Getting Greener, Home by Home
- Created: Sunday, 05 June 2011 05:00
Greenfield is one of only two communities in the State to receive a 3 year Climate Showcase Community Grant of $160,900, funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). This grant will help renters, landlords, and homeowners locate and apply for federal, state, and utility money to do energy upgrades to their homes or to their one-to-four family apartment dwellings.
This collaborative grant, co-written by the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee (GGEC) and the Town of Greenfield, will support an ambitious outreach and education program that will include door-to-door canvassing, the compiling and integration of information from various sources to provide “one-stop-shopping”, workshops, mailings, and other efforts to help people learn about and obtain the many sources of free money for home energy improvements.
The one-stop-shopping will help Greenfield residents learn what programs they may be eligible for, including grants of $2,000-$5,000 per apartment, zero percent interest loans up to $15,000, and, in some areas of Greenfield, rehabilitation loans of up to $35,000 per building. Since the applicability and criteria of these programs vary, providing residents with clear, integrated, and user-friendly information will help them determine what works for them and how to apply. The resulting increased energy efficiency has the added advantage of economic benefits for renters, landlords, and other residents in the community, by keeping money in our pockets, creating jobs improving our health, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions as a way of rolling back global warming.
“We are determined to bring the community of Greenfield to an energy awareness level not achieved by many. With the motivation of local government, a cadre of citizen volunteers and a broadly accepted quest for opportunity, together we will find the means to do so. This EPA Showcase Grant is another step in the right direction”, says Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin.
The Town has hired a Project Coordinator, and the project will include canvassing, starting this summer by young people. These part-time employees will receive training in how to do door-to-door campaigns and in the various money-saving programs that are available to renters, landlords, and homeowners to do the home energy improvements. This training will also strengthen the communication, leadership, and job skills of the canvassers as they visit various dwellings.
“This grant will enable us to reach renters, who are hardest hit by high home heating costs, and who often do not hear about grant opportunities that could cut their utility bills and make their homes more comfortable”, says Pam Kelly, co-author of the grant, and members of the GGEC. We will start in downtown Greenfield, where over 74% of the people rent their homes, and then fan out from there. We will be working closely with many programs, including utilities, Community Action’s Weatherization program, and Greenfield’s Rehab program, volunteer benefits Counselors from the Franklin County Home Care, Energy Coaches from Coop Power, and many others”.
Nancy Hazard, another GGEC member and grant co-author adds that “the grant will help us take another giant step towards the Town’s 2050 goals to reduce climate change emissions by 80% and keep money spent on energy in our region. It will (also) support the efforts of (our) volunteers, and the hundreds of people who have already signed up for the Greenfield 10% Challenge,” pledging to reduce their energy use.
The grant will be administered by the Town’s Department of Planning and Development, working with a diverse advisory group that includes Greening Greenfield Energy Committee, Franklin County Home Care Corporation, Community Action, Co-op Power, the Franklin County Technical School, Franklin Hampshire Employment Board, Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO), Berkshire Gas, and Sandri Companies.
The grant adds to Greenfield’s recognitions and awards for going green. The Town has been designated as a “Green Community”, has received Governor Patrick’s Leading by Example Award, and was chosen by the Barr Foundation for a pilot project to receive technical assistance to help residents and businesses reduce energy use from their buildings, has received numerous grants to cut municipal building energy use, and has committed over $200,000 to help landlords and homeowners through the Greenfield building rehabilitation program.