White House Discussion on the Weatherization Supply Chain Part 1

Uploaded by whitehouse on 15.06.2012

I wanted to thank you all for coming today.
I have the pleasure of introducing our welcoming
speaker this morning.
We have someone who has been an advocate for energy efficiency
and weatherization, renewable energy and environmental issues
all together.
He was the chief of staff for us over at CEQ and now is the
director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
So I hope you will join me in welcoming Jon Carson.
Jon Carson: Good morning, everyone!
Audience: Good morning!
Jon Carson: Welcome to the White House.
Welcome to everyone who is watching us live today
on Livestream.
I want to kick today's discussion on weatherization by
thanking each and every one of you here today who have been
part of making history together.
We together, the federal government,
those of you in the supply chain,
those of you at the front line in every one of those homes,
together we weatherized over one million homes.
So thank you.
Now, for those of you following along today or those
of you who brought your Blackberrys or iPhones with you,
I'm going to talk a little bit more about this.
But we want to be tweeting all day long.
We want to be blogging all day long.
We want to use today's event to get as many people as excited
about weatherization and what we got done together as those of
you in the room today.
If you know what a hashtag is -- and if you don't,
you should figure it out.
We're going to be using the hashtag WxWH,
weatherization in the White House.
I will be tweeting a little bit later.
And that's really the main ask that I have for each and every
one of you.
This story of what we got done together and of the jobs that
have been created and the jobs and the companies that have been
launched because of this effort, this story needs to be told.
And if we've learned anything, it's that you can't tell these
stories at the macroeconomic level.
When we talk about infrastructure,
we don't talk about treasury bonds and investments.
We talk about the bridge over Highway 14 that needs to be
rebuilt and the construction companies that need to be put
back to work.
And when we talk about weatherization and energy
efficiency and what it has done to communities across the
country, you all here today are the stories that we need to lift
up, the companies that were a part of getting those one
million homes weatherized, the companies that are still
involved in energy efficiency and creating jobs today.
You can't tell this story at the national level.
You need to tell it each home at a time,
each electricity bill that is cheaper than it was two years
ago, each company involved in the supply chain that's making
a difference.
And that is the ask that I want to kick today off with.
If you are on Twitter, tweet about it.
If you've got a blog, blog about it.
If all you've got is a bulletin board that you can pin something
up -- And make sure everyone in each of your organizations,
everyone in each of your companies feels as much a part
of this as those homeowners who are benefiting from the work
that we got done together.
Thousands of people were involved in this effort.
And thousands of people are now part of this effort that's been
launched out of what we got done together.
And that's our ask of you today, that you help tell this story
and that, from this White House event today,
an issue that we care so deeply about as well as all of you,
you help us spread the word.
I want to give a quick thanks to the National Association for
State Community Service Programs and Advocates for the Other
America who were just a huge help in pulling this together.
Tim Warfield, Alice Gaston, Brad Penney and Arley Johnson,
could you all, quick, stand up.
(applause) We so much appreciate the work you did to pull this
all together.
And we appreciate everyone's time today.
But as I said, throughout the day when you get that moment to
help spread the word, and when you go back home,
if it's just finding three people in the grocery store this
weekend to tell the story of what we got done together,
please do it.
And to kick things off today, what's so exciting about this,
for those us in the White House in the administration who've
been working on this issue is, I think when we were in those very
long meetings about what was going to be in The Recovery Act,
when we were in those interminable meetings about how
to execute The Recovery Act -- and you all remember those
moments we were talking about.
I think we all had a picture in our heads of a day like today,
when we would get to sit down with and have a conversation
with the people who are on the front lines,
who made this happen, and the people who,
I think most importantly, are realizing what we all hoped
would be the outcome of this, that it wouldn't just be one
program, that long-term economic development and jobs and energy
savings would be created all across the country.
And so it's with great pleasure that I get to introduce the
person who is spending those longest hours here at the White
House, the person who is an advocate,
longed for these issues as broad as they are now,
someone who had all of you in mind as we were fighting to make
this a reality, the President's Chief Energy Advisor,
Heather Zichal.
Heather Zichal: Thank you.
And thanks for the opportunity to join you this morning.
I thought I would start the morning out by giving you a bit
of a bird's eye view of the administration's energy and
climate policies.
Shortly after the President took office,
we unveiled an all-of-the-above energy approach.
We said let's develop more natural gas and oil but let's
also double down on our opportunities to improve
energy efficiency, to invest in renewables,
and to make sure that we're producing more solar
and wind power and other clean sources of energy.
Since then, our dependence on foreign oil has gone down every
year the President has been in office.
In fact, over the last year alone,
we've reduced net imports by one million barrels a day.
The United States is now producing more domestic oil
than at any time in the last eight years.
But we're also producing more natural gas and biofuels than at
any time in our history.
And since 2008, America has doubled
the use of renewable energy, like solar power and wind power.
But I mostly want to highlight the administration's work around
energy efficiency because this has been an important part of
the President's overall agenda.
From our perspective, improving energy efficiency,
whether it's in the transportation sector
or the built environment, is truly the fastest, cheapest,
and easiest way to decrease our dependence on oil,
reduce pollution, and save families and businesses money
on their energy bills.
One of the very first actions that the President took when he
came into office was to direct the Environmental Protection
Agency and the Department of Transportation to work with the
auto industry and develop new fuel economy standards for cars
and trucks.
That was an important step for two reasons.
First, the vast majority of the oil we use today, close to 70%,
is in the transportation sector.
Second, at the time, fuel economy standards had not been
changed for more than 30 years.
But with the President's leadership,
we were able to move forward.
Taken together, the standards we propose span models 2011-2025
and represent the toughest standards in history.
Under our final program, average fuel efficiency for cars and
trucks is expected to nearly double,
reaching an average performance equivalent of about 55 miles per
gallon by 2025.
