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LEAP’s Temporary ‘New Normal’ in the Time of COVID-19

From the Desk of the Executive Director

Home office

I think we can all acknowledge that we are living through an interesting and challenging part of history, which is likely to reshape society and our economy. LEAP has not been immune to the pandemic’s impacts, as we suspended our operations in mid-March. While LEAP’s operations are technically considered ‘essential’, our staff and I did not feel comfortable going into people’s homes, which is critical to our line of work.

LEAP was in a sustainable financial position when we suspended operations, and recently came back to ‘work’ after receiving a Paycheck Protection Program loan. ‘Work’, of course, looks different now, with no one going into our office. Our weatherization crew is now working on the exterior of homes, as well as unoccupied homes using proper sanitation protocols and equipment.

LEAP is in a good position from a market-demand perspective because there is, and will continue to be, too much work for us to do. This is because of mandates in place on our utility company clients to implement energy-efficiency measures. Municipalities are also demanding more of our services to help low-income residents and improve housing affordability by lowering utility bills. These budget allocations from both sets of clients can’t and/or are unlikely to change. Of course, more people will likely be working from home and will see their energy bills reflect as much, so I also expect more demand to come from more frequent work-from-home clients.

While we look forward to the demand for our services to continue, how we go about delivering them will likely change. A home energy assessment will probably require a choreographed ‘dance’ in our clients’ homes, and those who are at significant risk might have to be off-premise while we work. This Consumer Report article on home service calls gives a good overview of what to expect at a minimum.

Luckily, a lot of the insulating and air sealing of homes occurs in attics and crawl spaces, so once an assessment is done, the solutions LEAP provides do not require much interaction with home occupants and minimal time spent in the living spaces. Nevertheless, our crews will take extra precautions to clean equipment after use, and will wear gloves and facemasks whenever we’re inside the home.

I also know that how we expect to do things will likely be wrong, and we will need to be flexible and operate in a cautious manner. Our staff and clients are and will continue to be our top priority. LEAP can’t afford to have staff infected nor be the cause of an infection.

In closing, I want to assure you that LEAP is not going anywhere. We will be watching for more guidance from Governor Northam as to when we should restart operations. We will modify our operations to ensure no transmissions occur between our staff and our clients. 

We thank you for your continued interest in LEAP and appreciate your trust in us to deliver services in a safe and effective manner.

– Chris Meyer, Executive Director of LEAP

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