“It’s good for the environment and it’s good for your pocketbook… this is a win-win.”
Mayor John Cranley, City of Cincinnati
Solar power is going mainstream. Our Solarize Cincy campaign is intended to help grow the demand for solar in Greater Cincinnati by getting residents, businesses, and local governments excited about the new, modern solar. Solar prices have dropped 73% in the past 10 years, so we believe now is a great time to help the region understand the benefits solar power can provide.
Our goal is to install 50 new solar projects by the end of June 2016. If each of these 50 projects only installed a very modest solar array of 3 kW, they would collectively:
To make solar even more accessible, we’ve partnered with the city of Cincinnati to offer an incentive to Solarize Cincy participants who are also Cincinnati residents. Under the partnership, city of Cincinnati residents can receive $300 per kW, with a maximum incentive per home of $1,500. Funding is limited and available on a first come first served basis. (Click here to see how we’re doing.)
We launched our campaign on October 1, 2015 in the Duke Energy Go Green Garden at the Cincinnati Zoo. City of Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, Thayne Maynard of the Cincinnati Zoo, and Andy Holzhauser of the Energy Alliance all spoke about the benefits that solar power for homeowners and the region. In addition to a great response from our local media, the event was a great opportunity to bring together the region’s solar influencers, from installers to government leaders, to fellow nonprofit partners.
Below are some pictures from our launch event.
Andy Holzhauser, Energy Alliance:
“We believe the time has come for solar to be an impactful, economically feasible and meaningful energy source for homes in our area. Solar is truly at the tipping point.”
Mayor John Cranley:
“It’s good for the environment and it’s good for your pocketbook… …this is a win-win.”
Thayne Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo:
“It is possible to thrive and live sustainably and solar is a big part of that for the Cincinnati Zoo.”
Attendees at our launch – from left to right: Josh Brooks, Brewster Rhoads, Michael Forrester, Sue Magness, Andy Holzhauser, Dane Ervick, Chris Meyer, Jeremy Faust, Thayne Maynard, Beth Robeson, Josh Moore, Steve Schumacher, Mark Wiley, Mark Fisher, Larry Feist, Toni Winston, Chad Yelton, Yancy Deering, Larry Falkin, and Sophia Cifuentes.
Photos by Brad Robeson
The Cincinnati Multiple Listing Service (MLS) manages housing information for real estate professionals throughout the region. When you search for houses online, all the data about the home, from lot size to number of bedrooms, is tracked by the Cincinnati MLS.
The Cincinnati MLS recently announced an important milestone in the enhancement of local green and energy related home buying tools. Homeowners and their agents are now able incorporate a number of new energy features into the MLS systems via an Energy Efficient/Green Features form.
With this form, a homeowner can identify a comprehensive set of enhancements to a home, including specific building rating information such as LEED ® and Home Energy Score ®. The form is then uploaded into the MLS system and available for prospective homebuyers to review. In addition, the presence of the form is searchable, allowing homeowners interested in energy saving homes to quickly and easily identify where those homes exist. In the years ahead, the MLS team hopes to develop further green resources to enhance the value of local real estate.
Home energy costs are typically greater than the combined costs of homeowners insurance and property taxes, yet there is no easy way to report on and compare a home’s energy value. Home sellers can experience similar frustrations. Those homeowners that have made investments in home energy improvements (such as insulation/air sealing upgrades, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and other elements that can significantly reduce a home’s operating costs), are often unable to recoup their investments when selling due to the inability to effectively communicate these benefits. Incorporating this information into the MLS system is thus crucial in creating value.
National research has identified a growing consumer interest in green  and energy efficient homes. Of more than 120 features rated in the National Association of Home Builders 2012 Annual Survey, energy efficiency now ranks among the top two most wanted features, favored by more than 85 percent of respondents. Indeed, home energy costs can make up a sizeable portion of a homeowner’s annual home expenses. Analysis from the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook highlights that home energy costs are typically larger than either property taxes or homeowners insurance. Yet despite the continued interest from homeowners and the significant cost considerations, there is often limited information available for a home buyer to understand a home’s energy or utility profile.
