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  • Celebrating Founders Day!

    At Greenlink Analytics, we believe everyone should have access to clean energy, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Our work in and for communities impacts important energy decisions across the nation. We equip the communities we serve with data, analytics, and expert advice to ensure a more equitable distribution of energy resources. Those impacts speak directly to our core values and are the foundation for Greenlink as an organization. We are a passionate group who wants to do good using our expertise to impact positive change. The Greenlink Analytics we know today started back in 2014 with our founders, two PhD students at Georgia Tech - Caroline Golin and Matt Cox - developing a superior technology for analyzing energy systems and an inspiring vision for the future. The vision – a fast and fair clean energy transition – is why Greenlink exists today, and why we celebrate Founders Day! In the nine years since inception, Greenlink has made huge strides in terms of vision and impact. Much of our work begins with an initial analysis or report that informs large results over time. Take for example when Greenlink worked with like minded partners in Virginia to analyze the pathways toward a fairer, fully decarbonized energy grid. This was a project back in 2019. However, the Governor’s office used this detailed scenario evaluation to guide the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which became law in 2020. Another example starts in 2016 when Greenlink testified on behalf of equity and faith-based communities for the creation of a first-of-its-kind Income Qualified Energy Efficiency program by Georgia Power. The program would provide income-eligible customers free energy-efficiency home improvements. The Georgia Public Service Commission agreed with the testimony, and Georgia power was ordered to create a $2 million pilot program. With Greenlink’s continued engagement in 2019 and 2022, this program has more than tripled in size, helping thousands of energy burdened families in the state. To date, Greenlink has identified pathways to avoid 8.4 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions. We have worked with cities and states to find $757 billion in savings for communities. Our clean energy and community research has identified ways to save over 20,000 lives. And we have implemented over 90 equitable processes, which means engaging and allowing communities who have historically been silenced to receive data and therefore guide policy decisions due to their specific needs and vision. Our incredible team is at the heart of this work. More than anything, Greenlink wants to thank our people for all they do to achieve a cleaner and more just world. We see you. We applaud you. We are inspired by our accomplishments so far, and those still to come.

  • Disadvantaged Communities Tool

    A Way to Find, Measure, and Access Funding Environmental justice has come a long way since its inception alongside the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Once a novel term and concept is now a full-fledged movement influencing people in power, including the Federal Government. In 2021, the Biden Administration created the Justice40 Initiative to ensure that federal agencies make good on environmental justice by delivering 40% of the investments in climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other projects to disadvantaged communities. A community qualifies as “disadvantaged” if a census tract measures above the threshold for environmental, climate, and socioeconomic indicators. Yet, one of the challenges in executing Justice40 is finding the communities who are most in need of these investments, and directly streamlining funds to them. A new indicator within the Greenlink Equity Map helps make this possible and — dare we say — easy. Our disadvantaged communities indicator comes from the federal Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), which identifies communities that face disproportionate burdens. The tool computes a stack of socioeconomic and environmental statistics for every census tract in the country. These metrics include income, whether it is near legacy pollution sites, and has a high projected flood or fire risk. There are numerous reasons we wanted to include this layer of data within the Greenlink Equity Map (aka GEM). With billions of investment dollars available through the American Rescue Plan, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the IRA, it’s an important moment to get right. This means ensuring that these disadvantaged communities need to be easy to identify. It also means understanding community burdens at a deeper level. By including disadvantaged-community data in GEM, people can now concurrently measure other burdens communities face, including heat intensity, asthma rates, energy burden, tree cover, etc. Burdens sometimes cluster in eye opening ways revealing the inextricable connections between the environment, human health, and the cost of living. This is a highly efficient and manageable way to look at a multitude of factors affecting communities without having to have multiple windows and websites open. Finally, any federal funding opportunities need to be paired with community engagement to paint a better picture of where the financial efforts should be focused. The disadvantaged communities indicator can help start the discussion of where local programs should focus. Click to book a demo and see the Greenlink Equity Map's disadvantaged communities layer in action.

  • “Unlikely Partnerships… Cool, But How?”

