Last fall, Philadelphia's Weatherization Assistance Program received nearly $30 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The City is deploying funds through the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation and the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA). During the first year of Greenworks, the funding supported weatherization of over 550 Philadelphia homes. Eligible low-income homeowners received an energy-use audit, an air leak test, and upgrades to make their homes tighter and more energy-efficient.
The City also sponsored a neighborhood competition to reduce energy demand. The RetroFIT Philly "Coolest Block" contest was a first-of-its-kind, public-private partnership among the City of Philadelphia, ECA, and The Dow Chemical Company. Seventy-four blocks entered the contest to win cool roofs, air sealing, and insulation upgrades. To enter, each homeowner on a block had to participate, a requirement that encouraged neighbor-to-neighbor outreach and discussion about energy usage among community members. Given the enthusiastic response from residents, the City is looking for funds to hold additional contests.
Over the summer, each resident on the winning block will receive a whole-home energy audit and installation of energy-saving materials. The project organizers will track reductions in energy demand. "We are planning to work with the utility companies to know what kind of savings the homes get," said Catherine Hunt, Ph.D., Director of External Science and Technology at Dow Chemical Company. "Data will help people see that this really does work. This competition has the potential to be a model in other cities nationwide and even worldwide," Hunt adds. "If we can set the standard here in Philadelphia—that is truly exciting."
Listen to Roger Clark, Manager for Technology and Policy in the Energy Group, and Rob Sanders, Managing Director of Energy Finance at The Reinvestment Fund, on the Greenworks Loan Fund and how creative financing can help transform the energy efficiency market in Philadelphia.