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Carbondale, CLEER launch Home Energy Score pilot program

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On Aug. 4, the Town of Carbondale, in conjunction with Carbondale-based Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), announced that it was undertaking a pilot program utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score (HES) rubric. The program is offering free energy checkups for 100 residences in the town.

Once completed, the results will be analyzed and used to determine if Carbondale will employ a more detailed national home energy assessment (or audit) as part of the Town’s overall objective of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050; and, in Garfield County, the more short-term goal of achieving a 12% reduction in overall energy usage (from a 2019 baseline) by 2030.

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As part of its net-zero goal, Carbondale has enacted strict building codes, including, in 2022, adopting the 2018 International Green Construction Code, which regulates all new construction and some remodeling. However, these rules do not apply to existing buildings, which, as Zuleika Pevec, CLEER’s clean energy program manager, pointed out in the Aug. 4 memo, “account for the greater share of the Town’s emissions.” She continued, “We see the potential for something like the Home Energy Score system to drive improvement in existing homes.”

Carbondale Mayor Ben Bohmfalk, under whose leadership the 2022 ordinance was enacted, echoed Pevec, telling The Sopris Sun, “We have to start chipping away at the most difficult part [of reaching our objectives] — existing homes,” noting that the goal was to “make them as efficient as we can.” He continued, “What we’re seeing is the grid is getting greener, and [referring to HES] anything that gets us [to our goals] helps. Home-energy scores will help immediately — a win-win.”

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CLEER is managing the pilot project as part of its annual contract with the Town. Heidi McCullough, the organization’s buildings specialist, will oversee the HES program and conduct the individual assessments. Each checkup, which takes about an hour, will rate a home on a one-to-ten scale (10 being the most efficient). The homeowner will then get a report with recommendations that include cost-effective measures on how they can improve their home’s efficiency.

McCullough told The Sun that they chose the number 100 because it was “a large sample” for a town this size in order to “genuinely assess [the program] for the town … so that the town can [then] assess the value of it,” — especially regarding whether Carbondale wants to apply the national home energy audit program here. She noted that the HES assessment is “scored under the same metrics” as the national program.

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Asked about homeowners’ response to HES, McCullough said that some 40 homeowners signed up on the day it was announced. Applications slowed after that, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. She said that they “want to get a variety of home types,” and felt that the diversity could still be broader. To that end, she plans to “target some neighborhoods” with door hangers where she would like a larger response. Bohmfalk also mentioned that he hoped this article would “help spread the word” about the program.

Once the assessments are completed, the CLEER staff will work with Carbondale to determine how it wants to move forward. McCullough said that part of that process will include a follow-up survey sent to all participants in the HES program. Bohmfalk said that he sees “a lot of value in pilot projects” like HES, allowing the Town to “get some metrics.” It might also help the Town get grants and financing that could allow it to set up a program like Garfield Clean Energy’s highly successful ReEnergize Garfield County, which completed its second season in 2023 and again assisted dozens of qualifying homeowners in the county to upgrade their energy efficiency.

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Learn more about this project and how to sign up at:

Tags: #Ben Bohmfalk #Clean Energy Economy for the Region #CLEER #Heidi McCullough #home energy assessment #net-zero #Town of Carbondale
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