LEAP Celebrates Milestone with 1,000th Home Energy Upgrade in Central Virginia

Charlottesville, VA – More than 1,000 Charlottesville area homeowners have made energy improvements to their homes and qualified for rebates through Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), a milestone LEAP announced today alongside the launch of a new website: www.leap-va.org. LEAP is one of just 15 BetterBuildings grant programs nationwide to hit the 1000 home energy upgrade mark.

Today LEAP also announced a new partnership with a well-known Allergy and Asthma Specialist, an upcoming workshop on healthy homes and energy efficiency, and an in home evaluation for homeowners interested indoor air quality. Residents can learn about this new initiative to improve the health of our homes – as well as their affordability – on LEAP’s new website.

“Without question I’m very proud of our organization’s accomplishments in just under three years,” said Cynthia Adams, LEAP’s Executive Director. “We are truly grateful to our network of contractors and other local partners, who through their hard work and support have helped lay a foundation for future growth of programs and services for the central Virginia community.”

LEAP has collaborated with a number of key players in the energy efficiency field and in the central Virginia community on its path to this milestone, including: the City of Charlottesville, County of Albemarle, University of Virginia and Darden School of Business, Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors, UVA Community Credit Union and a talented contractor network. LEAP’s alliance model is a community-based public-private partnership, underscored by the $6M in private investment the organization has leveraged in just three years.

“Working with 1,000 homeowners has taught us a lot about what people want out of their homes and how LEAP can help them achieve their goals,” said Adams. “The services we offer are constantly evolving in step with the community, and we’re ready for some of the exciting opportunities we have on the horizon.”

Specifically, in addition to energy improvements, LEAP will educate the community on the health and safety of our buildings with respect to indoor air quality starting with a:

• Partnership with Dr. Arvind Madaan of Charlottesville Allergy and Respiratory Enterprises (CARE; www.cvilleallergy.com) whereby LEAP and CARE will appear jointly at several events throughout the spring and summer

• Healthy Homes Workshop in April (date TBA) , free and open to the public (more info and to register: info@leap-va.org)

• An in home assessment called the “Healthy and Efficient Home Evaluation,” currently in the pilot stage, that will be a low-cost option for evaluating a home’s energy efficiency and health and safety

“I believe LEAP offers an important opportunity for improving indoor air quality which can have a significant medical impact for people suffering from allergies and asthma.  Allergies and Asthma are emerging epidemics.  As patient-centric, result-driven Allergy, Asthma and Immunology specialists, we find such programs to potentially have a meaningful socio-economic and health impact for our community.” said Dr. Madaan, President, Charlottesville Allergy and Respiratory Enterprises (CARE; www.cvilleallergy.com)

Many energy improvements improve indoor air quality through air and duct sealing, proper ventilation, and the mitigation of moisture issues. For families in particular, this can mean lower health care costs for those whose homes act as a trigger for asthma, allergies, or other respiratory illnesses resulting from mold growing unseen in the home, low-level carbon monoxide backdrafting, or gas leaks. These chronic illnesses put a drain on our healthcare system, interfere with school attendance, and contribute to workplace absenteeism – to say nothing of the dent they put in families’ budgets. The link between energy efficiency, home health and an individual’s health is a public interest focus for federal agencies such as the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Housing and Urban Development as embodied in their collaborative Healthy Homes Initiative.

“Energy efficient buildings are healthier places to live and work, and we are eager to team up with local doctors and health professionals to make that connection clear and compelling,” said Adams.

LEAP was created in 2010 after the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle jointly applied for and won a competitive grant to fund a community-based energy efficiency organization. July 2010 marked the launch of LEAP’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, which remains its flagship program, followed by the 2011 launch of a commercial program and 2013 expansion into northern Virginia.

The Charlottesville area community has reaped several benefits since LEAP’s inception, including:

• Education and outreach on energy efficiency to 5000+ local residents

• Energy savings for 1000+ homeowners and several local businesses, with money spent locally instead of going to utility companies

• Helping local governments meet their carbon emission reduction targets

• Improved affordability, value and durability of our businesses and neighborhoods