    Guiding Co-creation Processes with Environmental Justice Communities At the beginning of the year, our very own Greenlink Analytics, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), a state agency that manages wildlife resources, and LivZero, a participatory research firm that works with community members to co-create climate solutions, joined in alliance to help facilitate a community-led conservation initiative in Kansas City, Missouri. In the early days of 2022, MDC approached LivZero to build intellectual, financial, and personnel capacity for the creation of their Community Conservation Liaison Program — a community-driven initiative aimed to increase environmental safekeeping in Kansas City’s Tier I or environmental justice communities. It took a year for the procurement process to be finalized, after which the team got to work. LivZero first approached Greenlink Analytics to help inform their community engagement process and assess conservation needs through a holistic lens. Together, they conducted a correlational analysis to better understand the relationship between multiple burdens, such as utility burden, asthma rates, tree canopy coverage, and heat intensity, plaguing Kansas City’s communities. The analysis outlined the census tracts and neighborhoods struggling with three or more inequities in the top 5%, or most burdened areas, as published in this report. With this information, LivZero began prioritizing and investing their efforts in these neighborhoods. LivZero has deep relationships with MDC and Greenlink Analytics. Collectively, it is an unlikely alliance of a nonprofit, a for-profit, and a federal government entity with similar goals to address the intersecting burdens of historically forgotten, marginalized, and disinvested communities of the Kansas City, Missouri Metropolitan Area. The intent of this alliance is to address the harm frontline communities (ones that experience the “first and worst” consequences of climate change) face by their already unjust conditions further exacerbated by the climate crisis. Each institution has agreed to take the back seat, let the community lead, and surrender any assumptions of what the community wants and needs. With the right mix of trust, data science, community engagement, and public interest, data can be used in a way that sincerely enables ecological safekeeping, especially benefiting communities that endure the most burdens…and that just happen to benefit everyone else, too. With the right mix of trust, data science, community engagement, and public interest, data can be used in a way that sincerely enables ecological safekeeping, especially benefiting communities that endure the most burdens. By working together, we hope to create a new partnership and community engagement model that can be replicated across all of MDC’s regions, setting the precedent for other state entities looking to join forces with community partners, while showing the influence data analytics, used earnestly, can have on community-driven program and policy design. There is much work to be done. We are committed to iterative processes. Building these unlikely alliances across various entities that aim to address community priorities and needs takes time. They are rooted in trust, calculated risks, and the art of listening. And that’s just what we need. We cannot operate in silos and expect systemic improvements. For more information, please reach out to Angelica (Jellie) Chavez Duckworth, Director of Community Initiatives at Greenlink Analytics.

  • Tampa's 100% Clean Municipal Energy Plan

    In 2021, the City of Tampa pledged to power its municipal operations using 100% clean and renewable energy, which includes solar, energy efficiency and renewable energy credits (RECs). Their goal is to combat the climate crisis and embrace the rapidly changing energy landscape in a practical and methodical manner to improve the city’s sustainability and residents' wellbeing. But the City needed a plan for how to get there. That’s where Greenlink Analytics comes in. City of Tampa and Applied Sciences, an engineering and design firm, requested that Greenlink analyze the city’s current and future energy use, along with its various energy-related programs, to develop realistic pathways to 100% clean energy. City operations. The report examines and highlights cleaning the electricity sector first by identifying where the City is going (Business As Usual) and two approaches to get the City to where it needs: Moderate, and Ambitious. "For the first time, the city now knows how much energy it uses - and the cost of that energy – across hundreds of accounts,” said Whit Remer, Sustainability and Resilience Officer for the City of Tampa. “Greenlink also provided realistic and flexible options to achieve 100% renewable energy based on time, cost, and reliance on RECs.” Here’s a quick rundown of the City’s possible energy future. The Business as Usual future, means the city wouldn’t make any changes to energy use or infrastructure and that electricity consumption will grow by 14% between 2022 and 2042, emitting 1,800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The Moderate future finds that 50% of municipal operations would be run by clean and renewable energy by 2042 and would require 26% less grid electricity than business as usual. It would mean implementing a number of energy efficiency and renewable initiatives the City is already considering, such as installing solar at multiple facilities, upgrading the city’s high service pump station, completing half of the HVAC upgrades identified for commercial buildings, and LED retrofits and energy efficient window installations. The price tag for the most cost-effective energy savings options would be about $34 million. The Ambitious future finds that municipal operations would achieve 85% clean and renewable energy by 2042 and would require 54% less grid electricity than business as usual. It would mean implementing all HVAC upgrades, energy efficient window retrofits, and LEF light retrofits, as well as solar installs and high-performance roofing. The price tag for the most cost-effective energy savings options would be about $75 million. Overall, the report shows that Tampa is well positioned to reach its goal of 100 %clean energy. Though none of the pathways get the City all the way there without the use of RECs, the widespread adoption of renewables and energy efficiency measures can get the city most of the way there within the next 20 years. That would be a huge accomplishment. Read the full report: Tampa's 100% Clean and Renewable Municipal Energy Plan.

