The Community Weatherization Coalition (CWC) is a grassroots community coalition made up of citizens, religious leaders, and NGO’s concerned about Alachua County citizens spending a large percentage of their income on home energy bills. Our mission is to improve home weatherization and energy efficiency for low-income households through education, volunteer work projects, and community-building.
The CWC developed over several years, starting with the faith-based community and evolving into a collaboration of nonprofit, government, faith-based, business, and university partners working together to address an unmet need within Alachua county.
CWC’s story began in 2005 when church members in Gainesville, Florida reported paying $300-500 each month for utilities. For some, this amount was 25% of their income. Recognizing that this energy burden seemed higher than average, local church leaders affiliated with Action Network reached out to Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) to hold a public meeting at Springhill Missionary Baptist Church. After looking into the concerns, six regional agencies revealed that they were receiving an average of 250 calls per month, or an equivalent of 18,000 residents a year, requesting assistance with their utility bills.
The United Church of Gainesville (UCG) reached out to a local critical home repair organization, Rebuilding Gainesville (now Rebuilding Together North Central Florida, RTNCF), to request the development of an energy audit program that would assist Alachua county residents decrease their energy burden and monthly utility bills. Volunteers were trained by local professionals and began performing home energy audits for the homes receiving RTNCF’s home renovation and repair assistance in 2007.
Members of this newly formed coalition met monthly and systematically worked to resolve a series of questions and issues. By October of 2007, a committee structure was developed with a Case Management Committee, a Volunteer Operations Committee and a Fund-Raising/Development Team. A small, representative Executive Committee defined the CWC Mission, Goals and logo, and signed the first memorandum of understanding with GRU.
In 2008, grants and donations allowed the CWC to hire a part-time Volunteer Coordinator and to begin operations. CWC’s first 23 volunteer energy auditors were trained by February of 2008, and bi-annual trainings were held twice yearly from 2008-2011 to continue to train and develop volunteers. A loss of funding and of key personnel caused a decline in activity from 2012-2013. Since early 2015 the CWC renewed its activities with a full-time Program Coordinator, a small volunteer Executive Committee, and an Advisory Board with representatives from key partners.
In 2016, the CWC received a two-year Demonstration of Energy-Efficient Developments (DEED) grant through GRU from the American Public Power Association. The grant supports continuous improvements to the CWC home energy audit process using community-based social marketing methods, and quantitative measurements of the impacts of CWC audits on home energy and water usage.