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An Open Letter to Neighborhood Leaders

If you’re familiar with Retrofit Baltimore, you know that we work in many neighborhoods in the Baltimore area to distribute objective, trusted information about home energy efficiency as well as the temporary financial incentives that are provided through the state for having energy retrofits performed. The benefits to homeowners are numerous: reduced energy usage and reduction in utility expenses by 20%-40%, greater home comfort, healthier indoor air quality, increased home value and a smaller carbon footprint.

Right now, because of the EmPower Maryland Act, the cost of taking a few simple steps towards upgrading the energy efficiency of your is reduced by up to 50% for a typical home, and 80% just to take the first step of having your home examined by a certified building analyst.

Primarily, we have worked to distribute information through door-to-door canvassing, community events and neighborhood presentations. In March, we took a new approach when the neighborhood association in Patterson Park committed to ambitious goals for improving their neighborhoods energy efficiency through home retrofits. The head of the association, Leigh Peterson, first invited us to do a presentation at the neighborhood meeting where we introduced the energy retrofit process and received a lot of enthusiasm about beginning a larger movement in their neighborhood.

After the initial meeting, Leigh and other homeowners began to spread the word to their neighbors. They circulated flyers through list serves and emails, posted information on Facebook and Twitter, and spent hours calling neighbors to encourage them to learn more about the retrofit process and to take steps to improve their home energy efficiency. It only took a month to get 16 homeowners to commit to having home energy assessments and retrofits.

The enthusiasm and success in Patterson Park has led to the launch of Retrofit Baltimore’s Green Neighborhood Challenge. By partnering with neighborhood leaders, Retrofit Baltimore will work to distribute information about the energy retrofit process through neighborhood association presentations, social media posts, newsletter articles, list serves and old-fashioned word of mouth. Community leaders and elected officials will announce the launch of the event and at the end of the challenge, recognize the neighborhood with the greatest participation (adjusted for neighborhood size) as the “Greenest Neighborhood in Baltimore.”

Patterson Park, Federal Hill and Reservoir Hill have committed to participating in the GNC and are already starting to organize their neighborhoods, but the official start of the challenge won’t be until July. There are many ways to participate in the challenge and to help your neighborhood become the greenest in Baltimore. To start, all you have to do is contact Retrofit Baltimore to get your neighborhood involved in the challenge.

Are you in?

Molly Rice

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