  • A Clean Energy Fund Would Boost Equity in Atlanta

    By Matt Cox, CEO and Founder Greenlink Analytic There’s a little-known crisis happening in Atlanta right now: thousands of people are struggling to remain in their homes due to the unforgiving cost of their electricity and gas bills. This doesn’t play out well for the residents of Atlanta, the resilience and vibrancy of the city, or the city’s ability to reach its clean energy goals. And the bottom line is that the failure to address the root cause of high energy bills is stressing families and disrupting communities. “When your rent gets higher by $300 and your utilities go up an extra $300, you will lose your home,” said Wykeisha Howe, who co-chaired Atlanta’s Clean Energy Advisory Board with me through 2022, in a recent interview. And Howe would know, because it happened to her family when the pandemic hit and inflation soared. It would be easy to blame the problem on a lack of climate action and the need to regulate monopoly utilities like Georgia Power (which do need more vigorous efforts), but the issue is more complex and disconcerting. This is an issue of whose energy is affordable and whose isn’t. It’s about who is able to access clean energy and enjoy its financial, health, and environmental benefits. Peel back the rhetoric and clear up the confusion, and you’ll find a situation where climate policy, racial justice, sustainability, healthcare, economic development, and affordable housing meet. The direction of the status quo is increasingly burdening the lives of Atlantans - but we don’t have to accept that. Right now, an opportunity sits in the hands of City of Atlanta decision makers that could improve the lives of people like Wykeisha Howe, and thousands of other residents who bear the brunt of outsized utility bills. It’s called the Clean Energy Fund. And it’s a team effort trying to take this from vision to reality, involving Partnership for Southern Equity, City Council Member Liliana Bakhtiari, and Clean Energy Advisor Board members to name a few. As the CEO of Greenlink Analytics, I want to see the Fund established since it would provide essential, sustainable, and impactful funding for helping Atlanta meet its 100% Clean Energy goal by 2035, especially by providing the necessary support for easing energy burdens and improving housing conditions excessively borne by the city’s Black communities. And with the Fund being locally controlled, it can be responsive to the changing needs of our communities. I believe that passing this equity-improving legislation is an easy way to direct funding towards improving the health, housing, and energy burdens disproportionately affecting Black communities in Atlanta. This approach requires no new taxes and could sustain and grow the effectiveness of existing energy efficiency and weatherization programs. Atlanta is one of the top five most energy burdened cities in the country, and it has been for as long as those statistics have been tracked. Over 40 predominantly Black neighborhoods experience the greatest stress, while no predominantly White neighborhoods are even in the top third. Highly-burdened households suffer higher rates of eviction, foreclosure, displacement, asthma, stroke, diabetes, and pulmonary disease. Overlapping Energy Burden with the Proportion of Black Households (top) and Asthma Rates (bottom). Images from the Greenlink Equity Map ( These same households are also less likely to benefit from utility programs and resources. While energy burden is a measure of affordability, it’s also a canary in the coal mine for the multifold unjust hardships caused by systemic racism. Cutting energy burden entails providing dollars, relief, and attention directly towards the people and communities who suffer the most. It’s also a tremendous chance to build health and wealth. “There are a lot of people who live in this city whose homes are not up to par and their bills are so high because they don’t have the proper insulation, windows, or even hot water,” said Howe over the phone. “Funds like these will be instrumental and would change some lives, and then these families would see just a little relief.” Here’s how the Clean Energy Fund would work. Utilities (read: power, gas, and telecommunications companies) currently pay a 4% fee in exchange for using the city’s public rights of way. This is called the “municipal franchise fee.” Since Atlanta energy utilities make about $1 billion annually from Atlanta residents and businesses, that’s approximately $40 million that goes back into City coffers, which could be channeled towards clean energy programs. The Fund would use a percentage of this money to finance weatherization, energy efficiency, health, and safety in the most energy burdened homes. It would be a sustainable and ongoing source of revenue that the City has control over, providing much-needed flexibility in program design and implementation. Greenlink crunched some preliminary numbers on the impact of the Fund using our advanced energy systems software ATHENIA. With about 10% of the fee revenues, we estimate that the Fund could help 4,000 families, support 1,100 jobs, provide about $65 million in new income and $26 million in health benefits through 2035. It would also avoid about 470,000 tons of CO2. A higher percentage of the fee would increase these benefits. This would be much-needed action for Atlanta’s most energy-burdened communities and work towards shared goals of energy and housing equity. It’s also just a start. Atlanta needs about $350 to $400 million to achieve energy affordability, and more funding opportunities are being announced every day as investments from the Inflation Reduction Act and other Federal programs roll out. Efforts like the Clean Energy Fund will assist with stemming the increasing cost of electricity and gas bills and help address intersectional issues of housing insecurity and healthcare, aiding in repairing and replacing social structures that have placed so many burdens on Atlanta’s Black population. Atlanta’s crisis of Black displacement.

