March 4, 2022

Energize Delaware announced today that the Empowerment Grant Program (EGP), funded by the Exelon Merger for Delmarva Power Customers in Delaware, is awarding $800,000 to New Ecology (NEI) to launch the Climate Smart Homes (CSH) initiative in Delaware. NEI will use these grant funds to collaborate closely with development partners to achieve high levels of energy performance, climate-readiness, and improved indoor air quality through all-electric homes affordable to low- to moderate-income households. In addition, funds will help cover the estimated incremental cost of development, relative to code requirements, and technical assistance provided by NEI.

Climate Smart Homes will deliver sustainable, high-performance housing, job training opportunities, and community education in coordination with ongoing community revitalization and housing stabilization efforts led by local community groups and the City of Wilmington. Development partners include Central Baptist Community Development Corporation, Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County, Cinnaire Solutions, and Woodlawn Trustees.

Climate Smart Homes will be gut rehabilitation of vacant, existing row homes and new construction of similar homes on vacant lots. Some homes will be affordable rentals, with most homes sold to low-to-moderate-income households. All homes will adhere to NEI’s design and construction template specifically suited for the local building typology and climate. Homes are expected to achieve near-Passive House performance levels, with some homes benefiting from rooftop solar PV.

NEI estimates the annual utility cost of both the average CSH-home and the code-built home reliant on the combustion of fossil fuels to be $1,500.  With the addition of an average-sized solar PV system, which is the CSH-intent, this annual utility bill would decrease roughly $530, or 30% of the annual utility cost.  Obviously, the conventional home would not provide solar PV.  Through CSH, one-hundred percent of these benefits accrue to LMI households and communities. Funding for potential solar PV systems comes from other resources.

In addition to assisting the design and construction teams working on supported homes, NEI will work through a local workforce development center to provide broader education and training opportunities for local laborers regarding the unique elements of high-performance homes.

“This partnership will go a long way toward meeting our objective of stabilizing the housing market in our Eastside Community,” said Rev. Dr. Terrence Keeling, President/CEO of Central Baptist CDC. “Not only will we be bringing abandoned and distressed homes back online for homeownership, but we will be doing it in a way that brings added value as well as monthly savings to the new homeowner. I am convinced that the success of this program will serve to establish a solar deployment and energy-efficient model for low to moderate-income housing development that can be replicable throughout the city.”

“I am very enthusiastic and encouraged about this comprehensive approach to building more efficient homes in underserved communities,” said Jim Purcell, Empowerment Director of Development and Programs. “The program will open the door to area residents to get control of their energy costs through efforts to install energy-efficient features and products in these homes, helping to bring about long term energy savings for the future residents.”

Additional program details about the Empowerment Grant program, including qualifications, requirements and how to submit proposals, can be found at: www.empowergrantde.org.  A Facebook page – @EmpowerGrantDE; and a Twitter account – @EmpowerGrantDE; are also available for public interaction and information.

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