Beyond the transportation sector,
this administration has taken action to improve efficiency in
the built environment.
Since October of 2009, DOE, the Department of Housing and Urban
Development, have jointly, as Jon Carson said,
completed energy upgrades in more than one million homes
across the country.
For many families, these upgrades save over $400 on their
heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.
That program, as everybody in this room knows,
has also been a very successful job creator.
To complement those efforts, the administration has also taken
new steps to help families save money by increasing the
efficiency of everyday appliances like refrigerators
and dishwashers.
Under this administration, the Department of Energy has
finalized new standards for more than 30 products which are
estimated to save consumers more than $300 billion through 2030.
And as many of you know, through programs like the President's
Better Buildings Challenge, we're focused on how we can work
across sectors to make commercial buildings 20% more
efficient by 2020.
Achieving that goal could save businesses more than $40 billion
a year on energy costs and create new jobs along the way.
On the jobs front, we were very excited to announce just
yesterday that the administration is taking new
steps to support training programs for Americans working
in building operations.
The Department of Energy and the Department Of Commerce have
selected three centers for buildings operations excellence.
These centers will be eligible for up to $1.3 million to
develop worker training programs,
focused on building retuning, energy management,
and building operations.
In the coming weeks and months, we'll keep moving forward.
We'll be focused on finalizing the next round of the historic
fuel economy standards for cars and trucks,
building out new initiatives around energy efficiency and the
industrial sector, and continuing the successful
programs like the Better Buildings Challenge and the
administration's Green Button initiative.
And where there are opportunities to bring down
barriers that remain in the way of greater efficiency,
whether it's with or without congress, we'll continue to act.
The bottom line is that the President believes very strongly
that energy efficiency is one of the best opportunities to
enhance our energy security, create new jobs,
and make our economy stronger.
I just want to, again, echo Jon Carson's words of thanks for all
of the support that you have given the administration.
Everybody in this room is evidence of the benefits of the
clean energy economy.
And it's truly been an honor to work with many of the people in
this room.
I look forward to continuing that work into the future.
And with that, I'm going to introduce your next speaker,
the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency,
Kathleen Hogan.
All the successes that we mentioned here in the energy
efficiency space lead directly to Kathleen Hogan's front door.
She's been an amazing advocate, not only in this position at
DOE, but has a long, long history of supporting innovative
programs that will help build the clean energy economy.
So with that, I would like to turn it over to Kathleen.
Kathleen Hogan: I'm going to say a few
words as our panel comes up and joins me here.
Thank you for that very nice introduction.
I'm pleased to be here as well to help celebrate this important
program at this important point in time.
I think what our panel is going to show is really how valuable
energy efficiency is to the country,
particularly with the low-income community and really beyond.
We've heard the numbers.
A million homes weatherized, hundreds of dollars of savings
for each family in each one of those homes.
But we also know the program has done more than that.
It has supported tens of thousands of direct jobs.
It's helped build a trained workforce that can participate
in a growing home improvement marketplace.
And it has truly lead to the development of many tools and
procedures now used in these programs across the country.
And you can look at those contributions,
and they're pretty tangible, important contributions.
But the value and the power of the weatherization program is
really even broader than that, due to the materials and
equipment that go into these homes.
And I think that's really part of the broader power of energy
efficiency, both the direct jobs as well as the vast other
aspects through the supply chain that help our economy grow.
And we're going to do, in this panel,
a bit of a deep dive into the weatherization program.
But for a moment, I just want to echo a couple of the things that
Heather Zichal mentioned because of the great power of energy
efficiency and some of the things that we are doing to
tap into this.
We really are doing them.
That is why the President is backing the Better Buildings
Challenge as an example to spur investments in our commercial
and industrial sectors.
And we have a great set of leaders that have come forth to
help us drive those improvements as well.
And then just this week, we announced Starbucks and Staples
joining in that effort.
And the federal government is here to do its part as well.
The President challenged the federal government to drive over
$2 billion of investment over the next two years through
performance based contracting.
And the federal government is stepping up to meet
that challenge.
And then back at the Department of Energy,
we of course keep doing things in partnership with
the community so we can keep doing things better.
So we're inventing sort of new mile per gallon ratings for
homes so people can better understand the efficiency of
their homes and the things they can do to improve them,
as well as the new Green Button initiative that can pull forth
the data that we need that underlies so much of what we
want to understand about our homes and our opportunities
for improvement.
So with that, let's dive into the weatherization program and
some of the supply chain issues.
I'm going to introduce the panel members quickly.
And then they'll each have about eight minutes to tell us their
aspect, their good story.
So first we have Annette Odren.
She's a sales consultant for Advocates for The Other America,
a non-profit dedicated to championing causes for
low-income Americans in Washington, D.C.
Next is Chris Hoch.
He's the President and owner of National Fiber since 1997,
during which time he's established cellulose as the
only local green affordable high performance insulation in
the Northeast.
Next is Benito Hernandez, the cofounder of BMS company,
a residential retrofit and construction company that's been
working in the residential housing industry since the
late 80's.
And then next is Rod Williams.
He's a founder and owner of Energy Specialists, Inc.
in Alaska, Energy Savers, Inc.
in Washington State and Energy Savings, Inc.
in Oregon.
So we look forward to hearing from each of you.
And we will start with Annette.
Annette Odren: All righty.
Good morning.
And thank you for being here.
Let's see if I can point this out of my face.
I'm about a foot shorter than some of these guys.
Why WAP?
The rest of the good folks who came from across the country
to speak today will answer different parts of
that question.
I want to make sure we cover one that isn't mentioned often
enough when we're discussing weatherization.
And that's something that was mentioned earlier by these
folks, but it kind of gets lost a lot of the time.
It's our national dependence on outside sources of energy.
Our dependence on foreign oil, which can be withheld or
interrupted, is a national security issue.
U.S. borrowing to purchase approximately 40 to 50% of the
oil we use adversely affects our economy and contributes to
our deficit.