  • Launching: The Native Lands Mapping Tool

    For too long Native American communities have not only been excluded from conversations about gathering and use of data, but also from placement on the world map. On June 22, 2023, Greenlink Analytics’ new digital mapping tool will make it easier to locate and understand Native territories in the U.S. The tool places 326 reservations and approximately 574 federally recognized sovereign American Indian and Alaska Native tribes into the Greenlink Equity Map (GEM), which illustrates the intersections between health, housing and environmental inequities. The aim is to strengthen Native Communities' voices as a part of a deeper conversation around providing resources and strengthening collaboration on climate action. “Advancing equitable environmental solutions needs to include Mother Earth’s original stewards.” says Greenlink’s Director of Community Initiatives Angelica Chavez Duckworth. To develop the Native Nations map, Greenlink used the public data set known as Native Land Digital, which provides people the ability to look at historical territories, and recent census data that includes most federally and state recognized tribes. The combination appears in the map tool as a visual and interactive way to view historical and present day native lands at the state and federal level. Data sovereignty refers to ethical and legal guidelines for ensuring that individuals, or groups, maintain control and governance of their own information. This includes collection, storage and interpretation of that data. As a data informed, community driven organization, we believe it is critical that we learn from and collaborate with Native peoples to share data and find solutions to environment and equity issues together. What became clear while researching and developing the tool is that large gaps currently exist in census tract data (read our blog on the topic here), making it even more important to share the data and begin engaging with Native Nations to move forward. Our organization recognizes we have a lot to learn about how to collaborate with communities in a way that heals past and current harms. To do this we are launching a listening tour in the second half of this year where we will interview a diversity of Native communities, organizational leaders, and organizations to deepen our understanding of their needs and desires. The design and information within our mapping tools, such as GEM, are contingent upon the feedback we receive, ensuring the development remains relevant to the experiences of our communities and provide them with the data they need to back their initiatives, especially in the context of an equitable clean energy transition. This Native Lands indicator is that first step as a tool for social change and can encourage deep, honest conversations. If you’re interested in learning more about the mapping tool or receiving a demo click here. If you're already a GEM member, check out the indicator by signing in as usual. We hope you will join us on this journey.

