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The Energy-Efficient Home

Posted by Christina B. Farnsworth

Jun 11, 2014 2:48:00 PM

Chicago-based Elevate Energy’s The Value for High Performance Homes Campaign is removing barriers toward the fair value of energy-efficient homes through a variety of programs. Their motto is “To do more with less energy.”

Last summer, Elevate Energy released its publication, available in pdf, Unlocking the Value of an Energy Efficient Home: A Blueprint to Make Energy Efficient Visible in the Real Estate MarketThe book urges adoption of the means to make energy efficiency ad its benefits visible to to home buyers. The organization praises the collaboration between HERS and the Appraisal Institute (reported in Green Builder late last year) that developed an easy-to-use, auto populating form that helps appraisers determine the value of energy improvements. “It is this type of data transfer that is helping to pave the way for energy efficient homes to be properly valued,” the organization says.

It also praises the The Green MLS (multi-listing service) Toolkit. When all the players understand and can tell the story of why a dwelling is green and energy efficient, the faster that dwelling sells.

Formed in 2000 by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and recently renamed Elevate Energy, the energy arm of the CNT started by “organizing neighborhood-specific responses to address brownouts affecting the Chicago area.” Then the group, “invented the concept of hourly electricity pricing programs for residential customers, piloted a program to prove it would work, and then helped pass a law to make it available to everyone in Illinois.” From there they moved to partner “with the affordable housing community to use energy efficiency retrofits in apartment buildings as a tool to preserve vital housing stock for working families.” Sadly, older, affordable buildings have really expensive energy bills, these programs help improve energy efficiency while keeping the housing affordable.

Elevate Energy “designs and implements efficiency programs that lower costs, protect the environment, and ensure the benefits of energy efficiency reach those who need them most” -- what they call the “triple bottom line” approach. They work grassroots with individual buildings and with utilities and other organizations to develop programs.

Now Elevate Energy is “working with utilities to develop another innovative rate option—peak time rebate—and we retrofit a myriad of building types, from single family homes and smaller apartment buildings to houses of worship and daycare centers.”

They also work to “bring efficiency to scale.” For example, they administer Energy Impact Illinois, a regional initiative of utilities, governmental entities, and nonprofit organizations working to create a self-sustaining efficiency marketplace. They partner with contractors to "ensure their construction work maximizes energy efficiency gains. We are helping the City of Chicago implement its energy benchmarking ordinance, and we’re working with the real estate community to appropriately value energy efficiency upgrades at the point of home sale/purchase.” The group is currently working to incorporate water conservation and flood prevention measures into building retrofit programs.

They don’t just do for others, but also set an example. Their first office was a 1920's weaving factory renovated to become the second building in Chicago to receive U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) LEED Platinum status in 2005.

As CNT grew and added its affiliate now known as Elevate Energy, it developed a second office space with a large paved lot that they “tore up to create a rain garden that reduced runoff and created an oasis alongside our busy, gritty street.”

 


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