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Environmental and Climate Justice Committee helps provide energy efficiency to low-income families

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Committee is excited to partner with Rebuild and Habitat to support low-income families living in energy-efficient homes using money from the Orange County Community Climate Action Grant program.

The project will help 30 low-income households transition from inefficient, greenhouse gas generating water heaters to highly efficient, greenhouse gas minimizing water heaters.

The branch extends special thanks to committee member Bill Ward, who led our team through the application process and will be integral to its execution.

Equal justice includes environmental and climate justice for all segments of our community. This project supports that mission.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners approved six projects on Feb. 2 to receive funding from the Orange County Community Climate Action Grant program for 2020-21. The grant program provides funding for climate action projects that will benefit Orange County residents both socially and financially.

The grant program is funded by a quarter-cent of property tax revenue each year, with $478,657 available for FY 21.

The Community Climate Action grant program received seven applications from a variety of non-profit and public organizations whose total requests add up to more than $1.2 million. While staff fielded some questions from prospective applicants from the private sector, no private sector applications were received, said Brennan Bouma, Orange County Sustainability Coordinator.

Following scoring and eligibility guidelines approved by the Board of County Commissioners, the applications were reviewed and scored by the Commission for the Environment (CFE) and the Human Relations Commission (HRC). The Human Relations Commission scored the applications on the Social Justice and Racial Equity criterion, as this pertains to their expertise and because the racial representation of the CFE as a whole does not reflect the racial diversity of Orange County.

The HRC and the CFE discussed the scoring process and reviewed application materials in three monthly meetings. On Dec. 14, each of these commissions approved their final scoring and comments on each application to be presented to the BOCC.

“I’m very pleased with the quality of the projects we are supporting,” said Orange County Commissioner Sally Greene, who served on the committee that helped develop the scoring criteria. “I think it worked out well getting input from the Human Relations Commission for the racial justice aspect. I’m very pleased to see how this is working out.”

The top five scoring applications were funded at 100 percent of their request. The sixth project received a little more than half of its request. One project did not receive any funding.

The top-scoring project came from Habitat for Humanity from Orange County, which requested $95,000 to install rooftop solar panels on new Habitat homes in the community.

“Habitat is currently constructing new homes throughout the county,” said Jennifer Player, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. “These funds are going to make it possible for ten more families in Orange County to enjoy the benefits of solar on their homes. I want to applaud the county’s commitment to ensuring these climate action funds are distributed in an equitable way and are accessible to everyone in our community.”

The FY22 grant cycle will begin later this spring, and we look forward to funding another full round of community projects to help make Orange County more efficient and more equitable, Bouma said.

Water Heater Replacement

Applicant (Collaborators): NAACP of Chapel Hill and Carrboro (Rebuilding Together of the Triangle and Habitat for Humanity of Orange County)

Cost Estimate: $122,100

Recommended Funding Level: $122,100

Total Score (Out of 25 pts): 21.2

This project will help 30 low-income households transition from inefficient, greenhouse gas generating water heaters to highly efficient, greenhouse gas minimizing water heaters. Applicants to the Orange County Home Preservation Coalition (OCHCP) for weatherization, energy efficiency, urgent repair, or other related services constitute the target population for this project.

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