June 28, 2018
Thanks to its proximity to Washington, D.C. and track record as the largest nonprofit weatherization service provider in Virginia, Community Housing Partners (CHP) Energy Solutions has hosted numerous site visits for government officials to learn more about weatherization. But in May, the nonprofit had a unique opportunity to show weatherization in action to a high-ranking government official from South America.
CHP hosted a weatherization site visit for Iván Kerr, Argentina’s Secretary of Housing, in Northern Virginia on May 30. Kerr, who served as the national undersecretary of urban development and housing and director of the Housing Institute of the City of Buenos Aires before accepting his current position, made the visit during a trip to Washington, D.C.
“We visited the home of an 84-year-old, disabled woman in Loudoun County who had been a weatherization client,” explained Mark Jackson, Vice President of Energy Solutions at CHP. “About eight members of our Energy Solutions team, including an energy auditor and a quality control inspector, showed Secretary Kerr and his wife what we do during a typical weatherization job, from the audit to what measures were installed on this home, and the different tools and protective gear we use to do our work.”
Field demonstrations give officials like Kerr an opportunity to see and feel weatherization first-hand and learn about the complexity of the work. Following the site visit, Kerr joined Jackson and Karen Turner, Chief Administrative Officer at CHP, and other state and federal officials for a dinner to discuss energy efficiency and housing programs in more detail. Among those in attendance were Nicolas Maggio, President of Weatherizers Without Borders (WWB); Willie Fobbs, Associate Director of Affordable Housing Production and Preservation at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development; and Cassandra Powers, Senior Program Director at the National Association of State Energy Officials.
“We had a very engaging conversation and talked about energy efficiency and housing programs in more detail,” Jackson said.
Jackson has spent years developing relationships with government officials and the nonprofit sector in South America to advocate for developing local and federal weatherization programs. In February, he visited three cities in Argentina and Chile on a Patagonia weatherization tour. During the trip, Jackson and his colleagues at WBB toured the future site of the first weatherization training center outside of the United States. They also met with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile, to discuss potential weatherization programs and traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to present at the G20 Energy Transitions Working Group Conference’s “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Forum.” (Read more about Jackson’s Patagonia weatherization tour earlier this year.)
During the February summit, Jackson connected with Sergio Bergman, Argentina’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, who accepted his invitation to visit the Energy Solutions Training and Research Center in Virginia in the coming year. As cabinet officials in President Mauricio Marci’s administration, both Kerr and Bergman are looking to secure funding for weatherization programs in the South American country.
While Kerr is one of the highest ranking foreign officials to visit CHP, he isn’t the first. In 2016, CHP hosted site visits for Gustavo Genusso, Mayor of Bariloche, Argentina, and Rossanna González, Director of Energy Efficiency in the Ministry of Industries, Energy, and Mining in Uruguay.