Studies conducted in markets throughout the country have shown that homes with green features have increased value, transact more quickly, and experience lower rates of foreclosure, compared to similar homes without these features. A 2012 study conducted by a pair of UCLA economists found that green labeled homes were selling for a 9% premium compared to non-labeled homes. A 2013 study from the University of North Carolina Center for Community Capital and the Institute for Market Transformation found a 32% lower risk of default for energy-efficient homes.
Like much of the country, the Cincinnati region has experienced a rapid growth of green rated homes in recent years, exemplified by significant transformation in the new home market. A recent Smart Market Report from McGraw Hill Construction noted that within five years, half of builders expect more than 60% of their new home projects to be green, nearly double the number of firms that are currently building green. ENERGY STAR® has more than 7,800 certified homes in the Cincinnati region, the Energy Alliance has directly supported more than 1,800 home energy upgrades in recent years, and the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) is on pace to continue to rate more than 1,000 regional homes per year. When combined with new market entrants from new home sales, the number of green homes in the regional market is expected to reach a critical mass in the years ahead. Now is a opportune time to take advantage of this growth.
Back in 2013, the Energy Alliance began a community dialogue about the value of energy efficient homes in the Cincinnati market. Studies from across the country had revealed that homes with energy efficiency or other green features are more valuable than there non-energy efficient counterparts. In addition to savings homeowners money, these homes have been shown to increase value by nearly 10%.
The Energy Alliance suspects that similar value exists in the local market and is committed to helping homeowners who have made these investments gain the most value for their homes. To help grow this dialogue, the Energy Alliance joined together with some of the region’s leading voices for energy efficiency, including the City of Cincinnati, Greater Cincinnati’s Green Umbrella network, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Cincinnati Chapter, and Efficiency First Cincinnati.
To test its assumptions and explore options to grow the industry, these partners convened a series of stakeholder discussions that included a diverse array of local real estate agents, appraisers, home builders, planning officials, and mortgage bankers. The purpose of this dialogue was to discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with increasing transparency of green and energy efficient homes. Out of these conversations a consensus began to emerge around the potential value of green homes and the group developed a series of recommendations to the Cincinnati MLS to help incorporate more green building information into the local MLS database.
The Energy Alliance is committed to working with the local real estate community in support of their new initiative. The implementation of green fields will require ongoing training and outreach (among agents, appraisers, homebuyers, and even mortgage bankers) to ensure proper understanding and implementation of these new tools.
The Energy Alliance is committed to working with the Cincinnati MLS and other partners to broadly shre these important new resources and support homeowners seeking to gain value for their homes. The Energy Alliance is in the process of developing a series of training sessions and informational materials to share with homeowners and members of the local real estate community.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact Rob McCracken at the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance: firstname.lastname@example.org
DOWNLOAD THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY/GREEN FEATURES FORM:
 Green homes can include a variety of different features. Most green home certifications focus primarily on a home’s energy usage. Some also include consideration of s home’s indoor air quality, water efficiency, durability, and building materials, among other features.
 National Association of Home Builders Annual Survey (2012).
 Info provided through the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook (2013), the American-Community Survey (2010), and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Annual Homeowner Insurance Report (2010).
 The Value of Green Labels in the California Housing Market (2012). UCLA Environmental Economics Series. Matthew Kahn and Nils Kok. The study included a hedonic pricing analysis of all single-family home sales in California between 2007 and 2012. Study focused on homes labeled with ENERGY STAR, LEED, or Greenpoint Rated, transact for a premium of nine percent relative to otherwise comparable, non-labeled homes.
 Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks (2013). Institute for Market Transformation and UNC Center for Community Capital.
December 15, 2010- Today, the Mt. Washington United Methodist Church (UMC) became the first nonprofit to complete the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA) efficiency program, benefiting from GCEA’s building assessment expertise and receiving a $21,200 dollar grant toward the $40,200 total improvement project. In March of this year, Mt. Washington UMC received a call from the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church about the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance nonprofit program. At the time, GCEA was participating in the Mt. Washington Neighborhood Enhancement Program, in partnership with the City of Cincinnati, and after attending a presentation on March 23rd at McNicholas High School, Mt. Washington UMC signed up when it learned about the new energy saving opportunity available through GCEA.
