There has been a lot of movement in Seattle this year regarding funding for energy efficiency projects. A brief look on seattle.gov reveals a tangle of initiatives, including CPW, EECBG, WEB, and others. This blog post is an attempt to unscramble these acronyms and paint a clearer picture of what exactly these initiatives are and what they promise for local developments in the industry.
The nitty gritty:
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) was passed as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. This grant set aside $2.7 billion for energy efficiency and conservation projects, with the first year's funding going towards strategic development and subsequent years to be used for city and county projects approved by the Department of Energy (DoE). Another $454 million has been set aside for competitive grants. Cities and counties are slated to get approximately $1.8 billion of this, and states around $770 million. In April 2010 Seattle accepted a $20 million grant from the EECBG BetterBuildings grant to establish the Community Power Works (CPW) Initiative to Power Change. To add to the confusion, the CPW Initiative is replacing Seattle's Weatherize Every Building (WEB) Initiative, while the previously established Retrofit Ramp-Up Grant from DoE is now simply called BetterBuildings. On top of all this, on July 26th the Seattle City Council voted to adopt the Community High Road Agreement for residential buildings retrofitted as part of the CPW Initiative.
Whew! That's a lot of initiative...
So, what are we left with here? All of this really boils down to Community Power Works, with the Community High Road Agreement being the guiding document for the work to be done through CPW. Seattle Mayor McGinn on his blog explains that the CPW Initiative "will lead to the creation of thousands of high-quality, family supporting jobs for qualified, historically underrepresented contractors and workers in the clean energy economy." The focus will be on deep energy efficiency measures in central and southeast Seattle.
Briefly, the CPW Initiative aims to:
Retrofit residential, commercial, hospital, and municipal building in the Central District and parts of Southeast Seattle.
Achieve between 15% and 45% energy saving per building retrofitted.
Reduce approximately 70,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases.
Create up to 2000 new living wage green jobs.
Leverage grant funds 7-to-1 with local investment.
The Community High Road Agreement makes it explicit that in practice the initiative is to be kept simple and predictable, “especially for Contractors”. It seems that the hope here is to minimize the bureaucracy that tends to slow down contracting work when dealing with federal and state funds. The Agreement also discusses at length contractor standards for work done through the CPW Initiative. This includes:
A contractor pool – A group of contractors prequalified to perform work for the Initiative, with entry into this pool based on meeting a set of minimum standards. These include; being licensed/bonded, no recent violation of Workplace Laws, meet hiring standards, BPI certification for key staff, etc.
Base pay rate – Entry-level workers who are graduates of “Qualified Training Programs” must receive $15.50 per hour, plus $2.50 per hour in benefits or additional wages, on top of 80 hours of classroom training during the first year of employment. “Specialized” workers must receive a wage as specified in Washington State prevailing wage laws. “General weatherization work”, as defined in the agreement (see below for full definition), are subject to the base pay.
A point system to determine entry into the contractor pool – Businesses that meet certain standards will get additional points in the application process. Including, for example, small and/or local businesses, minority/women/veteran-owned businesses, non-profits, businesses providing health benefits for workers, and those with a demonstrated track record of quality retrofit experience.
At this point its not clear what these retrofits projects will look like on the ground or how it will be decided which buildings and residences will be the recipients of the work. To date the City of Seattle has yet to spend any of the $20 million CPW Initiative money, but we can expect that there will be action on this soon as DoE funding requires regular updates and reporting on the progress of funded projects.
Stay tuned to the Sound Home Performance blog for more information on these initiatives and more!
-Scott Cooper, Home Efficiency Specialist
Geographic coverage of CPW Initiative (via https://www.seattle.gov/environment/CPW.htm)
General weatherization work (as defined by the Seattle High Road Agreement) - Minor repairs, batt insulation, blown insulation, window and door repair, weather stripping, solar film insulation, air sealing, caulking, minor or incidental structural repairs, duct sealing, air sealing, installation of light bulbs, and installation of smoke detectors.
Seattle High Road Agreement
Press Release on High Road Agreement
Summary of Progress on CPW and EECBG Grants
Seattle.gov CPW homepage
DoE EECBG Summary
High Road Agreement analysis from Green For All
Community Power Works - Mayor McGinn's Blog