  • Our Missing Native Nations

    Native territories are essentially invisible on U.S. maps. How did we get here? How can better data help? (Part 1) Shé:kon (say-go) from the Greenlink Equity Team, which means hello in Kanien'kehá, one of the languages of the Mohawks. The Mohawks live in communities across northern New York State and southeastern Canada and have called these lands home for thousands of years before colonization. They’re one of 574 federally recognized Native Nations across the U.S. striving for continued recognition of their people and safekeeping of their cultures. Looking at a map of the United States, Native territories are essentially invisible. Yet, these nations and people are very much alive and present with a diversity of cultures, languages, and knowledge in spite of enduring the tyranny of genocide, cultural erasure, displacement, and forced assimilation. As data scientists, we know that invisibility can foster misinformation. And as environmental and equity researchers, [Apsaalooke/Crow boy riding a horse*] we understand that our country’s history has harmed and muted Indigenous peoples and their narratives. The Greenlink Equity Team believes in advancing a safer, healthier, and more just world. This starts with accurate information about all people, especially those who have been muted. That’s why we’re working to raise the visibility of Native Nations by helping fill the gaps in missing data. At this point the data has many holes. Unfortunately, traditional methods of research have warped people’s understanding of the country’s Native cultures due to innate biases. These limitations damage the way people view and talk about Native communities, and cause harm to Native identity. These biases bleed into research today. Take for example, the census, which is extremely limiting when it comes to understanding and describing Indigenous communities. First, remember the 574 tribes we mentioned earlier? That number only includes the Federally recognized tribes. Yet, there are many more tribes across the country not counted in that stat due to how the federal government “recognizes” these Nations. Second, the census data is collected on a binary spectrum of race that erroneously limits the question to, “Are you Native or not?” Many Native people today have a mixed heritage due to colonization and are forced to identify themselves inaccurately. Additionally, the census data is limited in how it describes Native individuals, again providing only two options to define who you are: “American Indian and Alaska Native” or “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.” There are no options for each distinct nation, whether it be Mohawk, Ho’Chunk, Pawnee, etc. That’s similar to describing the continent of Asia or Africa as one country. Third, the degree of Native ancestry necessary for being considered Native varies from Nation to Nation. Some look at the “blood quantum” (the amount of Indian blood an individual has), while others recognize heritage through oral tradition. There’s a range depending on the Nations, especially because not all Natives live on reservations or within their native lands today. A good narrative on this can be found in There There by Tommy Orange, where he gives readers historical context while telling stories of fictional Native characters struggling with their identity in Oakland, Ca today. “Without accurate and current data for Native Communities, how are we going to protect our people? Our ways?” said Samantha Houck, equity assistant for Greenlink Analytics and Urban Mohawk. “We won’t be telling our stories, nor will we be guiding the funding that comes into where our communities want and need it.” While accurate information about Native Nations is vital for better understanding the diverse voices and cultures in our country, Indigenous knowledge can also help solve some of the largest problems we face today, like climate change. Indigenous communities have maintained ancestral values and practices that we can turn to for enduring solutions. One is the practice of controlled burns to promote soil fertility for agriculture. Healthy soil stores more CO2, so it’s not only good for crops but also good for mitigating climate change. But much more knowledge and information exists, but has yet to be heard and shared. Data in today's world is a tool for social and environmental change. There has to be accurate, accessible, and available data on Native Nations. And this data needs to be led and collaborated with Native communities. The Greenlink team has begun our journey towards this commitment by creating a Native Boundary mapping tool that will be released later this month. More information will be coming soon. *Photo courtesy of Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Hernandez

  • Empowering People in Clarkston and Beyond.

    When Malek came to Clarkston, Georgia, in 2016, he didn’t know that one day he would be helping the community where he first landed. Clarkston is frequently referred to as the “most ethnically diverse square mile in America” with its approximately 14,000 residents — 43% of which are refugees or foreign born, and 32% African American. Malek Alarmash left Syria for the US seeking safety and a place to use and grow his skills being a people person. He is now the program manager for Empower Clarkson, a green efficiency training program that’s a collaboration between Tekton Career training and Greenlink Analytics. The program utilizes American Rescue Plan grant funding to teach participants how to become technicians that renovate and incorporate energy-efficient upgrades to existing homes, apartments, and other residences. This includes insulation, window and door sealants that reduce air and heat leaks, and making sure air ducts are properly sealed. For every person that gets trained, a home gets upgraded with efficiency measures. The upgrades are free to homeowners, and participants have seen a 33% decrease in their energy and electricity bills, or by about $700 dollars annually. “I enjoy the happiness and the excitement of the homeowner and the students when either a home gets insulated or a student graduates,” says Malek. “I love helping people.” Empower Clarkston began in 2019 and has trained 40 technicians and updated 40 homes across Dekalb County thus far. When the current funding cycle ends, a total of 60 homes will have been updated and 69 people trained. “If I had had the option, I would go to every single home in Dekalb County, but the funds are very limited to how much we can do,” says Malek. “The small impact we’re having right now is very scalable and could be done anywhere in the country.” One of program’s challenges if finding the homes where upgrades would have the highest impact. That means lower-income families with high energy burdens. Right now, Empower Clarkston’s using the GEM app to locate these heavily energy burdened homes. Energy burden is a measure of affordability. It’s the percentage of a household’s income spent on electricity and gas bills; in the United States, an energy burden of three or four percent is typical. An energy burden greater than six percent of income is considered high, while those greater than 10 percent are severe. “The more we’re wasting energy, the more carbon we’re sending into the air, and the more someone is paying for their energy bills,” says Malek. “Our small impact might affect the greater impact of the environmental movement.”

