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WAP Ranked 2nd in Recovery Act Jobs in 4Q2011



Wednesday, February 01, 2012
The Weatherization Assistance Program moved up to 2nd out of approximately 200 federal programs in the number of direct jobs created or retained, at 13,186 for the fourth quarter beginning October 1 and ending December 31, 2011. You can see the rankings by clicking here.  Since the first quarter 2010, WAP has been ranked in the top 10 in the number of ARRA jobs created, a clear indication that Weatherization Works!

WAP not only creates jobs but has met the goals of the Recovery Act three months early. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu recently highlighted this exceptional achivement with a press release congratulating the Network for weatherizing 600,000 homes ahead of schedule. You can read the press release here. This story is underscored on the recovery.gov homepage, the main repository for all Recovery Act grant information. You can read the positive WAP story here.

With the tough legislative season ahead, it is critical that we share successful stories like these with our Networks and Congressional delegations to highlight the successes of WAP during ARRA and beyond. An easy way to get the word out is to tweet the message below on your Twitter account: 

#Weatherization ranked 2nd out of 200 #RecoveryAct programs for jobs created in 4Q2011. Spread the word, Weatherization Works! 

Blog posts, messages to Congressional delegations, and newspaper articles about your own programs are all ways to get out the message that Weatherization works and should continue in these tough economic times.

For more ideas about Public Information strategies for WAP, please visit the Public Information Campaign section on waptac.org here: http://waptac.org/Public-Information.aspx
 
Thanks for all that you do to ensure the success of the ARRA WAP!

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 11:08 AM
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GAO Releases Study that WAP On Track



Thursday, January 12, 2012
The challenge by the President was steep: weatherize over 600,000 homes across the nation in three years. Difficulties in meeting this goal abounded from Davis-Bacon wages to Historic Preservation requirements, from new reporting obligations to training qualified workers. After only two and half years, however, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is on target to exceed its goals, confirmed in a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Published in December 2011, the report found WAP on track to meet and to exceed the goals set by the Obama Administration under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act).

Often termed the “Congressional watchdog,” GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that, on behalf of Congress, investigates how effectively and responsibly government funds are spent. Despite a number of unflattering hearings in Congress about WAP in the last year, the GAO’s long-term study of the Recovery Act WAP concluded definitively:  WAP is on target to meet the production goals of the Recovery Act.

The report, titled “Progress and Challenges in Spending Weatherization Funds,”  had four main objectives, to: “examine (1) the status and use of weatherization grant program funds under the Recovery Act; (2) the challenges, if any, that recipients faced in implementing the weatherization program under the Recovery Act; (3) the extent to which the weatherization program under the Recovery Act has achieved its energy and cost savings goals; and (4) the changes, if any, over time in the quality of the FTE data reported by Recovery Act recipients (state-level agencies), particularly by weatherization program recipients.”

The agency polled all 58 Grantees of the Recovery Act funding and interviewed stakeholders including officials from the Department of Energy (DOE), national associations focused on low income housing, and 10 state and territorial offices charged with overseeing WAP. Conclusions from the report are largely in line with experiences states and agencies have expressed about the Recovery Act: Davis-Bacon and Historic Preservation requirements slowed the implementation of the program, leading to low expenditures in the first year, but the Program picked up steam considerably in the second and third years. The GAO provided no new recommendations for the program and was overall positive about the achievements of WAP and the work done by States and agencies.

DOE publicized this positive report from the GAO with an announcement by DOE Secretary Chu in December, stating that WAP met its Recovery Act production goals three months early. "Today the Department of Energy marks a major milestone: we have weatherized more than 600,000 low-income homes and put thousands of people to work through the Recovery Act," said Secretary Chu. "Across America, DOE's successful Weatherization Assistance Program has increased the demand for energy-saving products and services, created thousands of skilled jobs, and helped families to reduce energy waste and save money."

The bottom line: WAP has not only met but exceeds the goals of the Recovery Act with the proof to back it up. These are reports and press releases that the Network should be proud of and use in Public Information Campaigns when talking about the program. After negative Inspector General reports and scores of bad stories in the press, WAP is finally getting the recognition for the hard work done across the nation to help low-income families live in safer, healthier, more energy efficient housing. 

