New Energy Economy worked with local residents in the neighborhood of Hopewell to conduct energy assessments, weatherize homes, and implement practical retrofits. The purpose of the project was to lower energy costs, increase asset value and improve residents' quality of life. The local economy also benefited from enhanced job training, job creation, and productivity gains. The entire community was able to see and learn of the important benefits realized through improved energy efficiency and clean energy upgrades.
Hopewell: New Insulation
Hopewell, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Low-income families typically spend 16% of their income on home energy compared to 3.5% for other households, and by and large tend to inhabit the least energy efficient housing stock.
Home energy costs have increased much faster than incomes for very low-income households in recent years, rising 33 percent since 1998. Families eligible for federal home energy assistance spend a fifth of their income on home energy bills – six times more than the level other income groups spend. p 4 “The Increasing Burdens of Energy Costs on Low-Income Consumers,” American Gas Association (September 26, 2007).
Multi unit home: Energy savings in existing multifamily buildings of 25 percent to 40 percent may be gained through measures such as boiler upgrades, ceiling insulation, caulking, sealing, and storm windows, for roughly $2,500 per unit and pay back their costs in 5-10 years. p.13
Single family home: At the lower end of cost, a recent update of several studies on energy savings from weatherization found an average savings of roughly 30 percent were achievable for less than $3,000 per home. p.13
Federal investment of $5 billion a year over 10 years could achieve 25 percent to 40 percent energy savings in up to 25 million residential units, cut up to 50 million tons of CO2 emissions, and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs annually when fully implemented. p.14
Hopewell is a central neighborhood in Santa Fe and one of the few remaining areas where working people can afford to live. It is predominately made up of Hispanic families, some of whom have lived there for generations.
Immediate financial savings from energy conservation can mitigate household energy costs and help families stay in their homes. Making home energy more affordable also saves families from being forced to cut back on other necessary expenditures such as food and medicine. Local businesses will be employed to complete these retrofits, such as insulating roofs and replacing inefficient water heaters, thereby stimulating the economy. Our efforts will help raise authentic voices to powerfully advocate for clean energy solutions with decision-makers, regulators, and legislators.
Our goal is that these initial energy efficiency retrofits could lead to a program resembling projects like Clean Energy Works Portland. There they have partnered with the city and local stakeholders to create a financing program run through the utility company to make energy efficiency retrofits affordable. They have already completed 500 homes and created hundreds of good paying jobs that predominately benefit local businesses with fair labor practices and owned by people of color.
The Perez Family
The first Family Power Partnership that we completed was with the Perez family. They are an older couple who have lived in the community for 15 years, originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. Our organizers have established a close relationship with Elisa and Raul Perez. Raul has been facing many health issues, including prostate cancer, which has put additional financial burden on their household, as Elisa is the only one who can work now. Their medical bills have been stacking up.
Through the assessment, we identified that they were losing energy through depleted insulation in the roof. The insulation that Raul had installed years ago had an R value of 16, while homes in this climate should have at least R 36. It was time for some new insulation. The roof was re-insulated with Green Fibre insulation that is made of 85% recycled material. Since the roof was completed, Elisa has already commented that the house feels cooler during the summer months.