Energy Upfit Campaign

Solar PanelsThe Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute’s  Energy Upfit Campaign is committed to reducing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions in Western North Carolina (WNC) by increasing the use of  energy efficiency, conservation, and renewables(EECR).   We will develop information resources, and public education and outreach programs, and
create innovative programs to increase the attractiveness of building retrofits.  The campaign has three specific goals:

  1. to connect the citizens of WNC with existing EECR organizations, businesses and programs;
  2. to aid in aligning existing EECR efforts across WNC; and
  3. to catalyze the creation of new  programs and initiatives that address unmet  needs.

The Campaign was launched in March 2011 with the convening of first meeting of the Energy Action Council (EAC) to obtain commitment and action in support of major elements of the Campaign. This session was well-attended by cross-sectoral WNC leaders encompassing the diversity of energy interests in our region, including representatives from the Asheville City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, Progress Energy, AB-Tech, the NC State Energy Office, and the Biltmore Company. The Council is modeled on the highly-successful Community Energy Advisory Council, a two-year effort that provided major input to Progress Energy and resulted in creation of the efficiency and conservation programs now in place.

Based on the input from WNC leaders at the launch of the Energy Action Council, BRSI is focusing the Campaign to address unmet regional EECR needs. These include:

  • building capacity for measuring WNC-wide energy consumption in preparation for setting a regional energy reduction goal,
  • convening a WNC green finance summit,
  • creating comprehensive multi-media content to support the campaign, and
  • developing a residential energy upfit effort.

As part of the Campaign, BRSI has also partnered with the Asheville Independent Restaurants  to obtain funding for major EECR upgrades at 17 local independent restaurants pursuing green certification through the national Green Restaurant Association. This is in direct support of a broader goal of building Asheville into a national green dining destination city. A second phase of the program will focus on using these seventeen restaurants as examples of EECR benefits in training other restaurants to reduce their energy usage.

We are pleased to recognize Conrad Industries, a fifth-generation manufacturing operation in Weaverville, as the Founding Corporate Partner of the Energy Action Council. Additionally, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina has generously provided an Opportunity Grant to support the development of the campaign and the University of North Carolina at Asheville will be providing staff support for community engagement as part of an NC State Energy Office grant they have received from Recovery Act funds.

Campaign leadership includes Campaign Manager Tim Ballard, EAC Steward Steve Cochran, BRSI Executive Director John Stevens, BRSI Principals Tom Hatley and Lenny Bernstein, ABCCM Green Jobs Director Susan Garrett, and AB-Tech Global Institute for Sustainable Technologies Director Jon Snover.