Case study

Philadelphia Built to Last Pilot

UPDATED: 12/04/2023


Project Name: Philadelphia Built to Last Program

Project Leader(s):

  • Philadelphia Energy Authority

  • Philadelphia Green Capital Corp

Partner(s): Energy Coordinating Agency, Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, UESF, Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Gas Works, PECO, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging

Stage of Completion: On-going (does not have a confirmed end date) 

Construction Type: Existing buildings

Building Type: Single-family 

Total Number of Units Targeted: 10,000 by 2033 (interim annual targets set)

Total Number of Units Completed: 50

Tenant Structure: Owner-occupied

Target Audience: Low-income homeowners living across the City of Philadelphia. Did not want to limit eligibility by scoping a specific neighborhood.

Electrification Project Scope

Full/Partial Electrification:

  • Partial – will electrify where it makes sense, particularly appliances that are at the end of life.

  • Not doing early retirement of well-functioning appliances. 

Existing Heating Fuel Type: Gas, Heating Oil, and Electric Resistance

End Uses Electrified: Space heating and cooling, water heating, cooking – circumstantial based on each individual building

Specific electric appliances installed: Air-source heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, induction stove


Total Project Funding: $15M (currently) 

Amount or % of Project Cost Covered per unit: 100% of costs are covered currently. It is difficult to serve low-income households with financing products and still attain a 6% energy burden. There is financing for solar lease projects but those projects typically pay for themselves over time. High-capital cost energy efficiency projects on the other hand do not typically pay for themselves easily over time. 

Source of Funding:

  • Pennsylvania Whole Home Repairs Program $7M

  • State funds and foundation dollars

More information

Motivation for electrification:

  • Built to Last seeks to restore the safety, health, affordability and comfort of existing affordable housing in a way that improves the long-term quality of Philadelphia’s housing, builds community wealth, and helps families avoid displacement and stay in their homes.

  • The program looks at electrification coupled with solar to build long-term affordability for utility energy bills. 

Additional Measures Implemented: ​​Pre-weatherization home repair needs, enhanced counseling and enrollment services to avoid administrative WAP (and other program) deferrals, addressing home health and safety issues, roof and other basic system repairs (plumbing, electrical, minor structural), rooftop solar

Workforce Development/Green Jobs Component: The project will include a Green Retrofit Immersive Training program (GRIT). The program graduates a well-trained, local, diverse workforce to fulfill the jobs created by Built to Last contractors. GRIT prioritizes trainees from marginalized communities, and fieldwork includes hands-on training at existing affordable housing units. The training provided is paid and provides wraparound services (counseling, soft-skill development, interview prep, helping folks attain drivers licenses, etc.) which helps the program reach more folks.

Next steps: Continuing to grow the program and finding additional sources of funding to support that growth


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