NewsPublic AffairsEnvironment / February 19, 2014

Energy Upgrades Pay Off Extends Beyond Bills

Sam Klemet
Energy Upgrades Pay Off Extends Beyond Bills

A $10 million federal grant is helping 1,000 families and 43 businesses on the city’s east side become more energy efficient.

The funds also are helping change the community outlook.

"I've seen a cohesiveness in the neighborhood itself," said Barb Sweeney.  "People are pulling together and trying to do more.  There is an energy in the east side neighborhood that I think is really inspiring."

Sweeney is the Executive Director of Teachers' Treasures, a nonprofit that provides low cost school supplies to educators.

The federal grant helped her organization replace its lighting, which she says has attracted new business.

And, Better Building Program Manager Rachel Mattingly says these efficiency upgrades help businesses save money – about 15 percent on their energy bills – which then allows them to stay and invest in the area.

"For them it's going to mean a bigger difference just in being able to stay in the community, not having to relocate to somewhere where they are going to have a smaller building," said Mattingly.  "We are hoping to be able to see them just having that long term stability.  A lot of them are relatively new to the community and then be able to expand the number of employees or the types of services they offer."

The combined savings for the 43 businesses that received federal funding is about $73,000.

Sustainability Officer Director Melody Park says the money is being reinvested back in the community.

"When they are saving that dollar, they are going back and doing other initiatives," said Park.  "When they have an annual savings, they can budget that money to spend somewhere else, so we definitely see an improvement on that dollar savings going somewhere else, not just on the electric bills."