The Neighborhood emPOWERment Program will develop a practicable model which will ultimately be adopted as an integral energy savings program of Austin Energy and the City of Austin. Prior to adoption, the program will successfully complete upgrades within one select low-income neighborhood in Austin. At least 50% of households will volunteer to participate in the program and will receive at least three (3) energy efficiency upgrades. Before beginning the upgrades and again after the improvements are complete, residents will be asked to monitor their energy consumption for three months. This data will be used to form a baseline reduction rate for energy consumption. In addition to the upgrades, the CACCC will also distribute educational information about climate change and steps to reduce energy consumption to at least 200 people in the targeted neighborhoods
The CACCC, led initially by the LBJ School of Public Affairs Sustainability Working Group at the University of Texas at Austin, will assemble other university groups, government entities and community organizations to cooperatively implement the Neighborhood emPOWERment Program. By August 2009, a formal body of committed organizations will be established to execute the pilot program. Through the latter part of 2009, CACCC will formulate a process for program implementation. During this planning phase, the group will consult with Austin Energy and the Green Building Program, and the City of Austin Climate Protection Plan to ensure that the pilot program meets the requirements and needs of the utility company. Green Builders, Inc., Austin Community Design and Development Center, Habitat for Humanity, and American Youthworks Casa Verde Builders will be consulted to provide technical assistance and professional services. The CACCC will also partner with the City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development department and the Austin Neighborhood Council to identify neighborhoods where the majority of residents are low-income. By January 2010, the CACCC will have developed a budget, identified a target neighborhood and collected contact information for residents, created an application for participation, and established a timeline for implementation of the pilot program. Beginning in January 2010, donations of materials for weatherization upgrades will be solicited from local and national chain hardware stores. Simultaneously, the group will seek funding through grants and donations from other public and private entities for execution of the project. Recruitment of neighbors to participate in the program will begin in April 2010. Information about the program will be sent out to residents through the Austin Neighborhood Council listserv and individual neighborhood association newsletters. Prior to this, the CACCC will work with the University of Texas Volunteer and Service Learning Center, LBJ School of Public Affairs Grindstone Volunteer Organization, and United Way to recruit volunteers to help with outreach to neighborhood residents, weatherization installation, and information dissemination. In June 2010, energy evaluations of participating households will begin. The commencement of upgrade services will coincide with the United Way Day of Service in September. Monthly workdays will be arranged to continue necessary installation work and to offer volunteers and residents an opportunity to connect. Announcements about these workdays will be listed in local publications. Installations will continue through March 2011. In July 2011, data on energy use before and after upgrades will be collected from residents. A final report analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the program will be delivered to Austin Energy in September 2011.