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Community groups help recruit Cully neighbors for Clean Energy Works Portland

Over 300 residents from Portland’s Cully neighborhood gathered at Rigler School in early August to learn about the “Changing the Climate in Cully” initiative. As part of the Clean Energy Works Portland (CEWP) residential weatherization retrofit program, homeowners who choose to participate in the Cully neighborhood project will improve the comfort and value of their homes, save energy and create family-supporting jobs in the community.

Sponsored by Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good (MACG) and a coalition of other community partners, the event — which also featured free ice cream, music, games and family entertainment — marked the kick-off of the neighborhood-led initiative. Homeowners in attendance learned more about home weatherization and many signed up on-the-spot for an energy audit assessment. Through outreach and volunteer activities such as door-knocking and house parties, MACG’s “Changing the Climate in Cully” effort will retrofit 100 Cully homes by the end of the year.

"Portland is known for our dynamic and livable neighborhoods. Thanks to the organizing efforts of groups like MACG, homeowners in neighborhoods like Cully, Lents and Interstate are getting involved and taking advantage of programs like Clean Energy Works Portland,” said Mayor Sam Adams. “This program helps homeowners reduce their energy use and costs, puts Portlanders to work at clean-tech jobs, and helps our city meet our climate action goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. This kind of grassroots activism exemplifies the best spirit of Portland."

To begin with, the program will create 17 new jobs, while sustaining another 16. In order to provide the highest quality work for Cully customers while ensuring the most valuable job creation, six small local construction contractors and workers from LIUNA (Laborers International Union of North America) have teamed up to perform the weatherization retrofit work. This guarantees living wage jobs and healthcare benefits for all workers employed on the project. With a new breakthrough weatherization training program, LIUNA is providing training and credentials in highly skilled jobs as weatherization installers and supervisors. In addition, subcontractors representing three trade union locals (Sheet Metal Workers Local 16, Electrical Workers Local 48 and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 290) will be performing specialty work on the project.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability a $20 million “Retrofit Ramp-Up” award to weatherize thousands of homes and commercial buildings statewide through an expansion of the pilot program Clean Energy Works Portland. “Changing the Climate in Cully” is part of that larger CEWP Program, which has already retrofitted 158 homes in other neighborhoods and has another 228 homes in progress.

In the coming weeks, MACG’s Cully neighborhood volunteers will talk to their neighbors about the project, organizing house parties and community events to bring Cully residents together around this exciting opportunity. Outreach activities will wind down at the end of September, with the 100 home retrofit goal to be reached by December 2010.

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