Written by: Kaori Tsukada, Program Associate
Energy efficiency sometimes takes a backseat to more eye-catching sources of energy like solar PV or wind turbines and water efficiency is not even a blip on the radar in most discussions. But the truth is, when it comes to saving money and creating local jobs, energy and water efficiency are workhorses.
For residents of affordable multifamily housing who stand to benefit the most however, energy and water efficiency measures remain out of reach. The problem: Affordable housing faces challenges to financing the upfront cost of these improvements, even though they will achieve savings over time. Even if a building owner can come up with the funding for improvements, its difficult for them to gather the expertise necessary to manage the new equipment so that it continues to perform and even more difficult to engage residents around the new efficient systems in their building and how to operate it so as to maximize savings.
Green For All is working to eliminate these hurdles through an innovative program called MPower.
Last week, Green For All brought together leaders from the affordable housing, finance, and energy efficiency sectors for a national working group convening in Oakland, CA. The goal was to explore strategies for expanding MPower and increasing access to energy and water efficiency for multi-family and affordable housing around the country.
Green for All staff Jeremy Hays and Kat Daniel facilitated a lively discussion as the group explored and worked through challenges and identified opportunities for partnerships between aligned organizations.
An MPower demonstration project is already underway in Portland, Oregon, applying innovations and incentives to tackle the unique challenges in the affordable housing sector. In order to deliver high-quality energy and water efficiency outcomes, the program needs a skilled workforce. The program aims to create high-quality employment opportunities for local residents, with a focus on hiring those who are most vulnerable in this tough economy, including veterans, women, and people of color.
At the Oakland convening, the working group committed to partner with Green for All over the next year to help reduce barriers to efficiency upgrades within affordable multifamily housing and to expand MPower to other cities and states.