With energy prices climbing and concern for the societal cost of climate change growing more and more attention is being paid towards “green solutions” to address both issues. I recently ran a post regarding the city’s efforts to go “greener” and increase efficiency while maximizing cost savings through the use of an energy performance contract. Our Department of Planning and Development in conjunction with a group of partners is spearheading a program for our residents to achieve a similiar goal with their own homes.
The City of Lowell in partnership with National Grid, Advanced Building Analysis, UMass Lowell and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources announces the launch of the “Getting to Zero Energy Challenge“. “Zero Energy” refers to a state where a home is producing as much energy as it consumes through a combination of super conservation and efficiency and newer alternative energy producers. This balance can make it possible to receive zero fuel and electricity bills. Sounds great and while many home owners and builders have figured out how to do it, it isn’t easy and does require an initial short term investment to reap the long term results.
Here’s where the “Zero Energy Challenge”comes in. Two property owners who can come closest to achieving the goal of “Zero Energy” will be awarded $25,000 a piece. One award is reserved for low to moderate income family based on area median income (below 80% area median income). The second prize will have no income restrictions.
This is a great opportunity for our residents. Similiar competitions are underway in other communities in Massachusetts and the New England, however this program distinguishes it from others in that it targets exisiting residential buildings located in the urban context as opposed to new construction in surburban and rural locales.
The competition provides an opportunity to promote a greater understanding of the technologies and building practices available to Lowell residents and to elevate the concept of “green building” as a viable option for the average homeowner. We also have the opportunity to partner with a group of terrific engineering students and faculty at UML. This program has the potential to put the City at the forefront of the urban green residential movement.
Much, much more information and applications can be found at gettingtozero.lowellma.gov . The “Intent to Apply” will be due on January 2, 2009 followed by the full application on March 15, 2009.