There are programs throughout the country that provide much of the same information as Retrofit Baltimore– details about financial incentives, recommendations of quality contractors, etc.—but none function like this one. Not only does Retrofit Baltimore do all of that for the residents of Baltimore, but it also stresses the significance of this work on the future green economy and how we, as a city, can benefit from it. While we have heard countless times over the past few years about the importance of job creation, this program is empowering homeowners to take concrete actions that combat the systemic cycle of poverty and improve the environment.
There are numerous benefits of our work, many of which can be felt by homeowners in the form of comfort or financial savings. However, energy efficiency is also a vehicle by which we are able to create lasting jobs and help those in our city break through the barrier of poverty. Simply put, the two go hand in hand. While it would be possible to just be an information resource, there is so much that the city needs and it would be a great injustice to have one component without the other. Never has there been a time when both energy efficiency and economic empowerment have been more on our national consciousness, and it is only right to help residents through one channel or another to address these issues.
Every day at the office, I see energy retrofit installer students who are excited to learn the trade, and I truly admire their persistence and enthusiasm. The job training process is by no means easy. Not many of us are willing to venture into a crawl space in a rowhouse at the height of the summer, and that’s one thing that keeps me in awe of their resolve. It has been a great treat for me to be on the front end of this system working to help homeowners improve their energy efficiency, while creating jobs for underserved residents.
With that said, I will be leaving Retrofit Baltimore in order to pursue a degree in city planning, and it is my sincere hope to spread the word about our model so that other cities can see the same impact that we have in Baltimore. We have found that it works, so it is only logical to implement this elsewhere (or rather, everywhere). City planning and Retrofit Baltimore have much in common—both strive to create healthier and greener places for everyone to enjoy so that generations from now, our children will be able to do the same. If we continue with this momentum that we have helped to build, the dream of a green and equitable future will no doubt become a reality.