NW Natural Funds PCRI-Verde Collaboration

December 21, 2013 · by pcriadmin · Featured, PCRI

PCRI believes that low-income families should not be forced to choose between keeping their homes warm and putting healthy food on their table.  To help low-income families stay warm and have money left for other essentials, a partnership of Portland businesses will soon begin a pilot weatherization program at ten of PCRI’s single-family homes in North and Northeast Portland.

HELP installers discuss a home's weatherization measures.

HELP installers discuss a home’s weatherization measures.

The pilot, a collaboration between Portland non-profits PCRI and Verde, will be funded by NW Natural.  It provides energy-saving weatherization improvements like air sealing and insulation to low-income households without challenges like waiting lists and up-front costs that accompany many existing weatherization programs.

“This pilot is a great opportunity to more efficiently provide utility cost savings to families who need it most,” said Travis Phillips, Housing Development Manager at PCRI.  “We’re eager to see and expand on the pilot’s success so these and other families can spend their hard-earned salaries on school books and healthy food instead of keeping their home warm

PCRI and Verde are also using the pilot to provide economic opportunity to low-income families and communities of color.  The two non-profits engaged Home Energy Life Performance Group (H.E.L.P.), a minority- and woman-owned business who has already weatherized and reduced energy consumption for over 800 Oregon homes, to perform the weatherization improvements.  The project is expected to create 340 work hours in its pilot phase, with additional opportunity in future phases.

“Along with helping Oregon families to live in warmer, healthier homes, partnerships like this mean we can grow skilled-labor jobs, while generating additional opportunities for multiple local business providers,” said Berenice Lopez, President of Home Energy Life Performance Group.

Beyond measures like air sealing and insulation, the pilot includes an education program, funded by a grant from a private foundation, helping residents understand the work being performed and how household habits affect their energy bills, comfort and healthy indoor environments.

“NW Natural is excited to fund and partner on this innovative program,” said Bill Edmonds, NW Natural director of environmental management and sustainability. “Even though gas prices are as low as they were in 2004, that doesn’t make drafts any warmer. We think it’s important to reach as many households as possible with education and services about energy efficiency.”

The pilot phase of the project is expected to be complete in early 2014.  Following a successful pilot, PCRI and Verde aim to replicate the program elsewhere in PCRI’s affordable housing portfolio, for seniors in PCRI’s Homeownership Retention program, and with other organizations serving low-income Oregon residents.

Want to learn more? Contact Travis Phillips at PCRI and read about our partners below:

ABOUT VERDE:  Verde serves communities by building environmental wealth through social enterprise, outreach and advocacy.  Verde establishes social enterprises to employ and train low-income adult community members, create contracting opportunities for minority-owned and women-owned businesses, and bring environmental assets to low-income neighborhoods. www.verdenw.org

ABOUT H.E.L.P.: Born out of a desire to build an organization that combined green job values with assistance to homeowners, Home Energy Life Performance Group, Inc. (H.E.L.P.) has been a driving force in Oregon’s home performance industry and is committed to helping make warmer and healthier homes accessible to all Oregonians.  The company’s trained and certified staff perform all aspects of weatherization using building science practices. www.helppdx.com

ABOUT NW Natural: NW Natural (NYSE:NWN) is headquartered in Portland, Ore., and provides natural gas service to about 689,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. It is the largest independent natural gas utility in the Pacific Northwest.  Additional information is available at www.nwnatural.com.

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