In late October, work began on five of eleven St. Ambrose rental properties that are currently slated for an energy upgrade. Located in the Barclay community, St. Ambrose purchased and rehabbed all eleven of the houses in the late 1970s. Today, the properties are receiving a “green” makeover that will help keep the properties affordable by lowering utility and maintenance costs for residents.
Funding for the improvements is provided as part of the Federal Stimulus program and is being administered by Baltimore City’s Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). WAP provides home improvements that reduce energy consumption and utility costs for low income households. WAP’s Director in Baltimore City, Ken Strong, and DHCD have worked dilligently with St. Ambrose in an effort to “green” these units and help us maintain affordable housing.
Much of the initial work done on the first five of the rental properties focuses on increasing the energy efficiency of the houses. Currently, attics are having additional insulation installed and basements are being sealed for air infiltration. Additional energy saving improvements include replacing unvented bath fans with vented ones to control moisture, replacing conventional light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, and installing low-flow faucet aerators and shower heads.
The houses are also set to receive “cool roofs” through a consortium of partners assembled by Mr. Strong. The new white roof coating is expected to reduce attic temperatures by up to 70 degrees in the summertime. Civic Works is partnering with a local occupational training program to provide the labor for the project free of charge. The roofing materials are covered by stimulus funding and expanded Community Development Block Grants.
WAP, with another source of stimulus funding, will also provide new heating systems for the units. Five houses are slated to have their gas furnaces replaced with high efficiency furnaces. The other six houses will have their electric baseboard heating systems replaced with compact, high-efficiency boilers that will produce hot water in addition to heating the homes.
The total projected savings for the residents are substantial. Besides rent, utilities are the single largest housing expense for our residents-who are responsible for all utility costs. The energy upgrades are expected to save households close to 40% on their monthly utility bills. These savings will help to keep the houses affordable for our residents at a time when utility costs are on the rise.
For more information on the Weatherization Assistance Program, please visit:
Brian Devlin contributed to this post.