Saving these monies, the interest payments that follow,
and the uncertainties of being dependent on others for such a
crucial need makes energy, as we probably already know,
the national security issue of our time.
Although they have different opinions on what's desirable,
both parties agree that developing new sources of energy
is crucial.
But developing those new supplies,
while extremely important, is expensive.
Decreasing the amount that we waste,
thereby freeing up domestic energy to replace the foreign
oil, is key to strengthening our nation's energy security.
And energy's conservation is by far the least expensive new
source that we could have.
Now, of course --and we talked about this when we were
discussing writing this whole thing.
Oil is not the only form of energy which is conserved
through weatherization projects.
Well, funding weatherization increases our energy
independence through a variety of practical measures.
Weatherization crews tighten the building shell and add
insulation to lower heating and cooling demands.
They install more efficient appliances,
such as heating and cooling systems, water heaters,
or lightbulbs that use less energy to do the same job.
Since residences account for approximately 20% of our
domestic use, it becomes clear that work done by this network
positively effects our national economy.
The folks on our first panel represent the hard working
people at hundreds of companies, large and small,
across the United States, whose daily work supports the
Weatherization Assistance Program.
Collectively, members of the WAP supply chain make the products
and provide the services the network needs to function,
everything from software to testing equipment,
insulation to installation machines,
furnaces and water heaters, windows to training to caulk.
While most of these companies sell both to the WAP agencies
and private contractors, weatherization is an important
part of their customer base.
Cuts to weatherization funding mean jobs are lost,
not only at every weatherization organization but also at every
WAP support company.
And these American companies provide products and services
from the start of that application process all the way
to the final punch list.
Software developers --and I see some in the audience here.
Software developers streamline the job of determining
eligibility, tracking, and reporting projects.
Initial inspections are done by specially train and experienced
crew leaders.
They bring U.S. made equipment to test for everything from
potentially life threatening health and safety issues like
the presence of carbon monoxide and combustion gases in the air
and gas leaks from both combustion appliances and,
oh heavens, building performance issues, comfort issues like the
envelope and duct work leakage.
When the rehab work begins, crews arrive well trained,
thanks to the extensive WAP training center network.
Dense packed insulation, like cellulose manufactured by
National Fiber, represented here by Chris Hoch from Belchertown,
Massachusetts -- I love that name.
I had to put that any more in, Belchertown.
-- is installed with equipment like that made from Intech
in Colorado.
In fact, information from Conservation Services Group in
Westborough, Mass shows that fully 94% of the materials
incorporated into a weatherization project are
made right here in the U.S.
And this is a line straight from Steve Cole.
And anybody who's heard this, I'm stealing it with
his approval.
Furnaces are too large to ship.
Windows are too fragile.
Insulation is too bulky and cheap.
And the caulk and other incidentals are made at U.S.
chemical companies.
So now we're done quoting Steve.
On a limited budget per job, these crews repair where they
can and replace what they must so that when they leave the
residence is not only more energy efficient and comfortable
but it's healthier and safer too.
You can see that most of the weatherization jobs can't be
outsourced because weatherization -- the crews do
the truly nasty, disgusting dirty work of improving some of
the worst housing stock in the United States.
I don't know how many of you would like to crawl under a
crawl space or an attic of some place that's been infested with
rodents or anything like that.
These people do that kind of thing.
God bless, okay.
I'm so glad that they do.
Anyway, that's an aside.
That's not in here.
But it's true.
They do.
According to information gathered from WAP records,
the work done by this program returns $1.80 for
every dollar spent.
And that's just the energy savings.
The other part of it is that the paychecks are plowed back into
the local economy.
As you said, tens of thousands --and that came right from here.
I was supposed to say thousands but she just said
tens of thousands of people approximately,
according to Bob Adams if you're here -- I got this from him --
we're guessing about 25% of them veterans are employed through
every step of the weatherization process.
According to the DOE, in the fourth quarter of 2011,
the WAP network directly -- this is just WAP,
not the supply chain -- directly created or retained
approximately 10,000 -- I love this -- approximately 10,513.
Very approximate.
That's a general figure.
All right.
Some would argue if weatherizing your home results in such cost
effective savings then the free market will ensure that it
all gets done.
It's great.
And certainly, many of the companies here have both their
low-income program and help folks that are more market rate,
you know, middle or upper income.
But the people who can least afford it are folks that,
they can't afford to have this work done.
They can't hire someone to come in and take care of it.
And they might be spending somewhere upwards of 15% of
their income on their energy needs.
The sad thing is, as our economy pushes more people out of the
middle class and into eligibility for these programs,
we're seeing cuts to the programs in terms of
the funding.
So more people eligible, less money to go around.
From 2000 to 2010, the average national budget for the WAP,
right around $220 million, if you average over the last
five years, pre-ARRA.
The addition of $5 billion of the ARRA -- you know,
I should never try to read stuff.
You get lost and then you're doomed.
Anyway, the addition of $5 billion spread over three years
of ARRA, along with new requirements for Davis-Bacon and
historic preservation constituted an astonishing
change for everyone.
And we all know that partially due to some stumbles in the
early days of ARRA and partially due to serious issues
in the greater economy, funding for 2011 was reduced
to $174.8 million.
And then fiscal 2012, the federal budget was again
slashed to $68 million, with $3 million of that staying
in D.C. for training and technical assistance.
So we're going from an average of about $220 million down to
$68 million.
As you would expect with such a reduction,
the layoffs at weatherization agencies and their supporting
companies have already begun.
So the rest of this panel will cover some of those issues in
greater detail.
Thank you.
Chris Hoch: Good morning.
I would like to tell you why the weatherization program is
so important.
While weatherization has definitely provided jobs,
the weatherization program was originally conceived as a way to
save energy.
Many homes in the United States still have no insulation or
inadequate insulation.
