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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Cold Climate Community Solutions – Duluth Energy Efficiency Program

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Duluth, Minnesota

Federal Funding: $500,000
Project Timeline: February 2011 – January 2014

Latest Update

The Duluth Energy Efficiency Program (DEEP) continues to increase residential energy efficiency through home retrofit projects. DEEP has completed energy efficiency upgrades for 759 single-family homes and 13 multi-family buildings to date. DEEP has focused on providing energy retrofit assistance to households affected by a flood that occurred in June 2012, and the City of Duluth has incorporated the Duluth Energy Efficiency Standards into the rebuilding efforts.

DEEP is developing the Duluth One-Stop Energy Shop where homeowners can:

  • get energy scores;
  • sign up for audits;
  • obtain referrals to other community energy programs;
  • receive financial and technical counseling;
  • get assistance on bidding out home energy improvements;
  • borrow energy testing equipment; and
  • attend community education classes.

The City recently launched a program with four churches in the Duluth area to improve energy use at their facilities. The pilot program contributes to a church "energy fund" for church energy improvements based on member participation in residential energy audits. In the upcoming quarter, DEEP will continue to press forward with this congregational program.

Project Summary

Making Energy Affordable for All Duluth Residents

The City of Duluth developed the Duluth Energy Efficiency Program (DEEP) to create jobs, lessen the energy affordability gap faced by Duluth families, retain energy dollars currently exported from the city, and reduce Duluth's carbon footprint. DEEP focuses on residential energy efficiency and is developing best practices for community behavior change and the installation of energy efficiency measures. DEEP is working to improve housing affordability and reduce energy costs through four "pathways," each focusing on a different residential circumstance, including single-family, multi-family (5+ units), do-it-yourself, and low-income advanced energy retrofits. The program recognizes the different barriers to energy efficiency faced in each of these circumstances and has developed pathway-specific resources for each.

For single-family households, DEEP provides energy counseling that takes participants through audits, actual improvements, and quality assurance. All improvements are installed by Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified contractors. The multi-family pathway, on the other hand, provides options for both landlords and tenants to save on their energy bills. Tenants receive low- or no-cost measures to reduce electric and water usage, and landlords are encouraged to help organize tenant workshops to maximize participation and landlord audit subsidies. For individuals who would rather do their own improvements, the do-it-yourself pathway provides access to a specialized workshop and a BPI technician who conducts blower door testing, scope development, one day of side-by-side assistance, and follow-up quality assurance. Finally, the low-income pathway of the program rehabilitates blighted, foreclosed, and condemned structures. These structures serve as training sites for current state inmates, supervised by trained carpenters. All rehabilitated buildings will have a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating over 70. Building purchasers will then attend DEEP workshops to receive information on behavioral change energy reductions.

For all pathways, DEEP conducts outreach to find participants, assists with a Home Energy Rating, maintains a database of all clients, and offers workshops and demonstrations tailored to client's needs, as well as tailored financing assistance, home performance audits, and quality assurance follow-up once improvements are made. In addition to reducing energy use, energy costs, and greenhouse gases, the program will create awareness of lead and radon testing, improve indoor air quality, create jobs, and develop affordable housing.

Community Characteristics

Population 84,463
Area 68 square miles
Government Type City
Community Type Urban
Median Household Income $39,602

Program Results

  Reported Results (as of September 2013) Projected Cumulative Results
Annual GHG Reductions 1,887 mt CO2e 7,012 mt CO2e
Annual Electricity Savings 0 MWh 5,000 MWh
Green Jobs Created 6.4 10
Annual Energy Cost Savings $311,091 $680,000

Project Website

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