Filed Under:  Environmental, Local, News

NOLaWise challenges neighborhoods to be more ‘green’ in 2013

26th December 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Kelly Parker
Contributing Writer

Looking for a New Year’s resolution? How about helping make your neighborhood greener and more energy efficient in 2013?

NOLaWise has an incentive for residents up for the test. Area homeowners are invited to compete in the 2013 Neighborhood Energy Challenge.

“We wanted the community to see energy efficiency and greening efforts as a collaborative effort,” NOLaWise Program Director Camille Lopez says. ”Something that could help the entire neighborhood (including individual families) become healthier and more sustainable.”

NOLaWise is an energy efficiency program available to New Orleans homeowners through a partnership between the Mayor’s office, the nonprofit organization Global Green USA, and the Department of Energy. NOLaWise provides homeowners with the tools they need to improve their homes’ comfort, affordability and efficiency.

New Orleanians are invited to start the New Year right by competing in its challenge, in which applicants will form neighborhood teams and compete to win $5,000 for a community greening project of their choice, courtesy of NOLaWise. The challenge winner will be the neighborhood with the most homes to have Home Performance Eva­luations (HPEs) completed, in the hopes of installing energy efficiency upgrades.

A (HPE) focuses on issue(s) specific to the comfort, durability, health/safety of your home. Examples include severe ice damming and water damage, cold floor, mold growth, opportunity to improve thermal boundary (insulation and air-sealing) during other house repairs, i.e. roof replacement, home improvement, etc.

In general, homeowners will gain understanding of the root causes and how the issue(s) impact other “house-as-a system” interactions. It includes a thorough inspection of area along with photo documentation.

Homeowners begin by having an HPE to see how their home could upgrade its energy performance. Homeowners then have the option of working with a NOLaWise-approved and -trained green building contractor to complete the energy efficiency work on their homes. NOLaWise accesses all available incentives to lower the cost of the project, provides access to low-interest loans and does the quality control on the work to ensure that it’s done right the first time. The neighborhood gets the benefit of becoming greener and more sustainable.

“After homeowners get a home energy assessment (which is offered at $35, a 65 percent discount), they receive recommendations on how to improve their home’s efficiency,” Lopez told The Louisiana Weekly. “If they choose to implement these upgrades (installing insulation, getting an AC tune-up, or sealing windows and doors, for example), they have the opportunity to reduce their energy usage by up to 30 percent.”

The organization is giving the community the power to voice their concerns and goals for what they believe are important greening projects for their neighborhoods.

“Some may have a community center that’s too expensive to cool or heat, so they may want insulation or a new HVAC system,” Lopez states. “Another neighborhood may own a vacant lot that they want to turn into a community garden. Or they may want to implement environmental education curricula at local after school programs. It’s up to them to tell us.”

Other states across the country have implemented similar challenges to stimulate energy savings and in the first six months of the competition alone, teams representing more than 3,200 buildings around the country have saved more than $37 million on utility bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by more than 16,000 homes every year, according to the EPA.

Camille Lopez stated the South­east region of the U.S. generally lags behind the rest of the nation in terms of energy efficiency, building codes and enforcement.

Applications and proposals for community greening projects should be submitted to mrow­and@globalgreen.org by Tues­day, January 15. Teams will be notified about final proposal acceptance by January 18th, and the collection of HPEs will occur between January 21 and March 31. Winners will be announced no later than April 15.

To learn more about NOLaWise’s services that are available to homeowners in New Orleans, call (504) 523-WISE (9473) or visit www.NOLaWise.org.

This article was originally published in the December 24, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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