Empower Clarkston was a 2-year job training pilot program that offered energy and water efficiency retrofits for qualified households in the 30021 zip code of Clarkston, Georgia. The goal of Empower Clarkston was to serve and train refugee populations towards green-collar careers and to analyze Clarkston’s electricity, gas, water burdens and income indicators.
The average energy burden nationwide is 3.23% while the average in Clarkston is 7.9% which is considered a high energy burden. Participants in this program had an average energy burden over 10% with some over 15%. Energy burdens of 10% or more are considered severe. Our GEM analysis and maps of these indicators at the census tract level helped guide program leaders to understand which neighborhoods were most impacted by high energy burdens. Clarkston also used GEM to analyze equity indicators across the city such as utility burden, race, housing (evictions, living cost burdens, renter vs. owner), as well as income, health (asthma and lack of health insurance), transportation burden, and internet accessibility.
Using these indicators, Empower Clarkston partnered with Southface, Friends of Refugees, and Tekton Training to develop and deliver training in weatherization to 12 refugees from Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia as well as support with job placement including coaching and resume development. The classroom curriculum consisted of construction safety, building science, combustion safety, air sealing, ducts, insulation, and water efficiency.
The team was able to complete retrofits on 17 residences but the continuation of it was hampered due to the pandemic. They were able to benchmark energy consumption for one apartment using Georgia Power’s Automated Benchmarking Tool (ABT) and with our tableau dashboard, we were able to see a 33% decrease in average energy consumption between 2020 and 2021 for that apartment. The team is working on collecting data from the rest of homes that were weatherized.
Although the pandemic presented the team with many challenges, this program and partnership between Tekton Training, Friends of Refugees, and Southface allowed for hands-on learning and integration opportunities for refugees as well as weatherization and utility data education to residents experiencing high energy burdens.
For more information or to apply for training or home improvements call 678 532 7682 or email EmpowerClarkston@gmail.com.
Image from Empower Clarkston SSCF Final Grant Report