Marketing a Conservation Program Through Grassroots Organizing Neighborhood Energy Workshop Program

The Neighborhood Energy Workshop (N.E.W.) Program is a comprehensive, cost-effective, neighborhood-oriented energy conservation program that is co-sponsored by the City of Minneapolis and Minnegasco, the local gas utility. N.E.W. serves the entire city, including: 1-4 units; homeowners, renters and landlords; low, moderate and high income levels. Over 23,000 households have actively participated in N.E.W. since 1981.

The program is implemented by city staff-.who identify and train volunteer block captains to invite their neighbors to the energy workshops. Volunteers are held accountable to a goal of 50% of each block to insure that the workshops are well attended. The blocks served so far have averaged 35-40% participation overall, compared to 3-5% participation in RCS programs elsewhere.

N.E.W. addresses a total approach to energy savings that includes these four components of conservation: energy use habits; furnace and appliance efficiency; low cost weatherization (based on the Princeton Study's House Doctor Approach); and, major weatherization. Participants receive $40-$50 worth (retail) of weatherization materials and training to do the low cost improvements themselves, and an RCS energy audit at no cost. Low-interest financing, city-certified contractors and a free infrared are provided for participants to complete major weatherization improvements. The entire program, including the audit, materials and staff time, is delivered at a cost of approximately $80 per household.

With appropriate variations, N.E.W.'s successful program delivery could be applied to energy conservation programs in any part of the country, no matter what the size of the community, income level or source of fuel of participants

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Marketing a Conservation Program Through Grassroots Organizing Neighborhood Energy Workshop Program in Minneapolis