Published: Nov 24, 2010 02:00 AM
Modified: Nov 23, 2010 12:30 AM
Residents who applied to the city's Neighborhood Energy Retrofit Program will soon begin saving money on their utility bills, the first of 700 homes the city hopes to make at least 20 percent more energy efficient over the next year.
Jada Atwater, who lives in Colonial Village, is one of the first people to have her home upgraded. The city is sealing air leaks in heating and air conditioning ductwork, installing programmable thermostats, and sealing air leaks in the attic and crawlspace. Insulation will also be added to her attic in the next few weeks.
"I am really excited because I'm going to be able to save money and reduce my environmental footprint," Atwater said.
The Neighborhood Energy Retrofit Program also relies on volunteers to recruit and educate residents in the participating neighborhoods. Atwater helped recruit her Colonial Village neighbors to participate in the program.
"That's the best part," she said. "The retrofits fit right in with the spirit of our community."
More than 375 applications from 17 different neighborhoods have been received so far, Tobin Freid, manager of the Durham City-County Sustainability Office, said in a news release.
The office is assessing all of the applications and has qualified 29 homes so far. The goal is to install retrofits in almost 700 homes in the coming year," Freid said.
"Once we have those 700 homes completed, the program will ultimately result in a reduction of more than 2,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year, making a significant impact on Durham's environment," Fried said.
In addition to the retrofits, residents will participate in workshops on do-it-yourself energy efficiency projects, as well as receive information about additional grants, rebates, and tax credits available to pay for more upgrades. "This program is designed to get neighbors talking to each other about energy efficiency and helping one another to reduce energy use even after the grant money is gone," Freid said.Conservation culture
According to Freid, the program is focused on the neighborhood level to create a culture of energy conservation among neighbors and to make it easier for the retrofit contractors to work quickly.
Neighborhoods participating in the program thus far include Colonial Village, Duke Park, East Durham, Fisher Heights, Frenchman's Creek, Hillside Park, Lakewood, Lochaven Hills, Morehead Hill, Newhall Village, Northgate Park, Parkwood, Spring Valley, Trinity Park, Tuscaloosa Lakewood, Watts Hillandale, and West End.
Applications are still being accepted for homes that meet the program criteria in the targeted neighborhoods identified above. To be eligible, the homes must be single-story, 2,000 square feet or less, and be free of unvented combustion appliances. Such appliances include some gas hot water heaters, stoves, or furnaces that could leak carbon dioxide back into the home.
According to Freid, the city's Neighborhood Energy Retrofit Program is designed to help Durham reduce its emissions by 30 percent from residences, businesses, and institutions by 2030 as required in the 2007 Durham City-County Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan.
The program is funded by two federal grants : the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (City grant award), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Communities Showcase grant (City-County grant award). Clean Energy Durham, a local non-profit, is managing the neighborhood outreach efforts on behalf of the city.
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