The two programs rolled out last month by the Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability focus on home upgrades and green job skills. Courtesy of Storyblocks.
March 3, 2023
Last fall, Dallas passed a budget that included increased funding for its Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan.
In February, the city rolled out two of those initiatives aimed at helping residents adapt to extreme weather events, transition to renewable energy and stay up to date on green building methods.
The new programs — one focused on home improvement and the other on green job training — were introduced at a press conference held last month at City Hall.
“Both support the CECAP in getting us to our climate action goals,” said Katherine Bazan, chair of the city of Dallas’ Environmental Commission.
The Whole Home Dallas program is designed to help homeowners update their homes to make them more resilient and energy efficient.
The Green Job Skills program offers training to residents already working in the construction industry to help fill the demand for green home improvement in North Texas.
WEATHERING THE STORMS
The Whole Home Dallas program does not offer funding for upgrades to homes. Instead, the online hub connects homeowners to existing programs that offer financial assistance, rebates and tax incentives.
The goal is to help Dallasites, especially low-income residents, withstand extreme weather events, like life-threatening heat waves and historic freezes, which Texans have been experiencing due to global warming. Resources are also aimed at helping homeowners lower utility costs, increase their home’s energy efficiency and reduce pollution, according to Carlos Evans, director of the Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability.
“In Dallas, emissions from stationary sources account for approximately 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions," said Evans. "Of that approximately 20 percent comes from residential homes. Energy bills continue to rise. And much of our housing stock is older, particularly in our historically disadvantaged communities. That is why it is critical that we focus on weatherizing our homes, making them more energy efficient and advancing renewable energy like solar.”
Paula Blackmon, Dallas City Councilwoman and chair of the Environmental and Sustainability Committee, said low-income residents suffer disproportionally from the effects of climate change.
“Dallas residents are seeing more extreme weather, and we’ve seen it every year with our droughts or heat or just last week the cold snaps that we experienced. We know that vulnerable members of our community experience effects of climate change at a more intense rate and they are the least equipped to rebound after extreme events,” said Blackmon.
NAVIGATING THE SITE
The Whole Home Dallas site is sorted into three main categories: weatherization, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Under each category are links to current income-based assistance programs, as well as rebates and tax incentives.
Weatherization improvements refer to upgrades like caulking, weatherstripping, insulating, installing energy efficient windows and repairing or replacing doors.
Energy efficiency improvements include things like purchasing Energy Star appliances and light bulbs, programmable thermastats and smart plugs.
The Renewable Energy resource page has a guide to solar incentives.
“Some are fairly simple upgrades they can do themselves,” said Blackmon. “The resource hub will also connect Dallas residents to service providers who can assist in the implementation of these upgrades.”
The site is “active” meaning it will be updated throughout the year as new programs emerge.
GREEN JOB SKILLS
The Green Job Skills program is aimed at residents working in the building industry.
The pilot program offers online training on home improvement skills that can make homes better able to withstand extreme weather events, function more energy efficiently and transition to renewable energy.
The pilot program, offered in partnership with Santa Fe Community College, has room for up to 50 applicants.
The virtual courses are available for free and are self-paced. Applicants must already be in the construction trades.
Bazan said the Environmental Commission is working with the city to get the word out about the programs via email blasts, newsletters, social media and in-person events, She said the Commission understands the challenges of reaching those who need the programs the most — the economically challenged
“We have to be really thoughtful and strategic about how we’re engaging residents and prospective trainees in each program — especially our low income residents, so they can take full advantage of tax incentives, the funding, rebates and all those opportunities to implement weatherization, energy efficiency and renewable measures,” said Bazan during the press conference.
The current city of Dallas budget allots $150,000 for the two pilot programs. Evans hopes interest in them will result in their expansion.
“If we see that residents appreciate the programs and are using them, we hope that that will be seen by our council members who will hopefully support these programs moving forward.”
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