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 2:21 PM
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WAP ranks 7th in Job Creation for Recovery Act



Friday, November 04, 2011
The federal low-income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) ranks seventh out of approximately 200 federal programs funded by  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act ) in jobs created or retained with 14,090 for the third quarter beginning July 1 and ending September 30, 2011. WAP has consistently ranked in the top 10 in job creation and retention since the first quarter of 2010.  Beginning in 1976, The U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) has made homes of low-income families more energy efficient, safer, and healthier nationwide, with 6.7 million homes served as of 2010.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) granted $5 billion to the network. This investment has been a resounding success and has improved the homes and lives of over 534,208 low-income families through August 2011. This is just a fraction of the 38.6 million households that are eligible for Weatherization services in the United States.

To see the ranking on Recovery.gov, please click here.

Posted by: Rebecca Stewart at 11:51 AM
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What Do We Do Now?



Monday, October 03, 2011
After the ARRA funding runs out at the end of March, 2012, what do we do? That was the big question on the minds of attendees today at the 2011 National Association for State Community Services Program (NASCSP) Training Conference in Seattle. At the same time everyone felt the need to recognize the huge success achieved by WAP in the three years covered by the ARRA finding, especially because of recent criticism of the WAP program in Congress: WAP is on track to weatherize up to 700,000 homes by next April; more than 15,000 direct jobs were created, and by a conservative estimate 30,000 were created indirectly, including the jobs of manufacturers of audit equipment, weatherization materials like insulation, and equipment such as insulation blowers; more than $5 billion worth of energy savings is being achieved over the life of all the home retrofits; and there have been great strides in weatherizing multifamily buildings, a previously neglected housing sector. In fact, more than 90% of the homes weatherized in the last three years in Alaska have been multifamily buildings. In New York it's more than 70%.

John Davies, Director, Building Performance Center, Opportunity Council, Bellingham, Washington, outlined the challenges:

  • lack of state and federal funding in the near future
  • maintaining the infrastructure of equipment, space, and trained staff
  • how to market to a whole new group of potential homeowners/clients
  • overcoming the non-profit mentality in the minds of staff who may not know the real market value of their work in homes and the public perception that they can get weatherization services for free

Jennifer Somers, Team Lead for Training and Technical Assistance/Policy Advisor, Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program, U.S. DOE offered, if not cut and dry answers, at least some directions to go in. DOE has helped create 39 training centers in 29 states. Those centers are being used already to train technicians to perform more than weatherization—Weatherization Plus Health. A pilot program in New Hampshire is developing a "One Touch" audit approach, where auditors assess a home's safety, air quality, and other health factors in the initial visit. DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is developing a Healthy Home Assessment Audit Tool, as well as a Multifamily Home Energy Assessment Tool.

Somers also mentioned a $5 billion backlog of retrofit needed for HUD housing. DOE's Bob Adams says "It took us a long time to figure out how to partner with organizations like HUD, but we have and it is working. The best thing is that now we have greater advocacy for our work in Congress. HUD too wants us to get the money to do the work they need done." Collaborations with NIH, the CDC and other organizations in the area of healthy housing hold great potential for the future of weatherization. There is much evidence piling up in academic journals and elsewhere that shows that children in clean, dry homes with good air quality do better in school and have to visit the emergency room much less often with asthma attacks. Weatherization Pus Health is a natural fit.

Davie's added to the list of directions the WAP community can go in, and thrive. Just as we are beginning to understand the need for healthy housing the kids, as the nation gets older there will be a greater need to provide healthy housing for seniors. Weatherization agencies can combine grant funds with private company investment and offer whole house retrofits to middle and high income families. New energy codes in Washington State (and elsewhere) require duct testing when a furnace is changed out. Some states are investigating the idea of requiring a home energy audit be preformed before an existing home is sold. And weatherization agencies and contractors can offer environmental services such as lead, asbestos, Radon, and mold abatement. And the many training programs around the nation can keep training people to do all kinds of home performance work.

It's not a happy time now. Joel Eisenberg of Oak Ridge says about the pending end of ARRA funding, "It was a lot more fun on the way up." But people are not too discouraged. When one door closes, new ones open. At the NASCSP Training Conference in 2016, I'll bet we'll be saying things like, "No one expected this. Who knew we would be thriving the way we are thriving now?" Retrofitting homes on Mars may be a stretch, but a thriving home performance market nationwide—with guidance and regulation from the government, but not a whole lot of money—sure isn't.

