Teens In Green Canvas For Energy Efficiency

Melissa Bailey Photo A team in green will be once again be canvassing New Haven streets this summer, hoping to improve the city’s energy efficiency.

Stephanie Addenbrooke Photo The team, members of the Youth Conservation Corps program, now in its second year, will take high school and college students around the city, introducing neighbors to the benefits of energy efficiency.

Outside of City Hall on Wednesday, the group of students, all dressed in green, spoke with neighbors about the Home Solutions Program from Energize Connecticut, where professionals visit apartments, homes and business to advise the occupant on how to improve their energy efficiency. The service is offered at a low-cost, with eligible residents receiving it for free. (Click here to read about last year’s canvas.)

Elizabeth Murphy, representing two of the program’s partners, United Illuminated and Southern Connecticut Gas, said residents who opt for the consultation would receive a energy checkup for their entire residence. It would include air sealing, water-saving measures, energy-efficient light bulbs, rebates and additional energy efficiency recommendations.

The service, which officially launched two weeks ago, has already seen 50 people sign up, equivalent to last year’s numbers. But the program’s organizers believe they can do more. The catchment areas in New Haven they are targeting, those where most of the residents would be eligible for the free service, have a total between 10,000 and 20,000 residents. Murphy said the consultations can ultimately lead to huge savings on a customer’s bill.

James Baker-Howard, director of Youth Conservation Corps, said successful expansion of the program would not just help to reduce energy costs across the city; it would also set an example for other cities across the state.

“This initiative is exceptional for New Haven,” Baker-Howard said.

The program also aligns with Mayor Toni Harp’s campaigns to see citywide reductions in energy consumption. Last year, when the program was launched, Harp said that she hoped to see a 20 percent decrease by the 2018 fiscal year.

Baker-Howard works with the young people involved to introduce them to the importance of energy efficiency. Murphy, who was responsible for training the students involved in the project, described them as highly motivated and enthusiastic students, passionate about making a difference in New Haven.

Allison Hellman just graduated from Hopkins High School and will begin the University of Michigan in the fall.  She is a supervisor this year after canvassing last year with the program. She explained that the program is a great way for students to learn more about energy efficiency, but also get out into neighborhoods and speak with people about the services the partner companies offer. All of the students, except Herman who is from Woodbridge, are from the local New Haven area.

The high school students won’t just be advertising free consultations. They will also promote a financial assistance program offered by UI for low-income neighborhoods and Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which helps to bring internet and computing services to homes in the area. The organization also works with the city Health Department, which provides further assistance plans.

John Bairos, manager of government and community relations at Comcast, also provided the organization with something beyond the partnership. Comcast gave the project $5000 to help with canvassing and training, all in the hope of being able to make energy usage a more cost-efficient conversation in New Haven.

Baker-Howard said he hopes Wednesday’s event at City Hall introduced residents to the services that are available, and that his team in green will able to spread the message even further.

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posted by: New Haven Nuisance on July 15, 2015  2:36pm

Hear, hear! It is great to see the growth and sustainability of this important effort as our city grows sustainably!