Claremont’s Home Challenge: A community campaign
by Tom Erb
CHERP—then “Claremont” now “Community” Home Energy Retrofit Project—launched with the goal of retrofitting one percent of the homes in our city, or around 130 houses. Energy retrofits make homes more energy efficient, more comfortable and healthier.
The project has facilitated more than 400 home energy retrofits, launched the Claremont Energy Challenge and is expanding its reach statewide. In an effort to scale home upgrades to an unprecedented level, CHERP—in coalition with the city of Claremont, Sustainable Claremont, Build It Green, the Claremont Chamber of Commerce, Claremont Unified School District, the Claremont Colleges, the Interfaith Sustainability Council, the League of Women Voters, EcoCiv and dozens of other local and community groups—is launching the South Claremont 50 Home Challenge.
The goal of the challenge is to enlist 50 homes in South Claremont by November 1. Home upgrades have been taking place one by one in Claremont but not nearly at the rate necessary to meet state emissions goals and to maximize energy savings. At the same time, the state is pouring money into energy rebates and cash incentives, but these opportunities are not reaching homeowners.
To address these communication gaps, CHERP will focus on community organizing. By partnering with the city, local non-profits, contractors, residents, realtors and colleges, they are building a coalition of trusted citizens. The group will canvass the city, implement a marketing campaign and host events to inform the community about the benefits of home upgrades.
CHERP hopes this coalition will give residents the confidence to consider the many benefits of upgrading their homes.
Claremont City Councilman and south Claremont resident Sam Pedroza said, “The Claremont 50 Home Challenge is an opportunity to improve the health and comfort of our residents’ homes at an unprecedented scale. This also sends a message that Claremont is serious about meeting our climate goals while improving our local economy through jobs, increased property values, and reduced utility bills.”
CHERP has created a steering committee of more than 30 Claremont residents to oversee the challenge. The group will host weekly meetings and launch a “Block Champion” program. They hope to find a resident on every south Claremont block to introduce neighbors to the benefits of energy efficiency, while encouraging them to sign up for a free home energy evaluation.
Throughout the fall, CHERP will host weekly Saturday “pop-up lemonade stands” to answer questions and act as a headquarters for community canvassers. They hope to make it as fun and inclusive as possible with refreshments, face painting, music and more.
After a transparent, committee-based, contractor vetting process, CHERP will partner with Home Performance Matters to offer free home energy evaluations for Claremont residents and to carry out the upgrade work. After the evaluation, an in-home consultation will be scheduled to review the results of the assessment report and the available rebates. These evaluations determine the least expensive ways to increase the health, comfort and efficiency of homes.
The state also offers free upgrades for qualifying households through the Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP). For example, a family of two in Claremont with a combined income of less than $57,700 or a family of four with a combined income of less than $72,100, could qualify for free rooftop solar, window replacement, HVAC, LED lighting, insulation and many other improvements (qualifying renters can also participate).
Opportunities for other households include up to $6,500 in utility rebates (expires September 22), interest-free financing and more. All homes in south Claremont below First Street are eligible for the LIWP program. There are only 50 slots available and residents must sign up by November 1, so homeowners are encouraged to sign-up for the challenge soon to receive free energy evaluations.
As always, CHERP is designing this initiative to be replicable across the state. In addition to Claremont, 50 Home Challenges are launching in the city of Woodland in Yolo County and in Solvang in Santa Barbara County. This fall, students and community members in blue CHERP shirts will walk south Claremont neighborhoods to talk with residents about the challenge. Make sure to sign up for a free evaluation, attend a neighborhood meeting and start spreading the word.
For a free evaluation or to join the team, contact CHERP’s Project Manager and Pomona College student Tom Erb at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign-up forms can be filled out at cherp.net/50form. For information on the Claremont 50 Home Challenge, visit claremontenergychallenge.net/50homechallenge. For information on the low-income program and qualifications, visit betterhomeliwp.org.
Demystifying Sustainability” is a project of Sustainable Claremont (sustainableclaremont.org). Follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/sustainableclaremont) and on Twitter@GreenClaremont