The city of Chattanooga will use a $300,000 grant to boost energy efficiency in Highland Park, East Lake, East Chattanooga and Alton Park, according to a news release.
The grant is part of $1.5 million handed out in six Southeastern communities by the Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund.
Mayor Andy Berke said in the release the city is working with EPB and green|spaces, which have ongoing projects in those neighborhoods, and "taking steps to increase access to City-managed HOME grants" such as providing applications in Spanish.
"This commitment from the Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund will allow residents in these areas to save up to 20 percent per month on their household energy costs," Berke said.
The grant money will cover work in 2018 and 2019, helping to streamline programs and processes and making them easier for the needy to access. New programs from green|spaces such as Build it Green (B.I.G.) will begin in January. B.I.G. will recruit youth from neighborhoods with high energy consumption rates and give them classes on basic energy efficiency and construction skills, as well as how to upgrade homes in their communities.
The 12-week program also teaches soft skills such as community building, money management and career preparation. Participants will be paid $10 per hour and can connect with job and higher education opportunities.
EPB hopes to expand its successful Home Energy Upgrade program and will work with green|spaces, Erlanger, Chattanooga and others on a feasibility study for Green and Healthy Homes, a health outcomes-based funding mechanism.
EPB has found 84 percent of homes that received energy upgrades also experienced significant health benefits. The utility also will work on expanding energy efficiency outreach and supporting workforce development and education initiatives funded by the grant.
"This grant is truly an example of how working together works, of how leveraging resources as a community brings more resources to the community," said Elizabeth Hammitt, EPB's director of environmental stewardship and community.
This story was updated Dec. 18, 2017, at 11:25 p.m.