The city of Cincinnati, OH continues to work towards its goal of achieving 100% renewable energy and reduction of carbon emissions by the year 2050. Its current focus is on achieving equitable energy access in residential buildings. A new small-grants initiative – The Energy Efficiency Matching Grant Program – is now in place to encourage building owners to make energy-efficient upgrades to multifamily buildings – specifically those with low-income tenants.
Working with Duke Energy Ohio, the grant program incentivizes multi-family building owners to make capital upgrades in order to achieve deeper energy savings, reduce tenant energy burden, and resolve the split incentive system that makes it challenging to implement energy-saving measures in multifamily buildings. The program matches owners’ investment in energy efficiency capital improvements dollar for dollar, up to $5,000. Upgrades must directly reduce electricity bills and result in verifiable energy savings for low income tenants. Eligible expenditures include wall, window, or other infrastructure insulation; recycling and replacement of old appliances with Energy Star–certified models; LED lighting; central air conditioning; and efficient water-flow fixtures.
Energy audits have shown that basic energy efficiency upgrades, such as LED light bulbs and weatherization of drafty windows, can result in a nearly 15% cost savings for renters. Building improvements, such as HVAC systems, can achieve a 30-50% cost savings for building owners. The overall result is the potential to significantly lower carbon emissions, and improving the city’s overall energy efficiency.
The city’s Green Cincinnati Plan includes 80 strategies to reduce Cincinnati’s carbon emissions 80% by 2050. Cincinnati is one of 25 cities selected to participate in the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge, which helped support the grant program.