Jim Gunshinan is an editor at Home Energy Magazine. This article was originally published September 22, 2011.

Posted by: Jin Gunshinan at 9:42 AM
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WAP Ranked as 8th Highest Job Creater Q2



Monday, August 01, 2011
WAP ranked as the 8th highest ARRA job creator for the second quarter of 2011. This is the third quarter in a row that WAP has earned this distinction.

With national unemployment sitting at 9.2%, the jobs created through the WAP program in the struggling housing industry are vital. Congratulations to the WAP Network for all of the hard work and dedication it takes to create these jobs while at the same time improving the lives of low income peoples and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 3:57 PM
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WAP hits new Milestone: 400,000 homes



Thursday, May 12, 2011
The Weatherization Network hit a new milestone: weatherizing over 400,000 through March 2012. This is well on the way to the 650,000 mandated by the Recovery Act for WAP!

The Network should be proud of this great achivement. While there is a lot of work left to be done in the months ahead, it's important to recognize the substantial work and impressive performance of Grantees to date.

Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 11:52 AM
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Mississippi Weatherization Agency delivers on Energy Savings: 93 jobs created and 1,423 homes Weatherized with ARRA, and DOE/LIHEAP funds



Monday, March 07, 2011

Bethesda, MD --- State & Local Energy Report, together with National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) announced the winner of the 3rd Annual Residential Energy Efficiency Awards for Weatherization:  South Central Community Action Agency, Inc. (SCCAA) of Mississippi.

The group from Mississippi was recognized among their peers at the annual meeting of Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) providers.  WAP is the largest residential energy efficiency program in the nation and performs a vital role in reducing the burden of high energy price on low-income families.  Since the Program’s inception, more than 6.4 million homes have been weatherized using federal, state, utility and other funds. 

SCCAA of Mississippi was founded in 2001, and received their first Weatherization Grant in 2009; they immediately began weatherizing homes in 4 counties, reaching 1,423 homes to date.   The Weatherization Program has proven to be an excellent generator of green jobs among some of the hardest-hit labor markets, creating more than 15,426 new jobs from ARRA funding nationwide.  Ninety-three of those new jobs were created in D’Lo, Mississippi at SCCAA.  Jesse Griffin, Executive Director commented that a critical role is growing the people in their jobs.

Bob Scott, Director of Director of Weatherization Services for NASCSP, and one of the contest’s sponsors, believes “these projects are examples of how weatherization agencies can develop innovative community undertakings, and leverage additional resources to be an integral partner in community-based efforts to create jobs, reduce energy consumption, boost local economic activity, and improve the environment." NASCSP congratulates SCCAA on the great work they are doing for weatherization and the WAP.


Posted by: Alice Gaston at 3:02 PM
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WAP 8th in Recovery Act Jobs!



Monday, January 31, 2011
The Weatherization Assistance Program ranked 8th out of approximately 200 federal programs in the number of direct jobs created or retained with 15,426 for the quarter beginning October 1, 2010 and ending December 31, 2010. You can see this by clicking here.   

This number shows an increase from the previous quarter and is the highest number of WAP jobs to date.  WAP has consistently been ranked in the top 10 in the number of ARRA jobs.

Thanks for all that you do to ensure the success of the ARRA WAP!

Posted by: Rebecca Stewart at 11:30 AM
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Secretary Chu Announces Major New Recovery Act Milestone: 300,000 Homes Weatherized



Thursday, January 20, 2011

NASCSP is proud to share U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s announcement yesterday:

“States and territories across the country have now weatherized more than 300,000 low-income homes under the Recovery Act, a major milestone in the Department's efforts to reduce home energy bills for families.  This means that states are now more than 50 percent of the way toward meeting President Obama's goal of weatherizing approximately 600,000 homes under the Recovery Act.  The weatherization program is helping families save money on their energy bills by improving home energy efficiency with upgrades like insulation, air-sealing, and more efficient heating and cooling systems.   The program has also trained a new generation of clean energy workers and is employing more than 15,000 workers nationwide. 
 
"Today marks a major milestone for the weatherization program and shows once again that we are on pace to meet the goals of the Recovery Act.  This program has already benefitted 300,000 low-income families and put thousands of people to work," said Secretary Chu.  "Through the weatherization program, we are laying the groundwork for a broader efficiency industry in the U.S. that will help grow our economy while saving money for American families."