  • Sierra Club Florida - Energy Burden Partnership

    In 2022, the Florida Chapter of Sierra Club requested that Greenlink analyze the energy burden of four cities in the sunshine state – Orlando, Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Tampa to provide foundational data for energy policy impacts. Energy burden is a measure of affordability. It’s the percentage of a household’s income spent on electricity and gas bills; in the United States, an energy burden of three or 4% is typical. An energy burden greater than 6% of income is considered high, while those greater than 10% are severe. Over the past three years Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign that aims to replace all coal power plants with clean energy. Having good data provides insights on where things stand the communities most affected by energy policies. Greenlink undertook an in-depth analysis of the intersections between energy, health, and housing inequities across all four cities to reveal how those paying unfair amounts on utility bills face an onslaught of other issues that perpetuate poverty. Two of the reports have been published so far – Orlando’s in February 2023 and one month later, Jacksonville’s. The Orlando Report found that communities in western and southwestern Orlando pay about 130% more of their monthly income on energy bills than the national average. The Jacksonville report found that all neighborhoods experiencing the highest energy burdens are predominantly Black and/or African American communities. “People pay for utilities before they pay for most other things,” says Sharanya Madhavan, a data scientist for Greenlink Analytics. “The research shows us that people with high energy burdens are more likely to skip meals, not fill prescriptions, and prioritize utility bills over rent or mortgage payments, placing them at a higher risk of eviction and foreclosure.” Many circumstances can contribute to these unaffordable bills, including unhealthy housing conditions, income inequality, and lack of access to opportunities and the levers of power and information that drive policy change. People who experience higher energy burdens also frequently have higher rates of heat stress, asthma, chronic heart disease, and mental health challenges. The simple truth is it doesn’t have to be this way. We can intentionally repair the legacy issues that lead to this unfair playing field. The key is having accurate data and using this to jumpstart conversations with communities, policy makers, utilities. This can lead to addressing energy burden and providing people the opportunity to climb the economic ladder, all while transitioning to clean energy options.

  • The Importance of Trust: How Community Engagement Helped Pass Legislation in Decatur

    “Everything’s greater in Decatur,” says the City of Decatur, Ga., motto. The maxim represents a city that prides itself on walkability, good schools, vibrant small businesses, community collaboration and pioneering innovation. But like many cities around the country, Decatur, Ga., grapples with how to best integrate climate change solutions into practicable policy as the area warms. Residents experienced an average of 20 days above 95 °F in the last 30 years and are expected to see that number increase to more than 90 days by 2050. This story is about how data informed community engagement helped Decatur develop and approve a Clean Energy Plan. The plan details pathways to eliminating all its government and community carbon emissions by 2035, and the remaining community uses, such as home electricity use and transportation, by 2050. “The vision for Decatur is to do its part in the clean energy transition, support our peer communities in the transition, come together for systemic grid level change, and create a healthier, more resilient, equitable and more affordable community,” says David Nifong, Energy and Sustainability Manager, City of Decatur. “It will definitely require all of us.” The city needed a plan grounded in data and backed by community buy-in to make the vision a reality. That’s where Southface Institute and Greenlink Analytics’ partnership launched this reality. Greenlink utilized their computer modeling tool, Advanced Clean Energy Scenario (ACES), to analyze Decatur’s building stock, energy fuel mix, greenhouse gas inventory, and means of transportation and forecast changes in energy through 2050. Southface then presented the data through roundtables, surveys, stakeholder interviews, and a two-day in-person charrette (integrated planning session) to drum up enduring support. “The essential component is that enduring support,” says Robert Reed, advisor for Southface Institute. “Gather a set of experts behind a wall and they could come up with the most expeditious solution to reducing emissions,” he continues, “But what happened instead is that through community we heard that the social impact of the plan needed to be weighed heavily and placed at the forefront.” Hearing from the community changed the trajectory of Decatur’s plan. Feedback guided the city toward a scenario entitled Social and Local Impact: a pathway that leads to the highest public health and job benefits. The "Social and Local Impact Scenario" calls for a cumulative investment of $57 million in clean energy over the period of the goal, reaping cumulative benefits of $520 million and avoiding nearly 1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. Why is this important? In 2020, the median income for a white household in Decatur was about 480% greater than the median income for Black households. This disparity extends to levels of education and the number of households that rely on nutrition assistance, meaning that when a community starts to find savings in energy bills, it means the families who couldn’t afford their electricity or utility bills are now able to pay their bills and the extra money can now go towards education, food and other basic necessities. In summary, community engagement helps build healthier neighborhoods from the very foundation because they are able to point out their needs in a way that targets systemic repair and long term solutions. The City of Decatur’s Clean Energy Plan was unanimously adopted in September 2022. Photos courtesy of City of Decatur, Ga.

