Equity and Energy Collaboration


This project provides a library of resource materials that address the issues, challenges and opportunities of energy equity for our low income communities.

In 2016, SSDN began a collaboration with the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) and the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE). This project, funded by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network’s (USDN) Innovation Fund, focused on building capacity of SSDN members to integrate meaningful equity considerations into their implementation of municipal sustainability policies and practices, particularly in energy efficiency programming.

Through this joint project, the cohort of participating SSDN members worked together through a face-to-face training workshop in April 2016 and monthly calls for the remainder of the year to build a learning and support community. The culminating activity for the project was the creation of a curated toolkit of web-based content to aid SSDN members in this work, which would serve as a library and roadmap for local government staff – those just orienting themselves to the conversation and navigating the wealth of content available, as well as those seeking to deepen or refine their existing efforts.

Understanding Energy Equity

Our energy systems today were built within and upon other economic and social systems in which people of color and vulnerable communities have not been equal and empowered stakeholders. Building your understanding of disparities today requires background on these other systems and the rules that limited benefit and concentrated harm for vulnerable communities. Through these resource links, you will better understand how we got to the current state of inequity, learn key terms and concepts in the growing conversations around equity, explore different approaches to measuring equity, and view examples from other cities of communications (for internal and external stakeholders) about their equity efforts.

The realities today of energy equity

How we got here and realities today

This section explores the challenges and circumstances that have brought about the current state experienced by low wealth citizens and communities. It also includes information about the resources currently available to serve these communities, and the specific health impacts that have resulted from exposure to energy-inefficient homes and buildings.






Terms and Concepts

Building a shared vocabulary with your internal and external stakeholders is a first step in any new conversation, particularly one likely to be approached with some discomfort. This section will help you learn a basic understanding of terms used in conversations around equity.




How we measure energy equity

Once you have a sense of how we got here and what vocabulary to use in discussing equity implications of your work, your conversations will no doubt lead to the question “how do we measure equity?” In this section, you will find a compilation of thinking around equity measurement from a number of different organizations who have given great thought and research to the question.




How we communicate energy equity

With some foundational concepts and language under your belt, and perhaps some preliminary conversations underway, you will ultimately need to communicate to both internal leaders and external partners what you are doing and why. This section provides a few examples from other cities as well as a template for you to borrow from and make your own.RAISING EQUITY AWARENESS:
Videos of PSE/SEEA Equity in Energy Efficiency Training – April 5-6, 2016


Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas

Fayetteville Civil Rights Commission

Sample Communications



Best Practices

Your local government is positioned to create policy and programming that addresses past inequities and creates a more equitable future. Now what do you do about it? How do you start to frame your efforts to fit your unique context and be most effective?This section will give you a scan of the landscape, particularly focusing on the southeast U.S., and allow you to learn best practices being used. 2016 saw the release of volumes of outstanding new relevant research – we provide you with these full reports that are well-worth your read, as well as thumbnail overviews that can help you focus on those of most current relevance to you. Key findings from each report are woven together in these decks to get you started.

Other Southeastern Examples and Resources: City of Nashville, Tennessee
Cities of Service Blueprint for using volunteers to conduct energy retrofits for low-income homes; Other Cities of Service Blueprints
Hands on Nashville’s Home Energy Savings programs that use the Cities of Service Blueprint

Resources from ACEEE:

The City Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Local Energy Efficiency Self-Scoring Tool, Version 3.0

State and Local Policy Database

ACEEE and EEFA report, Lifting the High Energy Burden in America’s Largest Cities: How Energy Efficiency Can Improve Low-Income and Underserved Communities

Resources on energy efficiency and health

How does energy efficiency create jobs?

The City Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Resources for running low-income energy efficiency programs

Resources for running multifamily energy efficiency programs

Compilations of practices

What elements are essential to creating effective partnerships, programs and policies? Where can you find analyses of different approaches? What makes models different? Who is doing what? This section looks across the landscape at approaches, then provides an overview of five models, based on strong partnerships, neighborhoods as scale, job training at their core, working at the multifamily scale, and using innovative finance as a driver.




