washington, D.C.
I’ve been to several of these conferences over the 15 years I have worked at Home Energy. There are always changes, but this year I noticed a big change. A lot of the leadership that shepherded WAP through the ARRA period—which was often described as “trying to drink water from a fire hose,” because of the sudden infusion of money, new people, very high expectations, and scrutiny into the program—are now retired or moved on to other jobs. But the core of the conference remains.
DOE, through its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has the difficult task of bringing unity to the diverse states, contractors, and for profit and not for profit community action organizations that carry our DOE’s mission for low income Americans. Among other purposes, the NASCSP conference brings DOE staff together with state and local leaders so that everyone’s voice is taken into consideration when DOE and other government leaders make policy or otherwise influence the direction and day-to-day functioning of WAP. Funding goes up and funding goes down but this most important dialogue continues.
For me, the center of the conference was the presentation of the long-awaited results of the National Weatherization Evaluation, which thoroughly looked at all aspects of WAP and focused on the program years 2008, before ARRA, and 2010, in the midst of the ARRA ramp up. Last June, the University of Chicago published the results of the “E2e” study that were critical of the ARRA-period WAP efforts. The report did not take into full account the job creation, job training, and other economic stimulus of the program, or the health and safety benefits; and it focused on a small, non-representative group of weatherized homes. The National Evaluation painted a very different picture.
Bruce Tonn of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Jackie Berger of APPRISE gave the presentations. Among the many gems provided by the National Evaluations were these:
- Although the vast majority of the WAP workforce are mission driven and want to do right by their clients, the few who do the work of weatherization but do not respect the clients they serve wash out pretty quickly. Respect has to extend from D.C. to a family in far off Alaska and in every other state in order for WAP to function at its best. Now the data backs up something we all intuitively know.
- Weatherization Works, especially when you add monetized health and safety benefits to weatherization outcomes. These benefits include reduced emergency room visits for asthma, less work days lost, money spent on life saving medicines instead of high energy bills, and people who stay alive because they aren’t freezing in the winter.
- The four most effective weatherization measures for gas-heated homes, in order of effectiveness are:
- Furnace replacement (70–150 therms)
- Wall insulation (60–120 therms)
- Attic insulation (50–100 therms)
- Comprehensive air sealing (50–100 therms)
In the gas heat category, the agencies that did none of the four measures averaged about a 7% savings. Those who did all four averaged a 34% savings per home.
- Agencies that were most successful did this:
- Targeted high energy using homes
- Installed the most cost effective measures whenever appropriate
- Consistently applied best home performance practices
- Measured performance using utility bills
For more details of the evaluation and evaluation findings, go to http://weatherization.ornl.gov/evaluation_nr.shtml.
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