DExecuting the Plan
1.Likely partners for this initiative include nonprofit organizations with an environmental and/or green building focus, for-profit businesses with home renovation expertise, and utility companies and contractors. General volunteer management organizations may also be great partners to help recruit volunteers.
2.Mayor’s office hosts an initial planning meeting with its partners in order to:
- Develop goals regarding breadth and depth of reach (i.e., number of homes, total energy impact per home);
- Establish criteria for prioritizing potential households (e.g., income level, age of homes, whether the homes have been damaged) and/or special
- Assign roles to various partners to ensure successful implementation of the initiative; and
- Design the scope of work for volunteers.
Conduct Outreach And Identifying Homes For Renovation
Once households within the targeted areas have been identified as candidates for this initiative, the mayor’s office or its partners will need to design and execute a communication strategy to recruit beneficiaries (e.g., door-to-door canvassing, newspaper ads). If a homeowner expresses interest in participating, a partner staff member should meet with him or her and assess the dwelling to ensure that the home is appropriate for the program.
For example, does the house look to be structurally sound? Does the house have pre-existing structural damage that might reduce the effectiveness of the energy efficient improvements (e.g., a hole in the roof)? Is there any indication of mold/asbestos that could endanger volunteers? The homeowner should also be willing to share current and future energy and water bills so that the energy saving metrics for this initiative can be tracked. These bills may also be accessed through the local utility provider if waived for viewing by the homeowner. Once initial required documents (i.e., safety waiver, energy bills) are submitted, the partner staff member will schedule a date for a home energy audit.
Assessing And Retrofitting Homes
1.Determine the activities that volunteers will do versus those that will be completed by staff from partner organizations (with partner staff assuming roles that require specific skills or training). For example, a potential
allocation of activities could be:
- Door-to-door canvassing to gauge homeowner interest: volunteers
- Initial meeting/safety screening: partner staff
- Energy audit: partner staff or volunteers who have completed an extensive training program (often offered at community colleges, power providers, or other institutions) . But, there are times when it might be necessary to divide the coating between two days.
- Training of volunteers: partner staff or volunteers who have received training
- Home renovations: volunteers under guidance of partner staff
2.Train volunteers in accordance with the activities they’ll conduct.
- Renovations: Prior to deploying volunteers to conduct renovations, the volunteers must receive training on safety procedures, an overview of the tasks included in their scope of work, advice on appropriate attire, instructions on how to interface with the homeowner, and how to use any necessary equipment
- Energy audits: If volunteers will help with audits, partners should arrange for them to complete a training program at an accredited institution, although it’s not necessary for volunteers to conduct energy audits in addition to doing renovations. Many community colleges and energy power providers offer trainings that will enable volunteers to gain the fundamental knowledge needed to: evaluate how energy is being used and where and how energy consumption can be reduced in a building.
3.Determine and provide all equipment and supplies needed. This can include:
- Renovation supplies: energy efficient light bulbs, caulking, air filters, sink faucet aerators, attic insulation, dual-flush toilet levers, insulated water heaterblankets, insulators for hot water pipes, adjustable thermostats, tape and mastic for HVAC ducts, carbon monoxide detectors, fire detectors
- Safety supplies: glasses, gloves, masks, attic suits
- Volunteer/participant supplies: bottled water, lunch, snacks, event/sponsorship t-shirts
4.Dispatch a staff member from a partner organization, or a trained volunteer, to perform energy audits of screened households. The audits will note the home’s age and square footage, and evaluate the condition of the home’s walls, insulation, and internal and external doors and windows. The staff member or volunteer will also conduct a “blower door test” to identify where air may be entering the home – thus revealing leaks, holes, and gaps in need of repair (this is important because unidentified leaks in doors and windows, as well as thin insulation, make it difficult to maintain a home’s internal temperature and contribute to increased energy bills). Based on the results of the audit, the staff member or volunteer will schedule a date for the retrofit and develop a list of renovations for volunteers to complete.
5.Volunteers arrive on the date of the scheduled retrofit and receive an overview from staff members on the work they will be doing. They also receive a refresher on safety procedures and sign a safety waiver from the lead partner organization. Volunteers then perform the renovations under the guidance of a partner staff member.
6.Upon completion of the renovations, volunteers review all work that was completed with the homeowner.
Funding Sustainable Home Makeover
Sustainable Home Makeover is a compelling fundraising opportunity for mayors’ offices to solicit support from utility companies, foundations, and corporations with a commitment to conservation. Private support may be supplemented with state and federal government grants geared toward energy efficiency programs. If seeking philanthropic or governmental grant funding, the mayor’s office or nonprofit partners may choose to develop a short proposal that describes the opportunity for support and how the funds would be used. Elements would likely include:
- Description of the Sustainable Home Makeover initiative
- How this initiative would positively impact the city and the environment (e.g., potential reductions in: energy demand, electricity costs, greenhouse emissions, and smog)
- City’s impact targets for the initiative and the metrics that would be collected to track progress
- Amount of funding requested, proposed breakdown of grants and how funds would be used
- Information on Cities of Service (this is especially helpful for national organizations)
- Recognition plan for the donor (e.g., logo on volunteer t-shirts, branding on the city’s service website)
In some cases, private funders may not want to provide funding directly to city governments. If those instances, the mayor’s office should identify and appropriate nonprofit partner to receive the funds and coordinate disbursements.
Recognizing And Thanking Volunteers
There are numerous ways to recognize volunteer participants who contribute to making Sustainable Home Makeover a success in your city. Consider sending volunteers a thank you card or letter with the details from the day a volunteer participated in a home makeover (e.g., list of upgrades performed and reduction in home energy costs). Before and after pictures of homes and a summary of overall energy savings from the initiative may also be included. Additional quarterly or semiannual progress reports are also encouraged and help volunteers understand how their efforts contributed to the initiative’s overall success.