One of many things that my husband and I enjoy doing together is watching super hero movies. Believe me, I’ve seen them all – all of the Batman’s, Spiderman’s, Superman’s, Avenger’s, and individual Hulk, Thor, Iron Man movies, and on and on. One thing that I didn’t see coming was the new HERO in town. This one is a bit different. This HERO helps homeowners renovate their homes to be more energy efficient, grows local jobs, and reduces carbon emissions. Now, that’s a super Hero I want to know more about!
This HERO, or Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, is offered through a public-private partnership between the Missouri Clean Energy District and Renovate America. HERO is the nation’s largest Property Assessed Clean Energy program (PACE) and has been used by over 105,000 homes to make energy and efficiency improvements.
I am not writing about a program that is nationwide and not available here; HERO became available in Jackson County in September 2016. I’ve just now heard about it and if I have my ear to the ground about such things, I’m wondering how many of you have heard about it. Within this first year more than 500 homes in Jackson County have used this innovative financing option to make their homes more energy-efficient. HERO empowers homeowners to make energy and efficiency improvements and to pay for them over time through a voluntary, additional line item on their property taxes; all at no cost to local government budgets. Jackson County officials were among the first in the state to join MCED and give county residents access to PACE through HERO.
“Throughout Missouri, PACE is helping local and state governments reach and expand their energy efficiency goals,” said David Pickerill, Executive Director of MCED. “Jackson County has set an example of how successful PACE can be.
Janice Chronister, mother of four from Kansas City, went without air-conditioning in her home for 10 years. She was unable to replace a 1950s HVAC system because of difficulties accessing financing. HERO allowed her to install an efficient system in August, and she and her family are enjoying her newly comfortable home. “I’m grateful to HERO for the opportunity to make much-needed upgrades to my home,” Chronister said. “My children and grandchildren love to come to my house now.”
By stimulating home improvements, HERO increases demand for local contractor services. It’s estimated that the improvements financed through HERO have created over 75 jobs in and around Jackson County. These are good-paying, local construction jobs that cannot be automated, or outsourced. Local HERO-financed home upgrades are projected to reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 25,000 tons. That’s equivalent to taking more than 5,000 passenger vehicles off the road for a year.
HERO carries consumer protections that go beyond those found with other forms of home improvement financing. HERO requires a live, recorded phone call with a HERO representative to answer questions from homeowners and insure their understanding of the financing terms.
Now that I know about this great opportunity, my husband and I will be looking into the newest super HERO. The one that conquers carbon emissions and saves our GREEN!
-- Lynn Youngblood is the Executive Director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City, Missouri. Reach her at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net