Better Buildings Neighborhood Program

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From 2010 to 2013, SEEA was one of 41 organizations in the United States that participated in the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, a program housed within the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

The goal of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program (BBPN) was to help 41 competitively selected state and local governments develop sustainable programs to upgrade the energy efficiency of more than 100,000 buildings nationwide. These communities, including the 13 programs that SEEA managed in the Southeast, used innovation and investment in energy efficiency to expand their building improvement industry, test program delivery business models and create new jobs.

Over the course of this three-year program, SEEA received $20.2M from DOE to distribute to a consortium of southeastern community programs. The SEEA Consortium members, many of whom named their programs for the “WISE” brand which stands for “Worthwhile Investments Save Energy”), included the following communities:

AlabamaWISE
BirminghamWISE
CarrboroWISE
Chapel Hill WISE
CharlestonWISE
DecaturWISE
HuntsvilleWISE
NOLA WISE (New Orleans, LA)

Cafe2 (Roanoke and Blacksburg, VA)
LEAP (Charlottesville, VA)
NEW Nashville Energy Works
Next Step (Hampton Roads, VA)
Power2Charlotte
RREA (Richmond, VA)
SHINE (Atlanta, GA)

From 2010 to 2013, the SEEA Consortium achieved tremendous progress in advancing energy efficiency throughout the Southeast region. More than 10,200 building audits were completed and these resulted in the completion of over 6,200 energy efficiency building retrofits. Overall, the SEEA Consortium ranked 6th nationwide for the number of retrofits completed, a considerable achievement for the southeast region which substantially lags the rest of the country in adopting energy efficiency measures.

In 2014, SEEA completed two reports on the progress and results achieved by its Consortium. The first report, titled Energy Pro3: Progress, Productivity and Prosperity in the Southeast, provides a detailed review of the lessons learned through these programs, as well as case studies of several program successes. The second report, titled Energy Pro3: The Economic Impact of Energy Efficiency Investments in the Southeast, presents the economic impact of these programs, which found DOE’s $20.2M investment in energy efficiency in the Southeast generated economic output in the region of $78.3M.

In simpler terms, this means that from 2010 to 2013, every $1M of investment in energy efficiency made through the BBNP program generated $3.87M in economic output – a more than three-fold increase. For the detailed economic analysis, please refer to SEEA’s Energy Pro3 Initiative to access these reports and more.

Finally, one of BBPN’s long-term objectives was to see energy efficiency momentum maintained once government funding ended. To date, both the AlabamaWISE and LEAP programs continue to play important roles in their communities, delivering energy efficiency benefits to homeowners and businesses. In addition, new retrofit financing programs are in development throughout the region, ensuring the future availability of affordable energy efficiency financing.