Image via Olearys from Flickr Creative Commons
Image via Olearys from Flickr Creative Commons

“Improving America’s existing buildings, resulting in lower energy bills and a more livable planet, is imminently doable,” the Department of Energy touted.

This conclusion has been drawn from the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program (BBNP)—a $500 million stimulus program implemented from 2010 to 2013 that supported energy efficiency upgrades for nearly 120,000 homes and buildings throughout the nation.

As a result, the program made $878 million worth of energy upgrades and saved $850 million on energy costs. In addition, BBNP also created over 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs and generated more than $120 million in tax revenues.  
The Department of Energy released a report which gives suggestions on future comprehensive efficiency programs. Here are some findings:

  • Skilled and engaged contractors are vital to success - programs should develop a large pool of eligible contractors by providing more training, and should support these contractors as the primary salesforce for the program.
  • Have at least one highly experienced staff person involved in the local initiative.
  • Offer incentives of up to 25 percent of the total cost of the building upgrades, and offer financing as part of any energy upgrade.
  • For marketing purposes, programs and contractors should target specific populations for upgrades, but without closing out others who may be interested.
  • Work through well-selected, local community-based organizations to reach their target markets.
  • Work with building owners who want to stage their upgrades over time, and provide quality assurance that upgrades meet their efficiency objectives.

To know more about this BBNP program, read on Switchboard, the staff blog of Natural Resources Defense Council.