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Greensboro, North Carolina

BetterBuildings Greensboro Program

Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
Seed Funding: $5 million
Target Building Types: Residential (single and multifamily) and commercial

Greensboro, North Carolina, Builds Flexibility Into Program to Spur Upgrades

Nestled between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains to the west, and the North Carolina beaches and Outer Banks to the east, Greensboro was one of the most important cities in the South's textile industry at the beginning of the 20th century. The migration of the textile industry to other parts of the world, however, has prompted Greensboro to redefine itself as an emerging leader in the clean energy field.

Program Design: Program Design Allows for Tiered Upgrades
Workforce Development: Certified Workers Make Small to Major Improvements
Financing: Grants, Discounts, and Gift Certificates
Evaluation: Making Sure to Measure Savings

Program Design Allows for Tiered Upgrades

By leveraging $5 million in seed funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, the BetterBuildings Greensboro Program is using a neighborhood-based approach to promote energy efficiency in the community. The program is working to promote home energy upgrades, job creation, economic development, neighborhood empowerment, consumer education, and ongoing monitoring. Greensboro has adopted flexible financial strategies—including grants, rebates, and loans—to attract owners of various income levels and property types. The project will promote optional levels for energy upgrades based on consumer need and financing ability.

To meet its goals, the BetterBuildings Greensboro Program is making the program widely available to all city residents. Anyone who wants to participate receives an introductory package that includes compact fluorescent light bulbs, a programmable thermostat, and water-efficient showerheads to help start them down the path to energy efficiency. Participants interested in making additional upgrades can then access financial incentives based on their income level.

Certified Workers Make Small to Major Improvements

Depending on what their energy improvement needs are, residents can opt for a variety of upgrades, from sealing up drafty windows and doors to installing energy-efficient appliances, all the way up to replacing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The BetterBuildings Greensboro Program will connect interested residents with contractors certified through the Building Performance Institute to ensure that qualified professionals complete the energy efficiency upgrades and can help homeowners achieve Home Performance with ENERGY STAR as appropriate.

Grants, Discounts, and Gift Certificates

spacer-200.pngSome level of financial incentive is available to all participants, on a first come, first served basis. Residents who earn up to 250% of the federal poverty level (about $55,000 for a family of four) can receive a grant of up to $2,000 to perform energy upgrades at their homes. There were approximately 1,000 grants available at the time the program launched.

Residents earning more than that amount can qualify for other rebates or incentives. About 1,100 households are eligible to receive a rebate for a portion of the cost of a home energy assessment. Other incentives include a $425 rebate from Duke Energy for the first 100 applicants that do not qualify for the grant, as well as gift certificates for energy-efficient appliances. The program also connects residents with private lenders for loans to cover the costs of larger energy efficiency upgrades.

Making Sure to Measure Savings

One of BetterBuildings Greensboro Program's key goals is realizing 15% energy savings for each upgraded home. To track whether their homes are meeting this goal, participants agree to provide the city access to their utility bill information to measure energy consumption over time. The city also reserves the right to ask program participants to help verify the quality of upgrade work completed in a residence.


Barbara Harris

U.S. Department of Energy
Better Buildings Neighborhood Program