  • Greenlink Analytics' 2022 Annual Report

    Greenlink is pleased to announce publication of the Annual Report, showcasing the amazing things our team achieved in 2022. Climate change continues to be a major topic in the news and people’s lives, from record breaking heat to new federal climate policies and clean energy triumphs. While climate change is a global challenge, not all communities bear the brunt equally. In the U.S., non-white and lower income communities experience the greatest health, economic, and environmental risks. If the choices of policymakers don’t embrace and uphold these communities, we won’t achieve the decarbonized future we need - and in that case, they’re not sustainable to begin with. Our challenge, our daily work, is to ensure that the clean energy transition takes place as intentionally and as promptly as possible. Our analyst, data science and equity teams work hard to provide the foundational data, analyses, context and guidance to make this happen. Click to read the Greenlink Analytics 2022 Annual Report. "When we cannot predict the outcome of a person’s life because of a race, gender, or where they’re from, we will have succeeded." ~ Greenlink Analytics

  • New Report Finds Orlando’s Lower Income Communities Face High Energy Burden

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 21st, 2023 Media Contacts: Ricky Junquera, Robynne Boyd, LINK TO REPORT New Report Finds Orlando’s Lower Income Communities Face High Energy Burden Western and Southwestern Orlando communities pay about 130% more of their monthly income on energy bills than the national average. ORLANDO, FL - A new report out today from Greenlink Analytics shows a large disparity between the energy burden faced by different communities across Orlando, from a low of 1.8% to as high as 9.2%. Energy burden is the percent of income spent on electricity and gas bills. The national average of the percentage of household earnings going towards energy costs is roughly 4%. "It’s crystal clear that we must take action to end the disparities between low-income communities, experiencing more than twice that of the national average, and their affluent neighbors who spend less than four times the energy burden,” said Susan Glickman of the Florida Clinicians for Climate Action. “It's an injustice that requires strong action. We must both increase awareness to protect health and also move concrete solutions to upgrade substandard housing, expand weatherization efforts, provide cooling centers, and identify other adaptive measures." On Thursday, February 23rd at the University of Central Florida’s Downtown Campus, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign is hosting an Energy Equity Summit along with the Hispanic Federation, Alianza Center, The Cleo Institute, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, NAACP, Florida Rising, Florida Clinicians for Climate Action, and The Climate Reality Project aimed at discussing the intersectionality of energy burden to housing affordability and health impacts. From the report: “Energy burden is not a stand-alone issue. The financial strains associated with the energy burden express a history of socioeconomic conditions that continue to negatively plague communities today. The data show that Orlando’s energy burdens have shown a moderate relationship to chronic health issues, such as asthma and poor mental health. Additionally, Orlando’s energy burden has primarily impacted renter-occupied households versus owner-occupied households. Understanding the interconnectedness of health, housing, and energy issues helps reveal energy burden as part of greater structural injustice, and why a pattern of communities facing a cluster of challenges all at once continues to present over time.” “Greenlink undertook an in-depth analysis of the intersections between energy, health, and housing inequities to reveal how those paying unfair amounts on utility bills face an onslaught of other issues that perpetuate poverty,” said Greenlink Analytics’ Director of Community Initiatives, Angelica Chavez-Duckworth. “This means that addressing energy burden could provide people the opportunity to climb the economic ladder.” Background: Over the past three years, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign has worked with the Hispanic Federation, Alianza Center, The Cleo Institute, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, NAACP, Florida Rising, Clinicians for Climate Action, The Climate Reality Project, and others to combat fuel cost rate hikes along with utility shut-offs that have directly harmed lower-income communities across Orlando. The Energy Equity Summit brings communities together to discuss the interconnectedness of these issues, and prepare themselves to organize to push to combat these issues. ### About the Sierra Club The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit

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