Going Green: Mayor Menino launches first phase of Renew Boston


June 24, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Strategy sets ambitious goal to reduce City’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40,000 metric tons annually and create 100 green-collar jobs

In the third of four major announcements this week to advance the City’s green agenda, Mayor Thomas M. Menino today launched the $200,000 Renew Boston Residential Energy Efficiency Pilot Program in partnership with Next Step Living, Inc., a new Boston-based company that specializes in residential energy efficiency services to lower energy costs for homeowners and green the environment. Joined by Jim Hunt, Chief of Environment and Energy Services for the City of Boston, and Geoff Chapin, CEO of Next Step Living, Mayor Menino congratulated Dorchester resident and homeowner Crystal Haynes for being the first person to take advantage of this innovative partnership.

As part of today’s announcement, the Mayor also unveiled the City’s Energy Efficiency Conservation Strategy, a plan that utilizes $6.5 million in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund the Renew Boston initiative. Boston was recently allocated this funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The plan sets an ambitious goal of reducing the City’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40,000 metric tons annually while stimulating the local green economy by creating 100 high-quality green-collar jobs.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for homeowners in Boston to lower their energy costs and help green our city, and today we’re taking a big step toward achieving our goals” Mayor Menino said. “A sustainable city starts with sustainable homes, and this innovative partnership will increase environmental awareness in our neighborhoods and give people a break on their energy bills. I’m proud to partner with Next Step Living as we launch the first phase of Renew Boston. Eventually we’ll reach out to all residents and businesses to improve the environment and boost our local economy by creating green jobs.”

With an initial $200,000 in funding, the pilot program will provide more than 150 Boston homes with free professional energy efficiency audits and immediate retrofits from Next Step Living to make the homes more efficient based on the audit’s findings.

Geoff Chapin expressed that, “Next Step Living is honored to be a part of the Renew Boston effort, a pioneer program that will provide the residents of Boston with customized, comprehensive energy efficiency services which will lower their energy bills each month. We commend Mayor Menino for taking the initiative to invest in energy efficiency and making the vision of a prosperous and equitable green economy a reality. Together we look forward to helping families save money in tough economic times, creating local green careers, reducing carbon emissions and childhood asthma rates, enhancing energy security and raising the value of homes. Next Step Living is committed to working with cities like Boston to revitalize their economy and stay ahead of energy reduction goals.”

The Renew Boston Residential Energy Efficiency Pilot will serve residents between 60-120 percent of the median income. The pilot program will coordinate closely with the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development and Action for Boston Community Development’s (ABCD) existing residential weatherization programs to reach residents between 0-60 percent of the median income. Next Step Living will initially provide more than 150 Boston homes with its comprehensive weatherization services. 20 percent of the homes served will receive a more substantial investment of up to $2,000 for energy efficiency improvements.

In one combined three hour visit a team of two experts will conduct an audit utilizing infrared cameras and blower door technology to detect air leakage from attics, basements, and other drafts and also implement multiple energy efficiency upgrades. Each visit combines the in-depth energy audits with specific efficiency improvements based on audit findings. Homeowners will receive a detailed report of how their home compares to others, savings likely to result from the upgrades as well as further measures that they can take to improve energy efficiency. Upgrades resulting from these audits often save homeowners more than $300 per year.

The $200,000 pilot program, scheduled to be completed within five months, is funded by the Empowerment Zone Green Job Creation Project, a partnership between Boston Connects, Inc. and Next Step Living to provide residential energy savings and create green jobs within the Empowerment Zone. Excellerate Energy, LLC also contributed matching funding for the program. Mass Energy Consumer Alliance will administer the funds and identify pilot customers within the eligible income range.

In unveiling the City’s Energy Efficiency Conservation Strategy, Mayor Menino outlined a nine-part plan to utilize $6.5 million in federal funding to jumpstart Renew Boston. The strategy focuses on providing Boston’s residents and small businesses with financial resources to make their homes and workplaces more energy efficient while also reducing energy costs. Residential funding priorities include energy efficiency retrofits for existing homes, an energy efficiency program to improve multi-family buildings, a solar pilot program, and community based outreach to promote available resources. The plan also calls for a dedicated small business energy efficiency program as well as investments to create energy savings at the municipal level. The strategy will stretch federal funding by leveraging existing utility programs and by accessing private-sector financial resources.

Officially announced by Mayor Menino in March, Renew Boston will create an innovative one-stop shop to coordinate the provision of energy efficiency and alternative energy services for all Boston residents and businesses while also expanding the Mayor’s green collar workforce initiative.

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