Weatherization Assistance Program Implementation & Renovation
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), overseen by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), was created in 1976 to help low-income families invest in energy efficiency. DOE provides weatherization grants to state, territories and some Indian tribes to help improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes. In turn, the grantees contract with local governments and nonprofit agencies to provide the weatherization services. Since its inception, more than seven million homes have been weatherized, with an energy savings average of 35% of consumption for the typical low-income household.
Multifamily Housing is an Underserved Market for
the Weatherization Assistance Program
Historically, MF housing has not been a major recipient of WAP funding. According to a 2014 study by Oak Ridge National Labs, less than 20% of WAP services were provided to MF buildings (i.e., five or more units). In regions considered “moderate climate zones”, only about 8% percent of homes served were in MF buildings.
WAP implementers tends to focus on single-family (SF) homes because working with MFAH properties is technically difficult and financially more complex. Few WAP implementers have the experience and capability to deliver the energy modeling required by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to approve a MFAH project or to leverage various sources of financing to meet the cost-share requirements of WAP to conduct deep retrofits at MFAH properties. In comparison, serving SF homes is simple: WAP pays for everything. ICAST focuses exclusively on MF housing and has a successful record of implementing EERE and health and safety (H&S) upgrades that meet WAP guidelines.
ICAST utilizes WAP funds to provide high quality, cost-effective, weatherization services to income qualified multifamily households. ICAST educates multifamily owners about the benefits WAP and recruits them to install energy and weatherization upgrades on their properties that will reduce utility costs and improve the comfort, health, and safety of low-income families, seniors and disabled tenants.
ICAST utilizes its innovative “one-stop shop” (OSS) approach for implementing green upgrades in multifamily properties. The OSS approach provides comprehensive services to MFproperties including: education and training on the benefits of green upgrades; energy audits with tailored cost and saving estimates; design specifications for contractor bids; assistance with selection and installation of green upgrades; guidance on project financing, including utility rebates and various government incentives; resident engagement and education programs to maximize benefits of the upgrades; and other service(s) needed to make the MFAH property operate efficiently. ICAST’s OSS approach is designed to facilitate enrollment while making green upgrades simple and hassle free to implement for MFAH owners/managers. ICAST has a long history of successfully administering various programs including WAP using its OSS model.
Weatherization Assistance Program Project
Belen Vista-Albuquerque, NM
56 unit low-income household property
Total Project Cost: ~$277,538
Electrical Incentives from Utilities: ~$10,072
Gas Incentives from Utilities: ~$80,549
Project Payback: ~8 Years
Carbon Saved Annually: ~83 Tons
In 2014, ICAST partnered with the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority (MFA) to introduce a new statewide WAP program to serve MFAH properties. Until then, New Mexico’s program had mainly served single-family homes.
MFA contracted ICAST as its statewide WAP agency to directly serve the MF market using its One-Stop-Shop approach and renewed the contract for a three-year period in 2023 (2023-2027).
Compared to the other state Weatherization Assistance Program agencies, ICAST has been able to deliver its WAP services at a third of the cost because it leverages financing and utility rebates to supplement WAP funding.
Client Intake and Termination
Client Intake: is to be performed in a timely manner with rigid documentation of all client interactions. Clients are to be informed of the ranking process, necessary documents and the approximate waiting period prior to weatherization. Clients may also be informed of possible eligibility for the baseload plus program. Consideration shall be taken into place when communicating with a client on how long the process may be. The client needs to be informed if updated information will be necessary prior to the commencement of work.
Clients Termination: shall be notified via mail that they do not qualify or are being terminated. The reason for termination or non-eligibility shall be stated in the letter. They will be notified of their right to protest and the steps involved. They will be required to request a re-evaluation in writing to the Executive Director. Within two weeks of receipt of the written request, the Executive Director will respond via mail. They will also have the right to protest the decision of the Executive Director by providing a written request to the Board. The members of the Board will make a final determination and respond (in writing) to the client within two (2) weeks.
ICAST may, at its own discretion, defer weatherization work on otherwise eligible units on a case-by-case basis. The determination will be based on the ICAST Safety Manual which considers the health and safety of staff, subcontractors, or clients.
The ICAST deferral policy is based on New Mexico Energy$mart Field Program Manual implemented by MFA. ICAST may defer or postpone weatherization services when certain conditions exist. The circumstances for deferal and postponement:
- Postponement of Weatherization Services: ICAST may postpone weatherization services under the following conditions:
- A dwelling unit is vacant.
- A dwelling unit is for sale.
- A dwelling unit is scheduled for demolition.
- A dwelling proves to be dilapidated or structurally unsound and unsafe. Dilapidated units are classified as those which do not provide decent, safe and sanitary shelter in their present state and have defects so serious and numerous that the repairs required to revive the structure to standard condition would not be economically feasible.
- A dwelling unit is deemed by the auditor to pose a threat to the health or safety of the crew or contractor.
- A mobile home is improperly installed (for example, within adequate supports).
- A dwelling unit is uninhabitable (for example, a burned-out apartment).
- A building is affected by mold and mildew and the area affected is too large for the weatherization crew or contractor to remediate.
- The client is uncooperative with the weatherization agency or its contracted agent, either in demanding that certain work be done, refusing higher priority work which is needed, being abusive to the work crew or contractor or by being unreasonable in allowing access to the unit. Every attempt should be made to explain the program and the benefits of the work. If this fails, work should be suspended and MFA should be consulted. In such cases, documentation is required.
- Obvious discrepancies are found between the in the information supplied by the client on the application and observed conditions at the time of weatherization. The agency or contractor must resolve these discrepancies before weatherization work can continue.
- If, at any time prior to the beginning of work (work officially begins when the audit is performed), the agency or contractor determines that the client is no longer eligible or personnel believe that circumstances may have changed, the unit shall not be weatherized until updated information can be obtained from the client.
- There are rats, bats, roaches, reptiles, insects or other animals or varmints that are inadequately or not properly contained on the premises.
- There are health or safety hazards that must be corrected before weatherization services may begin including, but not limited to:
- The presence of animal feces and/or other excrement,
- Disconnected waste water pipes,
- Hazardous electrical wiring,
- The presence of unsafe levels of mold or mildew or Unvented combustion appliances or actionable levels of ambient carbon monoxide.
- There are illegal drugs or illegal activities occurring on the premises.
- The client or owner is physically or verbally abusive to any personnel.
- The dwelling unit or parts thereof are being remodeled and weatherization work is not coordinated with a housing rehabilitation program.
- The eligible household moves from the dwelling unit where weatherization activities and services are in progress. In such a case, the agency or contractor must determine whether to complete the work and the circumstances must be documented in the client file.
- One or more occupants in a dwelling have been diagnosed with a contagious and life-threatening disease.
- When a person’s health may be at risk and/or the work activities could constitute a health and safety hazard, the occupant at risk will be required to take appropriate action based on the severity of the risk. Failure or the inability to take appropriate actions must result in deferral of the weatherization work.
- In unusual situations not covered above or where other problems of a unique nature exist, MFA should be consulted.
- Deferral / Postponement Procedure: If ICAST cannot, or will not weatherize a dwelling unit, it will provide the client and owner or authorized agent with written notification of the deferral including why work is being deferred or postponed. Notification may include:
- The nature and extent of the problem(s) and how the problem(s) relate(s) to the determination not to weatherize the unit;
- Any corrective action required before weatherization services can be initiated;
- A time limit for correcting problems so that weatherization services may be rescheduled;
- The name of the person or entity responsible for correcting the problem(s); and
- The right of appeal.
Documentation justifying the decision to postpone or defer will be maintained in the client file.