green|spaces on Wednesday announced the launch of Empower Chattanooga, a new strategy to improve quality of life and save energy - neighborhood by neighborhood.
Officials said Empower Chattanooga’s goal is to help residents and organizations in a community consider how energy use and affordability of utilities affect broader challenges. The first phase of the program will be implemented specifically 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.
“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.
He said, "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 nearly 30 local partners.
"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. Furthermore, every dollar saved in energy efficiency goes straight back into the neighborhood, improving economic opportunities.
Several 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 that is 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. While the energy prize is focused solely on energy use reduction city-wide, Empower will look to coordinate ongoing improvements in the target neighborhoods across a spectrum of quality of life issues including health, safety, connectivity, economic opportunity, in addition to energy because of the ways these challenges are often related. But energy improvements in every home, school, and municipal building in the city can help Chattanooga bring home the prize.
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. green|spaces is excited and honored to be leading the charge in this competition for Chattanooga.
"Empower is key to our mission of progressing the way we live, work and build in Chattanooga as we work towards regional sustainability and we cannot wait to get going,” said Walton.
City of Chattanooga
Kids on the Block
Consumer Credit Counseling
Trust for Public Land
Boys & Girls Club
Glass House Collective
Habitat for Humanity
Volunteers in Medicine