When Better Buildings Program San Jose (BBPSJ) set out to encourage homeowners to install energy upgrades, the program joined forces with trusted community groups to accomplish its goals. Partnering with highly regarded community organizations enhanced the trustworthiness and visibility of the program and helped provide funding that reduced upgrade costs for homeowners.
To reduce program overhead costs, BBPSJ looked to local, well-known organizations that deliver important non-energy services in San Jose. Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church offered BBPSJ office space where staff could meet with homeowners, teach them more about the program, and schedule home energy assessments. The local Boys and Girls Clubhouse—a common location for residents to receive services such as child care and educational programming—offered BBPSJ space to hold its events.
To help low-income residents cover the cost of home energy evaluations and upgrades, BBPSJ staff created partnerships with organizations that were already offering free weatherization installations and energy efficiency upgrades and brought these services to San Jose residents. Pacific Gas and Electric's Moderate Income Direct Install program offers free home energy assessments and weatherization services to residents who qualify based on income. BBPSJ worked with Pacific Gas and Electric to allow all BBPSJ residents into the program. Pacific Gas and Electric's local contractor company, Quality Conservation Services, carries out the energy efficiency services.
As program staff visited homeowners that showed interest in BBPSJ's energy efficiency services, staff realized that many homeowners needed basic repair work done first in order to undertake an energy upgrade. As a result, BBPSJ partnered with the San Jose Department of Housing's Housing Rehab and Repair program, which offers grants for up to $6,500 to install energy efficiency measures and up to $15,000 to fix roof leaks, repair electrical and plumbing issues, and improve accessibility for people with disabilities. In addition, the program offers no-interest loans in the amount of $5,000 to $150,000 based on eligibility.
"Our partnerships were established based on opportunities for community engagement, the ability to offer essential services for developing self-sufficiency, and in order to provide customized and comprehensive energy reduction programs," says Adrianna Masuko of the City of San Jose's Environmental Services Department.
For energy efficiency programs seeking similar partnerships, BBPSJ suggests identifying groups that already offer essential services to the community and considering how your work could tie into their mission. By creating a collaborative network of service groups, you can strengthen the whole community.