Case study

Denver Healthy Homes Program

UPDATED: 12/13/2023

General


Project Name: Healthy Homes Program

Project Leader(s): Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency

Partner(s):

  • BlocPower (manages the multi-family program - working with building owners and managers)

  • Energy Outreach Colorado (manages the single-family program)

Stage of Completion: In-progress

  • Contracts with both implementers are currently in place. 

  • Construction tasks on the multi-family side are on hold, awaiting award of federal funding. The current focus of the program is on workforce development, outreach and engagement.

Construction Type: Existing buildings

Building Type:

  • Single-family (mobile homes are eligible as well) 

  • Multi-family: Smaller multi-family units (duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes)

Total Number of Units Targeted:

  • 100 low-to moderate-income units in multifamily residences

  • 100 single-family low-to moderate-income homes

Total Number of Units Completed:

  • Multi-family: implementation work will begin when Federal Funding awards become available and other requirements are finalized

  • Single-family: Completed two homes in total. Approximately a dozen are nearing completion by the end of 2023.

Tenant Structure: Mixed (renter-occupied and owner-occupied)

  • Nearly all single-family homes are owner-occupied (80% AMI for single-family), and the average is approximately 45% AMI for participants who have applied and qualified 

  • Multi-family units are renter-occupied. Currently negotiating with multi-family owners on tenant protections. Working with the Building Electrification Institute (BEI) to study the potential impacts of electrification on multi-family housing affordability.

Target Audience: To qualify the program participant must: 

  • Must live in the City and County of Denver

  • Rent or own a single-family home, townhome, duplex, or mobile home

  • OR reside in multi-family housing, that is considered naturally occurring affordable housing (based on rents) or deed-restricted housing

  • Have a household income below 80% AMI

The program will target households where at least one member has a chronic respiratory condition:

  • Looking into referrals from healthcare providers (part of outreach is connecting with clinics and providers)

  • The team is also utilizing risk matrices and maps for air quality and heat vulnerability to inform outreach

  • Not every tenant needs to have a respiratory condition 

Electrification Project Scope


Full/Partial Electrification

  • Primarily partial electrification.

  • The scope of work developed for each participant will determine the extent of electrification for that unit. 

  • Electrification will be considered for end-use appliances that require replacement or where there is an indication they are contributing to poor air quality in the home

  • In general, the program will prioritize advanced envelope measures, full or partial electrification of space and water heating, ventilation, and other healthy homes measures to improve indoor air quality

Existing Heating Fuel Type: Natural gas is the primary existing heating fuel source. However, some buildings in Denver utilize electric resistance heating

End Uses Electrified: Space heating and cooling, water heating, cooking, clothes drying

Specific electric appliances installed: Cold-climate air source heat pumps, electric induction stoves, heat pump water heaters, heat pump clothes dryers

Funding/Cost


Total Project Funding:

  • $6M between single family and multifamily programs

  • The program will also aim to leverage utility incentives for income-qualified participants

  • BlocPower also offers a multi-family financing product

Amount or % of Project Cost Covered per unit:

  • Up to 100% for income-qualified participants 

  • For single-family: If there are significant structural or drywall issues beyond the scope of the program, the additional cost would be discussed with the homeowner. The team will provide assistance finding additional funding or referrals to other home repair programs or financing

  • Electrification upgrades are dependent on the homeowner's decision. 

  • For multifamily buildings, financing options will be provided if needed in addition to generous incentives.

Source of Funding:

  • Denver’s Climate Protection Fund

  • Energy Outreach Colorado

  • Utility Incentives from Xcel Energy (income-qualified) 

  • HUD Funding (award pending)

  • EPA Funding (award pending)

More information


Motivation for electrification:

  • The purpose of the program is to work with income-qualified, climate-vulnerable, and health-vulnerable households to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve indoor air quality, and reduce exposure to pollutants. Through this program, project leaders hope to provide home upgrades to keep families healthy and safe while helping the environment. The purpose of the program is to learn about different mechanical systems, building types, and building ages to create a pathway for the decarbonization of older buildings with various potential issues. 

  • Three main goals: reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve indoor air quality for vulnerable populations, reduce vulnerability to extreme heat.

Additional Measures Implemented:

  • Scope of work may include air quality improvements, community solar subscriptions, LED light bulbs, Energy Star refrigerators, air sealing, insulation, mechanical systems replacement/tune-up, electrification measures, envelope measures, window replacement, electrical service infrastructure, and health and safety measures

  • The program will also provide a free indoor air quality test, advice from experts and recommendations for improvements, free upgrades that address identified home air quality problems, and step-by-step support during the installation process

  • The program will also work to find adjacent programs that provide support for additional measures (handrails, ramps, and other accessibility measures) programs that can supplement the measures the program provides.

  • The program will also connect participants to a community solar subscription, which serves as a bill credit for electricity to insulate participants from potential risk of bill increases due to added cooling or new equipment.

Workforce Development/Green Jobs Component:

  • Every contract in Denver above a certain dollar threshold has a Minority/Women Business-owned Enterprise (MWBE) workforce goal. This project is hoping to exceed the goal significantly. Prevailing wage requirements are in place for construction and retrofit scopes of work. Training and workforce development tasks are included for both implementers - upskilling HVAC contractors to work with heat pumps. The project also hopes to pull together a workforce training program and collaborate with local training coordinators. The project will try to prioritize installers from the communities they are working in. 

Next steps:

  • Multi-family - awaiting federal funding awards

  • Single-family: focused on streamlining processes, getting contractors and installers upskilled, and bringing in external resources to maximize benefit for participants

Source:

Links to additional sources:

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