Last year, the government's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
(ARRA) increased funding for low-income homeowners interested in weatherizing their homes. Around the same time, the Pittsburgh Foundation
received funding from the philanthropic consortium Living Cities
to help put entry-level workers on the path to "green-collar" careers.
Jane Downing, the Pittsburgh Foundation's Senior Program Officer for Economic and Community Development, saw an opportunity to create jobs local jobs in the business of weatherizing local homes. The Coordinated Weatherization Campaign was born. Since then, the program has created a steady trickle of jobs. And it has also had a broader economic and environmental impact.
"The Coordinated Weatherization Campaign has brought a number of stakeholders together (utility companies, weatherization providers, community-based organizations, local government, foundations, etc.) in order to move toward the common goal of reduced utility bills and energy consumption, as well as comfortable, healthier homes for low-income individuals in Southwestern Pennsylvania," says Lindsay Ruprecht, Sustainable Community Development Coordinator at ACTION-Housing, Inc.
, which is a major provider of low-income weatherization services in the region.
"The partnerships that have come about due to the CWC have assisted with the expansion and development of other efforts focused on environmental conservation and sustainability in the region," she says. Job creation remains a goal, but an added focus is engaging low-income communities in creating strategies for reducing energy consumption and furthering grassroots communication in neighborhoods.
Although the CWC is working effectively in areas where the conversation about energy conservation had not been going on, Ruprecht says "outreach is also being coordinated along with other conservation-based organizations or networks such as the East End's Urban Green Growth Collaborative (UGGC) and the Hilltop's social service-based Hilltop Alliance
"We are able to bring strength to the missions of energy efficiency, reduced bills and healthier, more comfortable homes by weaving all of these stakeholders and networks together. The way in which the CWC and UGGC have unified diverse interests has changed the way potential clients are learning about the program and becoming involved in both their own homes' weatherization and their neighborhoods' conservation efforts."Sign up
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Writer: Melissa Rayworth
Source: Lindsay Ruprecht, ACTION-Housing
Image by Josh Franzos courtesy of The Pittsburgh Foundation