And they waste energy.
That is easily verified through the use of blower door testing
with infrared scanning.
While alternative energy is necessary for our future,
it is still not fully developed.
It is still expensive.
And the necessary equipment is increasingly being
manufactured abroad.
Energy conservation through the weatherization program is
available right now.
It is relatively inexpensive.
It is entirely local.
And it can reduce the energy needs of a building to the point
where alternative energy sources become economically viable.
How the weatherization program works.
Since their inception, weatherization programs have
used cellulose as the insulation of choice.
It has high R-value, effective air blocking,
excellent fire retardency.
It has superb sound blocking.
It has 84% recycled material, a low embodied energy,
low carbon footprint, and it is inexpensive.
Through insulation and air sealing,
the energy requirements of a build can be reduced by as
much as 50%.
And in fact, insulation with air sealing saved more energy than
all other energy saving measures combined.
Local installers are trained and ready to work with the state
weatherization programs.
Inadequate insulation is removed.
Air sealing is done where necessary.
And the cavities are dense packed with insulation to
improve the R-value and reduce air infiltration.
Weatherized buildings use less air conditioning in the summer,
less heat in the winter, and this saves money.
How the weatherization program creates jobs.
Cellulose insulation is typically made by small
regional manufacturers.
Due to the economics of the industry, low margins,
and expensive transportation, these jobs will not be
outsourced overseas.
The raw materials and the equipment are all available in
the United States.
And the labor is all local.
The insulation is installed by local contractors who purchase
their materials and equipment from local distributors or
the manufacturer.
It is a stimulant to local economies to have the
weatherization program be adequately funded one year where
contracts are secured, crews are hired and trained,
materials are order and infrastructure is built.
And then it's damaging and demoralizing to those same local
economies when the weatherization program is
dramatically cut back the next year.
Where jobs are cut, local funding for training is wasted.
Material orders are canceled, and the
infrastructure collapsed.
These weatherization programs deserve to be consistently
well funded.
Why the weatherization program is good for our country.
It reduces the amount of paper going to landfills.
It stimulates the local economy through job growth.
It reduces the demand for energy and increases our
energy independence.
It increases our national security by sending less money
to politically unstable regions.
And it frees up money for discretionary spending by
reducing the cost of energy.
Thank you.
Benito Hernandez: My name is Ben Hernandez,
and I'm the Vice President of BMS construction.
I want to thank you for being here at this great place,
our White House.
With me also is three of my grandchildren.
They thank you too.
(laughter) I said I'm the Vice President.
This is a company that's located in Dickinson, Texas.
Its family-run and operated.
And I'm proud to say that they've asked me to share what's
happened at the company level.
After two years of working at the weatherization program as an
HVAC contractor, BMS has tripled their line of credit with little
or no debt.
They developed relationships with the state and local
agencies, performing weatherization across
Southeast Texas.
This is a great accomplishment for a small company like ours.
A little work history on BMS.
2006-2010 was an emerging company with some growth but not
the growth that we experienced during 2010.
In 2010, we were selected as the weatherization contractor by the
Neighborhood Centers out of Houston.
We saw 300% growth.
We doubled our office space.
We added 25 permanent or full-time employees and
purchased many large items of American made equipment
and supplies.
In 2011 --and I think you'll hear this story again -- we
learned the process, we perfected it,
and continue to grow.
2012, well sales are down 75%, but BMS is contracting now as a
weatherization contractor in an open market.
We're still employing 14 full-time employees.
And we got projected growth.
As an example, we're still looking for employees now.
We want to add some more technicians.
Equipment we purchase, that was important to know.
We purchased three box trucks.
We purchased a large cargo trailer.
We purchased one 14-passenger passenger van to transport our
teams on larger scale jobs as far as carpooling.
We have four service trucks, and all of them Ford made.
And the trailers were all American made.
We're proud of that.
This slide should show all the equipment that we purchased for
our teams doing the work out in the field.
As you can see, there's a lot of different equipment here;
high-tech laptops, desks, and so on.
This along with over 500,000 supplies that we bought from
local and national vendors, I think we've stimulated
the economy.
Might be on a small scale, but we did it in our community.
Weatherization technology and training.
BMS bought and learned newly developed software to perform
precise HVAC calculations and energy audit.
That was an accomplishment on our part.
And I'll share this.
In the industry, we got really good at this.
A lot of our industry needs to follow what we did.
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs developed
a weatherization training academy for all contractors and
agencies performing weatherization.
They did it free of charge.
They also developed the best practice for most of the work
being done; set the standard, train the contractors,
and we follow the procedures.
This also required for BMS to increase the training of its
technicians to meet the newly developed standards by the state
and the contract owners, standards that were strictly
enforced and monitored by the Neighborhood
Centers representatives.
We learned the process, ladies and gentlemen.
So did the other contractors in there.
We learned it by standards.
We did it over and over by procedure.
And I think that was a great accomplishment,
Quality at its best.
BMS joined the trade organizations like Air
Conditioning Contractors of America to gain access to formal
training and new standards of the industry.
This was also an opportunity for us as a contractor to share the
stories that we learned with the rest of the contractors in
this agency.
This organization is nationwide.
Because of weatherization, BMS has gained the knowledge and
skill to effectively conduct business as a contractor,
has raised the competency level of all our employees throughout
the organization, has expanded the weatherization practice into
homes that can pay for the services.
I like this slide next.
Success stories.
This is what really touched my heart.
In 2010, BMS, contracted by the Neighborhood Centers out of
Houston and the centers were funded by the Texas Department
of Housing and Community Affairs,
BMS was on a team of contractors that worked on 6,
000 homes in the Houston area.
They saw an average of $80 a month reduction in their
energy bill.
This times 15 years, which is the life of the measures that we
put in, is about $90 million.
The government cost to this program, $30 million.
I would like to get that return on my bank account.
(laughter) BMS is a growing company in the new energy and
audit industry, something we never thought we did.
But we made that jump, and we've become more successful.
BMS more skilled has developed a process to provide a service for
a growing demand of homeowners to save money by decreasing
their energy usage.
This is something, when money gets tight -- we talked about
that -- as homeowners, we look for an opportunity
to kind of bridge that gap.
Each and every day, BMS employees educate their clients
in sound energy efficient measures.
Once the homeowner understands the value of the weatherization,
the weatherization in the home, the homeowner has no problem
contracting us out.
It's a great opportunity.
It's hard to see these slides change behind me.
I hope I'm on two.
In summary, BMS success owes it to the learnings we experienced
while performing weatherization.
It's created jobs for those that have been out of work for
an extended period of time.
Many low-income residents of Harris county -- that's in the
Houston area -- live in a more comfortable and energy efficient
home using less of our energy resources.
The homes weatherized cost less to heat and cool,
resulting in decreasing amounts the government pays when energy
assistance is needed by low-income families.
I don't know how to measure that,
but I know that's an added savings because of the program.
A new industry has developed.
I think we've all talked about that.
We are an example of that.
New technology is available in America and is sought by
contractors like BMS and Nationwide.
We bought things from Massachusetts,
we bought things from California,
and we definitely try to get the best bang for the buck,
but we've shared the wealth.
This is a great opportunity for small and minority-owned
companies, since the market is new and it has not been
capitalized by any one company or organization.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is truly an American dream in its
finest form.
I thank you for this opportunity.
Kathleen Hogan: And Rod, do you want to introduce who is up
here with you?
Rod Williams: This is my daughter, Janae Williams,
my right-hand person and the heir apparent to Energy
Specialists and Energy Savers.
I'm here to tell you, or actually to take you back
pre-ARRA back 35 years in weatherization.
I started out with the municipality of
Anchorage -- hello?
All right.
Thank you.
I go back 35 years in weatherization.
I was hired out of -- in 1978 as a CEDA employee with a new
program called Weatherization where the municipality of
Anchorage had just received a $50,000 grant.
Over the next five years, I worked my way up from that to
actually managing the program prior to starting Energy
Specialists of Alaska in 1982.
And since then, migrated to Washington,
and have actually built this company up to the point where
it's at today.
We have seven employees right now doing the ramp-up period for
the ARRA program.
We went up to about 15 employees full-time and four
part-time employees.
Energy Savers, Inc., is based out of Washington,
and it has grown tremendously over the past seven or
eight years.
And we are realizing that for me,
I've always looked at weatherization more from
the social aspect.
I'm going into people's homes, I'm in their space,
and we're actually having the ability at that point to make a
connection on a level, you know, even greater than what the
impact of the energy savings are going to be.
And sometimes I feel that aspect is missed when we're looking at
the effects that we have in people's homes and in
their lives.
We're also are actually having the opportunity to affect a lot
of young people.
A lot of my staff that we have, these are people that are low
income individuals themselves.
I'm working with young people that didn't come out of high
school and go into college.
These are people that basically came out with no idea of how
life was going to present itself to them,
and to be able to work with these individuals and help them
mature and grow, and for them, and watching them to be able to
take that same attitude that I'm instilling in them,
and the care that I'm taking to develop them and watching them
use that ability to be able to go in and work with people from
that same caring attitude is just -- has been a phenomenal
and amazing experience for me to watch and grow over the
past 35 years.
We have a lot of our pictures here.
Some of our pictures, the PowerPoint was put together by a
friend of mine in Alaska.
So these are some of the housing stock that we actually work in
-- on, in the northern part of our business.
One of the -- here we go.
One of the benefits of ARRA for Energy Specialists and Energy
Savers is that we have also been able to go in and build these
generational -- I call this our building generational community.
This is where we've actually -- this is my crew lead in a
project that we did in Alaska last year.
And he called this lady his grandmother.
And she -- every time we come in she's making cookies and coffee
and, you know, just really telling us stories about her
experiences growing up in rural Alaska.
Now, getting back to what ARRA has really done for my company,
and we've had an opportunity to branch outside of the
single family.
For probably the first 30 years of my business,
we only worked in low income, single family residences.
And so over the past two years through the ARRA program,
we've been able to branch more into multifamily,
some light commercial work.
These are some of the buildings we've worked on.
Here are some five stories, low income housing projects.
Tremendous results.
I mean, we're proud of the energy savings that we've been
able to generate.
And yet at the same time, developing techniques on a level
that has allowed us to move from the single family or maybe is
more so expand into areas outside of the single family and
to continue to promote and grow our business,
even though we're having these economic downturns and reduced
spendings in the weatherization program.
These are some of the projects that we worked on this year in
Cordova, Alaska, here.
They -- of course, everybody knows they got hit with,
you know, unseasonably high snowfall this year.
We were able still to get inside some of these projects and do
some very valuable weatherization work in those
areas, as well.
Here's our crews with our -- one of our insulation trucks blowing
insulation into air sealing and blowing insulation
into the attic.
We were also at this particular project,
did an underfloor air sealing insulation package.
Here one of our guys is doing -- this is a picture of a guy doing
some -- actually the air sealing in the insulation part
of this project.
You heard earlier about, you know,
people really don't see the effects of what's actually
happening on the ground floor, or we say where the rubber meets
the road, you know.
Here's a guy crawling in a crawl space.
And I have a crew -- because the majority of our work is in
attics and crawl spaces.
And I had a crew in a crawl space for six months, you know.
I felt so bad for these guys, but that's where the work is.
So -- and, you know, they didn't, you know,
they didn't cry about it.
They realized the nature of the work.
But we provide the best safety equipment for my crews.
We make sure they have the -- whatever tool they need to be
able to perform their task to the best of their ability and
try -- we always attempt to make them as comfortable as we
possibly can.
And you can see how happy this young man is.
You know, this guy, he loves to work.
And the fact that this ARRA program was able to give him a
job and to assist him and his family in providing for their
needs, you know, he's just -- he's appreciative
beyond measure.
And again, so for me, I remember going out working
on my first project.
We had a $1,500 budget.
And if you can imagine the 6,500 and what we're able to do with
that, imagine going into somebody's house who's paying 5
or $6 a gallon for fuel, and try to figure out how to
make $1,500 make a difference.
And now that we're at a point now in our growth as a nation
and as individuals, we shouldn't be trying to limit our abilities
because of the funding levels.
We should be encouraged right now to actually raise this limit
to create the most amount of savings that we possibly can,
because this is probably the last opportunity we're going to
have to do this work.
And this young girl here, she's hoping that we're going
to make the right decisions.
Kathleen Hogan: Well, thank you.
I think we just heard some great stories about the program,
its national importance, what it's doing in the supply chain
with insulation, and really what it's doing on the field from two
different -- or two ends of our country, there's more than two,
but Texas and up in the northwest.
I'd like to open it up now for questions from the audience.
Speaker: There's a microphone over here that we would request
that you use.
Otherwise, the live stream won't be able to hear.
Tim Warfield: Good morning.
My name is Tim Warfield.
And I've been forced to ask the first question.
(laughter) I have talked to Mr. Williams yesterday and I'm
-- we want to thank all of the business folks and the suppliers
for being here.
You are more than an important part of this.
I would be interested in what more you would have to say about
the people who are being served, the low income people who are
being served by this program.
Benito Hernandez: I -- I was low income.
I was raised in one of the projects out of
southeast Houston.
And what I see today is I see the families really
enjoying that home.
An HVAC contractor going into a home,
they would have never seen that before.
Now the home is very comfortable.
The humidity is down low, it's nice and cool,
and the utility bill is lower, giving them an opportunity to
buy some Christmas gifts.
I mean, it's that simple.
It's a great opportunity.
Families are starting to look at that.
And there's also a behavior change.
I see maybe a behavior change where somebody's
showing they care.
And then maybe they'll keep that home up better.
If they get a set of filters every time that we leave,
there's 12 of them, the agency asks us to do that,
so the maintenance that we didn't see before,
hopefully we're going to be seeing it now.
That's my say.
Rod Williams: I don't believe anybody woke up one day and went,
I want to be a low income person.
(laughter) I mean, life shows up, you know.
And I remember working on a house a couple years ago,
and this single lady was walking around in the middle of the day
with a coat on and boots on in her house because she was afraid
to turn her thermostat up above 58 degrees or 55 degrees,
because she didn't want the local utility company cutting
her power off because she couldn't afford to make
her payments.
And I told her, I says, when we finish this work,
we're going to reduce your fuel consumption by,
I feel a minimum based on what the readings were on her house,
35 to 40%.
I said, at that point, you should be able to turn your
thermostat at least up to 68 without increasing your current
energy costs.
And when we finished our project,
it was still a challenge for her.
She had gotten so used to walking around in her house in
the middle of the winter bundled up like she was going outside.
And so, for me, too, initially when I started my business,
for the first five years, I qualified for the
weatherization program.
You know, you just never know how this is -- what life
is going to throw your way.
So again, any opportunity that we can to make people more
comfortable, give them the opportunity to reengage in life
and in their life experience, you know,
I feel it's our duty if we can assist.
Janae Williams: And I wanted to add that it's also healthier.
We're working on a lot of people's homes that are elderly
and, you know, have children with asthma,
and once we go in and we air seal and we, you know,
install the proper ventilation, it makes it healthier for these
people, as well as the combustion safety factor and
adding carbon monoxide detecters and all of that, as well.
Don Mathis: Hi.
First I want to thank Ms. Hogan, Mr. Carson and the White House
for convening this session.
This has really been good.
And thank you all for the work you do.
My name is Don Mathis.
I'm with the Community Action Partnership.
And I want to follow up a little bit on what Tim
Warfield just said.
He usually anticipates all the good questions.
But as the President talks about growing and expanding the middle
class, what strikes me is the young girl that I saw in the
picture, maybe a Head Start kid, her home is now safer,
and she's moving from a low income family to maybe a more
self-sufficient family by virtue of what you provide.
The young adults that are being employed that maybe were
unemployed and high school dropouts before,
maybe now they have a job and they're moving from the lower
class, economically poor, to describing middle classness.
Can you talk a little bit more about some of the human faces
and whether, you know, in the long term,
especially some of you who have been doing this for years,
have seen a real elevation of the income level of the people
you've served and how they have been entering the middle class
by virtue of the work you provide.
Rod Williams: Well, I have a young man -- actually,
he's not a young man, he's probably about 50 now.
But he's worked with -- for me for over 20 years off and on.
And he bought his first house this year.
And I didn't see that coming, you know.
But here he was.
And now it's like, he shows up to work, he says, you know,
I got to work, I got bills to pay, you know.
And it's just, you talking about something that just really makes
your heart feel full of joy.
That was one of the most amazing -- one of the most amazing
experiences I've had in this program.
Chris Hoch: Also the program is very well monitored.
I'd say the quality is very well emphasized by all our contract
owners, I guess.
The people that we hire, we train them.
We make them more employable next time.
I don't see them being in the unemployment line any time
soon with the skill that they've learned.
We have nate certification.
We have EPA certification.
If they ever leave our company, they'll have definitely some
credentials to get another job.
I think that's important.
Out -- every time they talk to a resident,
some of our residents are people that we go into homes,
they don't see very many people too many times.
They don't see that in the community.
They don't see anybody outside the community because the
neighborhoods that we service, they're real tight knit.
They don't have the opportunity to go out.
When they see our people come in there with their shirts and
their trucks and stuff like that,
hopefully we've been able to inspire and we show them the
energy efficiency, maybe they'll have some money to start buying
more books and educate their kids.
But I see their kids hanging around with our technicians,
our technicians are very easy to show them the meters,
the technology, the infrared gun.
When we show them the technology going in the field,
I think we're stimulating some interest in more
higher education.
Hasho Gaswami: Good morning.
My name is Hasho Gaswami.
I am from the Institute of Building Technology and Safety,
a not-for-profit organization formed by League of Cities,
National Association of Counties,
ICMA and National Governors Association.
I do know from personal experience that the
weatherization program has done a lot of good.
And these stories prove that.
My point of coming here is that I still find a disconnect
between the elected officials at the local levels to fully
understand what this program has done.
This meeting also to some extent seems to be talking
to the choir.
And I feel that the earlier comment which was made that we
need to take this message to the small communities,
to let them see what the real examples are,
the success stories will be a way forward.
And I see less effort than what needs to be done.
I think that the training which you are talking about,
the impact, the quality which I think is ultimately of value,
is not a succinct message and it's not being transferred in my
opinion that well to the elected official and to the
local communities.
And I believe that this is an important missing point.
And being a link in that area, I can see that gap a lot more
clearly and I will urge that the benefits which have been
obtained, the observations which are reliable,
and they prove that this program has worked well,
is not that well publicized, and a little bit more effort
needs to be done.
Kathleen Hogan: Let's start with Annette on this one.
Annette Odren: I definitely want to take this one.
We totally agree with you.
That's actually what AFTOA does.
That very piece you're talking about is how do we get the
positive stories to the elected officials who get to vote on
whether or not these programs get any money.
We were on Capitol Hill yesterday.
There's some folks that were there with us,
they're down at the end of the table,
the Williamses were there with us.
And there's other folks out in the audience that are here today
that will be in the second panel.
Absolutely, the people who make that decision need to hear these
good stories.
But I'm going to turn some of that back to everybody else
who's sitting in the audience and anybody who's watching this
live stream.
If you think that this program is valuable,
you have your own representatives.
You should contact them and let them know that.
They need to hear from you.
If you're shy, contact us and we'll help you.
We'd be happy to help you.
If you want to come to D.C. and go talk to your representatives,
well, heck, we'll go with you, we will walk you through these
halls, they're confusing, no problem.
But you can't say, gosh, somebody ought to get this
story out and not stand up.
Because, you know, that whole thing about, you know,
I thought somebody ought to do something,
and then I looked around and realized I was the
somebody, right.
So that's the one thing I want to say.
And the other thing that I want to say is that they don't
necessarily want to listen too much.
So if you can get ahold of your local press,
positive press and negative press, believe me,
people who run for election, they respond to that, right.
So don't just talk to them in person.
Get the word out in your local news where voters who might
decide not to reelect that person will have a little bit
of a say.
Hasho Gaswami: If I may, I think this is a very good
suggestion that we should talk to our elected officials.
Annette Odren: Yes.
Hasho Gaswami: May I suggest that don't even -- always look
at the elected official as your congressman.
Your council members, the local politicians,
the League of Cities, the --
Annette Odren: Yes.
Hasho Gaswami: -- associations,
the National Association of Counties,
are stepping stones to make that message heard a little bit
more loudly.
Annette Odren: And that's a great suggestion.
I can't do anything about that right here,
but everybody else sitting out here can do that.
It's not just at the federal level.
You are absolutely right.
It's every local, county, state step in between.
Hasho Gaswami: Our organization will be very proud
to be part of that equation because we are that --
Annette Odren: Great, let's exchange cards.
Hasho Gaswami: I will do that.
Kathleen Hogan: Thank you for your comment.
Bob Scott: Hi, I'm Bob Scott from NASCSP.
And I've been in the program a long time,
even though Rod has me beat by a year or two, I'm glad of that.
(laughter) And Rod, I know I speak for you,
as well as myself and several others in the room.
In that time span, we've seen a lot of changes in this program,
a lot of evolution.
Technology changes all the time.
But one thing that's remained very constant is one of the
measures in my mind of a successful program is
pumping insulation.
And I'd like to direct this question to Chris.
You really didn't mention the amount of cellulose that you
produce for the weatherization program.
I'm just curious in terms of pounds, in terms of bags,
in terms of dollars, how much cellulose do you
produce for weatherization?
Chris Hoch: Well, it's hard to put an exact number on it,
and it sort of goes up and down over the past few years,
depending on the funding for the weatherization programs.
But as an example, when I bought this business 14 years ago,
we were doing about a million dollars in sales and we had
11 employees.
And we have 32 employees today and we're doing well over $10
million in sales.
And that's about a million three,
1.3 million bags of insulation.
I would say a very significant part of that goes to the
weatherization program.
And there are a lot of people that are fortunately in the
northeast, the housing stock generally tends to be older than
the rest of the country.
And a lot of that housing is multifamily housing.
And so with the programs that we have,
the weatherization programs, we're able to do pretty
significant projects with it.
But I can't give you a specific number as to exactly how much is
going into the weatherization program.
But a lot.
Obviously, we use cellulose insulation for retrofit,
which includes weatherization, and for new construction.
I think we all know that over the past five years or so,
new construction has not been a key driver.
So weatherization has definitely been an important factor.
Benito Hernandez: Kathleen, if I may.
I think another thing that is important to know is not the
amount of insulation that we put in,
the amount of insulation that was not there from
the beginning.
I mean, it echoed, some of the attics echo in there and a 3 or
$400 light bill is not uncommon because of no insulation and the
ducts are leaking and it's vetting out in the attic.
Have you experienced that, Rod?
Rod Williams: Yes.
Benito Hernandez: I mean, that is sad.
That many houses, no insulation at all.
Al Chakini: Hi, my name is Al Chakini.
I'm the president of a software company called Libra.
I don't know if the question is for the panel,
but maybe for other folks.
It seems that this should be -- funding of this program,
and the program itself should be a bipartisan issue and a
bipartisan support.
The reason for that is the homes are the recipient.
They're the primary recipient.
They span all types of people who come into the home,
family after family, because the home persists, okay.
So that gives us, second reason, savings.
Energy savings, energy independence moving forward,
okay, over and over again.
Third reason.
If we accumulate it all together,
they're all eligible for tax credits, the carbon tax credit.
You can achieve carbon tax credits by the
continued savings.
It reduces global warming, okay, reduces those types of costs,
those types of effects.
It has a health effect on the recipients, okay.
So it affects our health program,
the amount of money that we spend on it.
It has so many different positives that come out of it,
it should be supported strongly.
It's a program that gives back money, right.
If you spend $30 million, you save $90 million,
that's a program that pays for itself.
The other thing that seems to be slightly inconsistent is when
you have seed capital, like the Arafats,
and you think about it as a business,
the seed capital comes into a business in order to grow the
infrastructure of the business, and we heard how the companies
are affected and can now become commercialized, okay.
So it's kind of -- it seems to be a business savvy investment
on the part of the government, on the part of the taxpayer that
should be diminishing -- or not giving diminishing returns,
but be giving more returns.
So given all of these positive things,
in a positive program that benefits a lot of people,
you know, not only those in need, but those into the future,
that it's not a give-away program,
it's not a handout program, why is the funding being cut to
before ARRA levels?
Annette Odren: Can I have the political questions?
Benito Hernandez: I wouldn't touch it.
Annette Odren: The short answer is that before ARRA,
the program really was almost invisible to most people.
If you've got a quite small program that's running about,
you know, again, between 210 and 240 over the last number
of years before ARRA, nobody really pays a whole
lot of attention to it.
And yes, some folks might say we're going to zero it out.
But other people come along and say, nah, it's just too good,
let them have their regular money and then
things just go on.
If you dump $5 billion into a small network like that,
you hit them then with Davis-Bacon and historic
preservation, and so then they slow down because you told
them to stop.
So it's really hard to get going when the federal government says
don't do anything.
But then, they get berated in the press for not having
produced when they've been told not to.
Well, gee, if there should be -- I'm sure this isn't the story of
our country -- any lack of bipartisan camaraderie,
and you've had a program that's been supported by one side,
and the fact that it was supported by one side and
entrusted with a chunk of money by one side,
the other side can come along and no matter what the reasons
are, can say if you're going to support it,
if you're going to say it's shovel ready,
if you're going to say it's a good thing, we hate it, okay.
And if you're going to look only for the bad stories,
you will find some.
The figures from the last audit that came through,
and this is the federal audit, somebody please yell the name
of that audit.
Alice, what was the name of the audit?
The IG --
Speaker: IG.
Annette Odren: The IG audit.
Thank you, Brad.
The IG audit found that one half of 1% of the ARRA funds
were misspent.
That's pretty good.
But you do -- that does mean there are some stories that you
can say, man, they sure screwed up right there.
That's right.
One half of 1%, they screwed up.
But if that's what you put on every single newspaper and talk
radio and TV show and say that is what weatherization is,
then it's very easy to say we shouldn't give them any money,
you know.
These people, look how they screwed up, right.
Look at the story.
So that's a big part of it.
It became politicized, it became the target that it has been
because the ARRA money was so big that then they took notice.
So the fact that it should be bipartisan because it works,
and I'm not a liberal, conservative, whatever.
I'm not Democrat or Republican.
I'm one of those weirdo independents that swings all
of the elections, okay.
That would be me.
So I think it should be bipartisan, too.
I mean, what a win-win.
But the reality is, they're going to fight with each other
no matter what.
And that's really sadly what the reason is.
Kathleen Hogan: Yeah.
And I just want to bring us around to why we're
here today, right.
We're here today because we can stand here today and talk about
the great success of the weatherization program
throughout the Recovery Act.
You know, I read a lot of the reports that came through the
office and I think one of the things that stood out report
after report after report was the reason the IG was able to
look at some of the issues is because first and foremost they
were found by the people in the field,
they were problems that were in the process of being corrected,
and they really were caught by the QA/QC system in place.
So, again, there's not -- there's not going to be
zero incidences.
But what it really showed was the system was working.
And it really comes back to the stories we're hearing now from
this panel about all the good things that this program does do
on the ground.
And I think these are stories that do resonate regardless of
political party.
And it really brings us back to the challenge going forward of
just getting these stories out in front of the people that need
to hear them.
So thank you.
Speaker: Good morning.
Kathleen Hogan: Last question.
Use it well.
Speaker: I am.
I'm actually -- it's less of a question.
I just really want to commend the weatherization assistance
program, and Bob Adams and you, my fellow Baltimorean,
Deputy Secretary.
But I think we cannot get away from the real economic value
that was raised by the young man in front of me of the impact
that you've had on health as well as creating jobs
and creating better opportunities in communities.
And I know that those of us who come from the healthy homes
arena are really grateful for what we've done in
weatherization assistance.
Because extreme heat and extreme cold are big ticket factors.
And what we have saved in Medicaid and health insurance
costs by you all doing the job the right way,
which Bob has ensured, I think is an economic value
that should be part of the argument on the Hill.
We're going to help you make part of that argument.
But I really want to commend the U.S.
Department of Energy in this because they took great
leadership on the federal interagency work group on
healthy housing and expanded the impact of
weatherization assistance.
So I was just here to add to the choir and wrap up this line
of comments.
Thank you.
Kathleen Hogan: Thank you.
So I think we're going to move on to the -- oh,
it's a break, right, or our next panel?
Speaker: Yup.
Thank you so much.
Kathleen Hogan: Thank you.
Thank you.
One more round for the panel.
Speaker: Thank you.
We are running just a little bit behind schedule,
so we're going to take about a two-,
three-minute break and at this time I'd like to invite our next
panel of panelists to come on up.
Thank you again.