Strong partnerships

Efficiency VT’s extensive work around delivery of energy efficiency services for low-income communities is summarized here.


Neighborhoods as scale

Massachusetts’ EN+ Initiative is designed to function at the neighborhood scale. The overview and report highlight benefits of delivering services in this narrow geographic focus.



Job training at core

What does it look like to design a program explicitly around local community job creation? The Chumash tribe example detailed here explores this approach, and you’ll also find some complementary information on Minority Business Enterprise and Local Hire tools relevant to this approach.




Multifamily scale

Multifamily housing communities are a largely untapped area for implementation of energy efficiency programming with tremendous equity implications. The Duke Energy overview highlights one example, while you’ll find deep analysis of multifamily opportunities in the Expertise and Partners section of this tool.


Innovative Finance

Finance is widely known to be a significant barrier to implementing energy efficiency practices, most strikingly for low-income customers. New models are being piloted in the region, with both corporate partner and utility leadership. This section explores examples of on-bill financing, Employee Energy Benefits programs, and utility-funded retrofit programs like those in Knoxville and Huntsville.


Help My House











Extreme Energy Makeover

  • Huntsville Case Study



Expertise and Partners

Whether you want to deepen your understanding of equity and its many dimensions, or to forge new relationships with partners or experts on equitable energy efficiency solutions, we all recognize the value of partners. This section includes two overview decks intended to support conversations with utilities and other corporate partners around the return on investment for integrating equity into their energy efficiency services. It also walks you through the most recent work of a number of different nongovernmental organizations, providing summaries of their reports and white papers as well as the full documents for your review. Where relevant webinars and videos were available, those are also included here.

Expertise and partners

This deck orients you to the types of partners you might seek for different expertise around energy equity.


Utility Partners

This deck is intended to support conversations with utilities around the many benefits of integrating equity into their energy efficiency services.


Corporate Partners

This deck reviews the concept of Employee Energy Benefits programs and their value to corporate partners and their employees.

Employee_Energy_Benefits_Model_FINAL (1)

NGO Partners

Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) pushes for policies and actions that promote equity and shared prosperity in metropolitan Atlanta. Through forums, research, and organizing efforts, PSE brings together the regional community to lift up and encourage just, sustainable, and civic practices for balanced growth and opportunity.

Just Energy Circle


Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas



The Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) promotes energy efficiency as a catalyst for economic growth, workforce development and energy security across 11 southeastern states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

SE Multifamily Market Assessment




Utility-Administered Low-Income Programs in the SE




The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. We believe that the United States can harness the full potential of energy efficiency to achieve greater economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection for all its people.

Multi. Benefits of Multifamily EE for Cost-Effective Screening



Lifting the High Energy Burden in America’s Largest Cities



Building Better EE Programs for Low-Income Households



3rd National Review of Exemplary EE Programs

ACEEE-Third-National-Review-of-Exemplary-Energy-Efficiency-Programs (1)

The Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) is a national network of government working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. GARE is a joint project of Center for Social Inclusion and the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

Advancing Racial Equity + Transforming Government



The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

Just Energy Policies: Reducing Pollution + Creating Jobs



Center for Social Inclusion’s (CSI) mission is to catalyze communities, government, and other institutions to dismantle structural racial inequity and create equitable outcomes for all.

Energy-Democracy-NEWHAB-Slides (1)

Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) is dedicated to linking the energy and housing sectors together in order to tap the benefits of energy efficiency for millions of low-income families. We work with electric and gas utilities and their regulators interested in innovative energy efficiency program designs. We advise housing finance agencies on best practices in building owner engagement and finance products. We collaborate with owners, managers, businesses and advocates in order to achieve energy savings in multifamily properties. EEFA is a partnership of the Energy Foundation, Elevate Energy, National Housing Trust and Natural Resources Defense Council.

EE Programs in Affordable Multifamily