October 25, 2017
“The visit definitely reenergized me and reminded me why we do what we do.” “The CHP team was impressive, and it was a pleasure to join you for the day.” “Thank you for the great hands-on experience, on the ground insights, and your openness to welcome us at your organization.”
Mark Jackson, Vice President for Energy Solutions at Community Housing Partners (CHP), found these messages in his inbox after hosting officials from the U.S. Department of Energy and other agencies this fall. The Energy Solutions weatherization crew provided field demonstrations in the Winchester, Virginia area on Sept. 28 and Oct. 12. (View a Facebook photo gallery from the site visit.)
“The site visits gave us an opportunity to bring our stakeholders out into the field to see and feel weatherization first-hand,” Jackson said. “They made a visit to a mobile home in the area and then toured and had lunch at the Energy Solutions Weatherization warehouse in Winchester. They also had a chance to see the level of complexity that happens with the weatherization program.”
U.S. Department of Energy personnel attended both site demonstrations in the Winchester area. The Sept. 28 visit included representatives from Community Action Partnership and the National Association for State Community Services Programs, while the Oct. 12 event included officials from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Energy Solutions also hosted a similar visit for Department of Energy officials in Fairfax, Virginia earlier this summer.
Bill Orthwein, Technology Manager at the Department of Energy, explained that CHP staff “provided us a great learning experience, no doubt, on what actually needs to get done with the goal of making residential homes more energy efficient while ensuring the health and safety of the clients.”
The Department of Energy oversees the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides funding to state agencies so that low-income families can make their homes more energy efficient and reduce their energy bills. These state agencies then fund community action groups, local governments, and nonprofits like CHP to weatherize homes for low-income families. Although participants in the recent site visits understand the administration of the Weatherization Assistance Program, they do not often see the program in action or interact with the clients it serves.
CHP identified a client in Stephenson, Virginia who agreed to have her mobile home be a part of the demonstration and tour. During the Sept. 28 site visit, Energy Solutions team members found multiple water leaks while performing their weatherization work. This had to be corrected before completing the job and proved to be a teachable moment for the visitors from Washington, D.C.
“When you are weatherizing a home, it is important to understand other possible funding sources that can be leveraged together, such as the crisis program, emergency home repair, and utility programs, in order to find solutions for the residents,” Jackson said. “Our weatherization team must understand the full set of resources available to homeowners and property managers.”
CHP, which is the 12th largest nonprofit offering weatherization services in the country with Department of Energy federal funds, serves low-income families, especially households with elderly residents, individuals with disabilities, and families with children. Households typically must meet income qualifications and be in Virginia.