Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 23, 2015

green|spaces launches Empower Chattanooga

green|spaces this week announced the launch of Empower Chattanooga, a new strategy to save energy. The first phase of this program will be implemented in Highland Park, East Chattanooga, and East Lake, which were selected with the help of partner organizations analyzing a range of metrics including energy use.

Empower’s goal is to help residents and organizations in a community consider how energy use and affordability of utilities affect broader challenges in their neighborhood. In many households, the money saved on utilities will ease tight budgets for families that currently are forced to make tradeoffs between healthy food, home payments, utilities, and health care.

“green|spaces is excited to see Empower in action, and we have no doubt that it will have a positive impact not only on the three initial target communities, but on Chattanooga as a whole,” said Michael Walton, executive director of green|spaces.

Homeowners may be willing and eager to make changes to their homes to improve energy efficiency, but just don’t know where or how to start, or where to get the money to do it. Empower will help connect residents with energy efficiency and other quality life programs that they may not know existed from a range of local partners including EPB, the City of Chattanooga, UTC, United Way, CNE, and 29 other organizations. Furthermore, every dollar saved in energy efficiency goes straight back into the neighborhood, improving economic opportunities.

“We want to help create safe and affordable environments and improve lives, making for happier and healthier families,” said Walton. “And to top it off, families will have a little more money left over to spend on other necessities.”

Empower will look different depending on the neighborhood. Advisory groups made up of residents and leaders in each neighborhood will help plan and shape how best to address the challenges they see. Empower will hold small neighborhood-based community outreach fairs, educational programming, as well as assist in helping residents register and connect with existing programs in Chattanooga. Additionally, education will be provided to landlords, contractors, Realtors, and financial institutions, along with ongoing community wide education on simple ways to reduce energy consumption.

Partnering organizations will also look for ways to include energy efficiency in the work they are already doing. For example, EPB is partnering to support Empower with a Home Energy Upgrade pilot on approximately 10 homes in Avondale. The Lyndhurst Foundation, Benwood Foundation, and Footprint Foundations have also partnered with green|spaces and EPB to support both Empower Chattanooga and EPB’s Home Energy Upgrade pilot.

The plan has already helped Chattanooga make it to the semi-finals of the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a multi-million dollar competition challenging small- to medium-size communities to work with their local governments, residents, utilities, and others to achieve innovative, replicable, scalable, and continual reductions in the consumption of gas and electricity.

The competition will take place over the next two years, with finalists being announced in 2017. If Chattanooga brings home the prize, the funds will go toward supporting and expanding the most successful neighborhood-based programs that improve economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Source: green|spaces