The first step to becoming energy efficient is learning about the performance and energy consumption of a building. Reverend Rick Riggs, Pastor of Mt. Washington UMC, had an energy assessment with a GCEA approved contractor, Monroe Mechanical, which analyzed energy saving opportunities including lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. In addition to performing a building energy assessment, GCEA’s contractor completed an analysis of energy use over the last three years and found that the forty five year-old Mt. Washington UMC building had numerous energy saving opportunities.
“Because of this grant we will be able to use money that would have gone to our utility bills to instead go to ministry to make a positive difference for Christ in people’s lives.” – Pastor Riggs
With an investment of $40,200 dollars, Mt. Washington UMC could reduce its annual lighting electricity use by 35%, heating use by 25%, and cooling use by 25%. In five years, the combined investment from the Ohio River Valley District of the United Methodist Church and GCEA is expected to be paid off, and Mt. Washington UMC will save an average of $8,000 per year over the life of the installed equipment.
Mt. Washington UMC’s efficiency project initially stalled because it lacked the capital for the remaining project balance. But the church’s luck changed when Pastor Riggs received an email from Galen Mills, a member of the Missions Foundation of the Ohio River Valley District of the United Methodist Church. “Like a gift from God”, explained Pastor Riggs in regards to the donation offered by the Ohio River Valley District of the United Methodist Church, which provides grant money for churches to do various projects. Galen Mills shared his enthusiasm for the project remarking that, “God expects all of us to be good stewards of what He has provided. We are very grateful the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance made it possible for the Missions Foundation to partner with them and the Mt. Washington United Methodist Church to bring about permanent reductions in energy consumption and energy costs.”
The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance brought in Monroe Mechanical to install 125 light fixtures with t-8 fluorescents, replace a twelve year old boiler with a 96% efficient boiler, and exchange outdated air conditioner equipment. Mt. Washington UMC also had incurred expenses in 2010 including the need to replace its roof, change half of the building’s boiler heating piping, install a new A/C unit, a hot water heater, and repair a furnace. The savings from the energy efficiency improvements will also benefit UMC by helping to offset these unexpected expenses.
The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance has teamed up with Ohio Interfaith Power and Light and Artswave (formerly the Fine Arts Fund) to increase energy efficiency for local religious and arts & culture organizations. Andy Holzhauser, Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance and an active member of other nonprofit organizations views the program as an excellent way to support the community. Mr. Holzhauser shared that, “GCEA is committed to helping non-profit organizations reduce their energy costs through education, technical assistance, and financing programs. This frees more resources for their organization’s mission.”
While Mt. Washington UMC’s energy efficiency project will make its facilities more comfortable, more efficient, and at the same time reduce its annual utilities, Pastor Riggs offered a deeper reason for taking action:
“We believe everything comes from God, and we are to be good stewards of everything, especially our resources and the environment.”
Cincinnati – The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA), a local non-profit providing energy efficiency services to residences and non-profits, was named a sub-recipient today of a $100,000 grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency through the city of Cincinnati. The grant, a part of the city’s $500,000 Climate Showcase Communities award, will allow GCEA to help the city’s non-profit organizations lower their energy-related overhead and contribute to the success of the Green Cincinnati Action Plan.
“This award supports GCEA’s ability to provide energy-saving education, project management, and innovative financing solutions to area non-profits, a sector that has been traditionally hard to reach,” said Andy Holzhauser, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. “Local non-profits should be able to use their scarce funding to support their mission, and every dollar we can help them save on their energy bills is another dollar that goes into their programs.”
The Green Cincinnati Action Plan aims to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 8% by 2012, or 2% annually. It provides the additional benefits of creating jobs, conserving scarce natural resources, saving money, enhancing the local economy, and improving air quality and public health.
“This funding will provide a tremendous boost to fulfilling the vision and programs in the Green Cincinnati Action Plan” – Larry Falkin, director of the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environmental Quality
Being named a Climate Showcase Community cements Cincinnati’s status as a national leader on sustainability and climate protection. Only 20 communities received the grant out of a pool of 450 applicants. The Green Cincinnati Action Plan will be used by EPA as an example of municipal “best practices” in promoting sustainability.