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County staffer is seeing green

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By The Staff

At the Los Alamos Sustainable Energy Network’s November meeting, Steve Brugger, Housing Program manager with the Los Alamos County Community Development Department described a new and innovative initiative that the County is currently constructing to assist residents with home improvements including energy efficiency upgrades.

In July 2008, the County Council approved a staff proposal to initiate a Housing Rehabilitation Program. The plan would work with county residents to implement a wide range of energy efficiency improvements including heating and hot water systems, insulation and sealing improvements, windows and other building envelope upgrades, including other general home improvements. The County would also assist customers in the development and approval of plans, and arrange for the homeowners a list of qualified contractors to perform the work requested. Additionally, the County would develop low cost financing and grants for qualified households.

While there are many details that still need to be ironed out, this program creates exciting new capabilities for our residents, and a great opportunity for partnership with the conservation program. As previously stated, the Department of Public Utilities’ conservation goals are to support supply and demand-side conservation of water and energy, in order to meet our customers’ current and future needs as well as maintain, enhance, and promote the overall quality of life, and comfort in order to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction. The program would be able to present customers a wider spectrum of conservation improvement options because the County’s Housing Rehabilitation Program offers customers financial options for system upgrades.

Another support service that the utilities could provide is a life cycle cost analysis for conservation upgrades and work that the customer wishes to have completed. Life cycle costing is the economic analysis method that takes into account most of the shortcomings of the payback by calculating the total cost incurred with the ownership of a facility, or the upgrade of equipment over its lifetime. When a customer requests an energy efficiency upgrade, we could estimate the savings that the new measure would realize, and compare it to the cost of the new device.

Therefore, the Housing Rehabilitation Program would not only increase the value of a home, but it would also increase affordability by lowering the operational costs associated with the home. What a great deal!

In conclusion, I look forward to watching this program take shape and utilizing it to benefit our residents, and customers.

In many ways, Community Development Department’s Housing Rehabilitation Program greatly expands the capabilities of the Department of Public Utilities’ conservation program by offering  customers many new conservation options. Indeed, the County of Los Alamos continues to demonstrate innovative and effective leadership approaches that reflect its commitment to sustainability and responsible stewardship.