Residential Energy Efficiency Outreach
Increasing the energy efficiency of existing homes is a key strategy for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and mitigating climate change. Massachusetts has some of the oldest homes in the country, and, despite frequently being ranked the number one state in the U.S. in energy efficiency programs, plenty of leaky, inefficient homes still remain. Municipalities throughout the MAPC region and beyond are playing an increasingly important role in building awareness of energy efficiency opportunities and expanding access to programs that can help their residents save money and energy in their homes. Across New England, outreach campaigns like HeatSmart Mass, Weatherize Upper Valley, and Weatherization Weeks have helped communities increase the uptake of energy efficiency and expand access to energy efficiency for thousands of residents.
In response to interest from municipalities in the region, MAPC and the Cambridge Energy Alliance released a request for information (RFI) to gather responses from home performance contractors (HPCs) and others interested in partnering with communities on outreach campaigns to build awareness about the Mass Save program and boost participation in energy efficiency programs. Three respondents – All In Energy, HomeWorks Energy, and New England Energy Efficiency Company (NEEECO) – provided information about their experience supporting local energy efficiency outreach efforts and expressed interest in collaborating with municipalities and community organizations to co-create outreach campaigns.
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Ways to Engage
There are numerous ways to support residential energy efficiency outreach as a municipality:
Targeted outreach to underserved groups
Multiple communities have developed outreach campaigns that focus on expanding access to underserved groups like renters, low- and moderate-income residents, and families with limited English proficiency. These campaigns may be led by local nonprofit organizations, community groups, municipal staff, or volunteer committees.
- In 2019, the Cambridge Energy Alliance partnered with the nonprofit All In Energy to organize an outreach campaign to reach renters and residents with limited English proficiency.
Communities can form informal partnerships with home performance contractors by inviting them to community events and helping them connect with community organizations. This approach can avoid a potentially lengthy and often complicated procurement processes because it is inclusive and open to any interested contractor.
- Local nonprofit groups, such as Mass Energize and Green Newton, have formed partnerships with home performance contractors to help promote home energy upgrades through the Mass Save program. These partnerships did not formally involve municipal government.
A municipality seeking a formal, exclusive partnership with an HPC should conduct a competitive procurement process, likely through a Chapter 30B Request for Proposals (RFP) if the value of the procurement is greater than $50,000. While this step may be advantageous for communities looking to simplify the process of selecting a contractor for its residents and to accelerate the adoption of energy efficiency, keep in mind that it also adds complexity.
Cambridge partners with All in Energy to reach renters and underserved residents
In Cambridge, renters’ median incomes are about half those of homeowners and they spend twice as much of their income on housing costs. In an effort to expand access to energy efficiency and associated cost-savings to renters and other underserved residents, the City of Cambridge's Cambridge Energy Alliance partnered with All In Energy, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to clean energy. All in Energy hired a multilingual outreach team, including canvassers and event staff, to engage renters directly and through community organizations. All In Energy collaborated with Neeeco, a Mass Save certified home performance contractor, to hire a multilingual Rental Property Energy Advisor to perform no-cost home energy assessments for renters. This position was designed as a stepping stone into the full role of Energy Advisor to help diversify the industry and overcome language barriers beyond All In Energy's work.
Reference to this project is not an endorsement of any of the vendors involved.
Communities can also join together to conduct a collective procurement process, sharing the burden of vendor selection and increasing the impact of the effort across multiple communities. Collective municipal procurements can achieve administrative efficiencies and volume rate discounts. Regional cooperation provides municipalities with an approach that ensures compliance with procurement laws and often appeals to a greater number of potential bidders. If you are interested in learning more about participating a in collective procurement for residential energy efficiency outreach with support from MAPC, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communities are advised that they should seek the advice and assistance of their municipal procurement officials and legal counsel.
The following municipalities have administered recent procurement processes for residential energy efficiency outreach: