The Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund (SSCF) is investing $1.5 million in six Southeastern communities with the City of Chattanooga receiving $300,000 to implement energy efficiency projects in local neighborhoods.
In partnership with EPB and green|spaces, the city was selected from a pool of applicants across the South.
“We will be focusing these funds in four Chattanooga neighborhoods ? Highland Park, East Lake, East Chattanooga, and Alton Park, where green|spaces and EPB have been doing terrific work for years, while taking steps to increase access to City-managed HOME grants like providing applications in Spanish,” said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. “This commitment from the Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund will allow residents in these areas to save up to 20 percent per month on their household energy costs.”
The grant funds awarded to Chattanooga will cover work in 2018 and 2019, assisting with streamlining programs and processes to make current energy efficiency programs more accessible to those in need. Additionally, new programs from green|spaces like Build it Green (B.I.G.) will begin in January. Modeled on the SEEED program in Knoxville, B.I.G. will recruit youth from neighborhoods with high energy consumption rates and teach them basic energy efficiency and construction skills through classes as well as show them how to make simple upgrades to homes in their communities.
The 12-week program also teaches soft skills like community building, money management and career preparation. Participants will receive $10 per hour and be connected with possible employment and higher education opportunities.
Following the success of EPB’s Home Energy Upgrade (HEU) pilot, the utility will again join forces with community members on the potential expansion of this program. EPB will be working with green spaces, Erlanger, the city, and others on a feasibility study for Green and Healthy Homes, a health outcomes based funding mechanism. This organization’s mission intersects well with EPB’s finding that 84% of homes helped by HEU experienced significant health benefits. EPB will also be working on expanding energy efficiency outreach and supporting workforce development and education initiatives being funded by this grant.
“This grant is truly an example of how working together works, of how leveraging resources as a community brings more resources to the community,” said Elizabeth Hammitt, EPB’s director of Environmental Stewardship & Community.
The SSCF, which selected Chattanooga for the grant, is a partnership between The Kendeda Fund and the Southeast Sustainability Directors Network (SSDN).
“I am impressed by the breadth of communities interested in the program goals, as well as the range of local approaches to equitably address climate change,” said Dennis Creech, Fund Advisor at The Kendeda Fund.