to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
Program Makes Headway Despite Covid-19
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, HeatSmart Tompkins has worked with other NYS Clean Heating and Cooling Communities to modify its outreach practices. We have transitioned to virtual programming, enhanced accessible opportunities for Low-Median-Income program participants, and maintained active engagement with state agencies and our local contractor partners.
Our new webinar series and virtual home tours have allowed us to effectively communicate with residents while accelerating an awareness of heat pump technologies. We have been presenting case studies of local residents who have successfully switched to energy efficient heating systems. The implementation of remote meetings has strengthened our partnerships with the local installers.
Somewhat to our surprise, we have exceeded our expectations with the virtual campaign. Our online presence has proven to be an invaluable resource for continuing to attract enrollees. We shall continue to utilize this approach until in-person meetings might be conducted more safely and residents again become comfortable with that format.
Most of our target audience remains concerned with social distancing. Therefore, we will continue with online events for the foreseeable future. We hope that our strengthened digital presence will draw interest from younger residents to our work as well. An additional benefit of remote events is that they may be easily recorded for viewing after the conclusion of the program and participants may join from other geographic locations in the state. It is also easier for our installer partners, who do not have to leave their worksite, to participate and answer questions.
Our other outreach methods include mass-distribution of postcards, expanding our social media presence, and phone-banking. These measures will continue to provide us with alternative modes of communication with the community.
HeatSmart Tompkins is a proud partner with Sustainable Tompkins, which is the lead organization for a neew intiative aimed at engaging Low-Median-Income (LMI) residents to consider clean energy technology adoption. This partnership has allowed for increased accessibility and effectiveness of our program for LMI participants. As a result, we have been able to improve our efforts significantly to make energy efficiency accessible to all.
Lisa Marshall, a longtime activist with Mothers Out Front, was promoted this spring to co-program director from her previous role as the Lansing HeatSmart coordinator. Dana Grover and Nina Pingon have also come on board as interns this summer, and have helped to move our programming online. In addition, Dailey Geothermal joined our installer partner team, which also includes Halco Energy, Snug Planet, and NP Environmental.
Future plans include:
Expanding the number of documented case studies, both residential and commercial, to showcase the benefits of installing renewable energy technologies for heating and cooling.
Developing and piloting some messaging options targeting the small commercial sector (less than 10,000 sf) for energy efficiency and heat pump installations.
Developing case studies to identify classes of, as well as specific shovel-ready projects, that we can promote for federal green infrastructure stimulus funding when it becomes available to promote economic development and job growth.
Pursuing some local residential canvassing options as we move into the fourth phase of the COVID-reopening process.
- Dana Grover and Nina Pingon, HeatSmart Tompkins Interns, TCCPI Newsletter, May-June 2020