Through November, the network of state offices, local agencies, and weatherization providers has completed 300,000 homes. Of the total, more than 100,000 have been completed in just the last four months, showing the dramatically accelerated pace of weatherization under the program.  A state-by-state breakdown of the homes weatherized through November is available at http://www.energy.gov/recovery/energyefficiency.htm

Weatherization assistance reduces energy consumption for low-income families on average 35 percent, saving families on average more than $400 on their heating and cool bills in the first year alone.  Nationwide, the weatherization of 300,000 homes is estimated to save $161 million in energy costs in just the first year. 

DOE has worked closely with state and local governments to ensure the program is well-managed, responsive, and flexible.  Nearly all of the states and territories involved in the program have met the milestone of weatherizing more than 30 percent of their targeted number of homes and many have completed more than half of their goals to date.”

NASCSP Congratulates the Network on these Reaching Recovery Act Milestones! 

To view the original posting, please click here.


Posted by: Alice Gaston at 10:36 AM
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WAP Recovery Act Success Story: Montana



Monday, December 20, 2010
The incredibly beautiful vast open spaces of Montana are one of the natural treasures of the nation.  The State covers 147,138 square miles, with a single agency covering 47,945 square miles, an area as large as the state of Louisiana. The harsh climate can be hard on the housing stock and low-income families in the State.  The Montana Recovery Act Program has risen to the challenge of providing comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits through their Weatherization Assistance Program, making homes more comfortable and safe for thousands of households. 

Montana received $26,543,777 in Recovery Act funding for a Program typically funded around $2-3 million. To ensure the funds were as effective as possible and in the spirit of the Recovery Act, Jim Nolan, Bureau Chief of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services chose to approach the grant as two year money.  They have been effective at doing so, with some agencies already close to finishing out Recovery Act production and with 4,081 units completed by the end of 3rd Quarter 2010. 

When asked about Montana’s success, Jim states, “Our weatherization staff, headed by Kane Quenemoen and his field staff have been extraordinary in working to get this program rolled out.”  Nolan credit regular meetings, excellent management, and a cooperative relationship between the State and local agencies for the smoothly running Program.  The regular meetings include State level meetings weekly and meetings with the ten Community Action Agencies and one tribal government monthly to ensure that guidance is clear.  These meetings include clear metrics and reports on homes weatherized and steps necessary to move forward.  Further, even before the Recovery Act, Montana convened quarterly roundtable meetings to talk about what is and what is not working and make sure all interested parties are at the table when making decisions.

Montana also chose to move funds around from local agency to local agency, utilizing agency wisdom and experience.  Local agencies stepped up to the challenge and did all they could to roll out the expanded program.  Also, when the Recovery Act hit , the State worked very closely with the CAAs to ensure that they were ready to ramp up with equipment and vehicles so that everyone was ready to go. 

In addition to the WAP, Jim’s office runs several other programs, including the Community Services Block Grant, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Housing for People with AIDS (HOPWA), Emergency Shelter grants and a new HUD homelessness program called Housing Prevention Rapid ReHousing, funded at $4 million. Finally, his might be the only CSBG office that operates a food commodities warehouse, complete with 3 trucks and trailers to store, handle and ship USDA food to Indian reservations, food banks and senior centers!

Hiring and training of workers has been key to getting funds out quickly and efficiently, including two at the State level and 130 at the local level.  One concern about the end of the Recovery Act is the possible loss of jobs once the WAP ramps down.  Nolan says, “the training and work experience we have provided should serve staff well as the green jobs economy comes into play.” Montana State University (MSU) provides training for the Program, with 400 attending in the last year on a wide variety of topics including Weatherization 101, Lead Renovation Repair and Painting, Furnace Training, Health and Safety, Mobile Home Clinic, and more.  MSU is a nationally recognized leader in training and has been widely praised for their WXTV training videos found here: http://www.weatherization.org/wxtv/.

Montana is truly a model of cooperative training and management as well as Recovery Act success.  Mr. Nolan also thanks us, his national partner saying, “All the information NASCSP has made available on weatherization and through WAPTAC has been invaluable.”  Thanks for showing us that weatherization works!

Posted by: Rebecca Stewart at 10:12 AM
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