Authors: Kat Daniel | Program Manager, Communities of Practice Green For All recently convened the 2011 Working Group that will lead its Retrofit America's Cities Community of Practice. This year marked a distinct shift in the agenda from those of past years. With a strong presence of grantees and sub-grantees from the U.S. Department of Energy's BetterBuildings program and other members who have been working for the past several years in community-wide efficiency programs, the 2011 working group is very focused on tools for implementation. On the first day sessions focused on achieving High Road Outcomes and increasing the capacity of small and diverse contractors to perform energy efficiency upgrades. The conversation was very focused on business support services and innovations that can lower the barriers for small contractors to enter the energy efficiency sector. Working group members also discussed how to support and incentivize contractors to offer competitive wages and benefits to their employees. The working group started the second day with a workshop on inclusive finance programs that increase access to energy efficiency for low- and moderate-income homeowners. We spent most of the day discussing how to leverage existing community assets and neighborhood networks to spread information and generate demand for efficiency measures. The working group closed out the day with a discussion about strategies for better connecting newly trained workers to career pathways in efficiency.
In the form of replicable models, best practices, innovations, and tools for implementation, the sheer wealth of knowledge and unprecedented level of technical expertise about the efficiency sector that this working group brings to the table is contributing greatly to the growth of a clean energy economy.