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Pilot program encourages companies to consider energy efficiency upgrades as an employee benefit

The City of Kansas City, Mo., announces the Home Energy Affordability Loan pilot program, an energy-efficiency loan program developed in Arkansas that blends employee quality of life with corporate environmental responsibility. The pilot program was designed by the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative and has been underway for more than four years in Arkansas with many types of participating employers, including hospitals, manufacturers and municipalities. Kansas City, Mo., is one of six additional national locations piloting the program.

The pilot program is funded and implemented by the City of Kansas City, Mo., and managed by the Metropolitan Energy Center.

“This program is among the first of its kind in the United States,” said Dennis Murphey, the City’s chief environmental officer. “Its goal is to motivate companies to view home energy efficiency analysis and upgrades as a benefit for employees.”

Several local employers are participating in the pilot program, which is funded with $400,000 from the City’s EnergyWorks KC program. Funding for EnergyWorks KC is made available from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“We’d like to encourage 150 employees to complete a home energy analysis and at least 75 of those to complete energy improvements in their home,” said Gerald Shechter, the City’s sustainability coordinator.

Metropolitan Energy Center, the primary service provider for the City’s EnergyWorks KC program, will present energy efficiency information sessions at participating employers’ offices to encourage employees to receive a free home energy analysis – a savings of $300-$500.

Employees who sign up for the analysis will receive a personalized energy plan that clearly specifies what home energy efficiency improvements can be made and the estimated annual savings for each improvement. They may then decide whether or not to proceed with the upgrades.

“The program is a great investment, since participants can expect at least a 15 percent savings in their energy bills as a result – an investment that exceeds the returns of many other common employee benefits,” Murphey said.

In addition, all employees of participating employers, who own their home, may participate; there are no income restrictions or other qualifications to meet.

“Employees will then pay for their energy efficiency upgrades through payroll deductions, which reduces risk,” said Jenifer Degen, EnergyWorks KC contract manager. “It’s a very well-thought out process.”

Participating employers may choose one of two program models to administer the program, with the goal of creating a self-sustaining program in the future after the pilot program ends in March 2014.

“Extension of the program into the future will depend upon employer acceptance and implementation of the HEAL program concepts,” Murphey said.

Employers interested in participating in this pilot program are advised to contact the Metropolitan Energy Center at 816-531-7283 as soon as possible, as funding for additional participants is limited.


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