Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 8:30AM-5PM M-F

703-324-7136
TTY 711

12000 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 533
Fairfax, VA 22035

Kambiz Agazi,
Director

HomeWise Program Update: Spring 2021

In October 2020, the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC) launched a new program, called HomeWise, to educate, empower, and enable residents to make changes that reduce energy use, water use, and associated costs in their homes. Read on to find out what has transpired for the HomeWise program in its first seven months.

Volunteer Recruitment and Onboarding

In November 2020, the first class of HomeWise volunteers was selected and welcomed to the program. These volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, but all bring an interest in using their skills and interest in conservation to help the community. Volunteers went through initial onboarding in the late Fall in preparation for the program kick off in January 2021.

Intensive Training

In late January, the HomeWise volunteers began a 10-week training course, covering a wide variety of relevant topics and techniques to aid in their eventual community engagement work. Due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, all volunteer training was conducted virtually, with resources being shared via Google Classroom and volunteers convening periodically with county staff to review important concepts and skills.

A week-by-week overview of the HomeWise training course is outlined below. Each week, volunteers were provided with environmental, technical, and community or social training pertaining to the topic listed.

Training Week Topics Covered
Week One Program Overview, Intro to Energy and Water Savings
Week Two Understanding the Big Picture on Energy and Climate
Week Three Understanding the Big Picture on Water Use
Week Four Energy Vampires
Week Five Showerheads, Faucets, and Toilets
Week Six Light Bulbs
Week Seven Review of Content Covered To Date
Week Eight Weather Stripping and Air Leaks
Week Nine Indoor Environmental Quality
Week Ten Hands-On Skills Training

 

 

Preparation for Community Engagement

In the course of their training, volunteers heard from three subject matter experts outside of the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination. HomeWise benefits greatly from the support of the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), the technical advisor to the program. A representative from LEAP attended an early virtual training session with the volunteers to review key weatherization technical and safety concepts.

Midway through the training course, a representative from the Fairfax County-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB), made a guest appearance at an evening training session and covered basic principles of habit formation and behavior change.

Finally, at the conclusion of the training course, a representative from the Department of Family Services attended an evening training with the HomeWise volunteers and discussed fuel assistance, cooling assistance, and crisis assistance programs administered by the county.

All of these training opportunities support the eventual deployment of the HomeWise volunteers into the community to assist low- and moderate-income residents with energy and water conservation and behavior change to realize cost savings.

With the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic slowly shifting, the HomeWise team is working to establish concrete community engagement opportunities for the inaugural class of volunteers. HomeWise was always envisioned as an in-person, hands-on program and the ultimate goal is to send expertly trained volunteers out into the community on a regular basis to help implement meaningful change for residents.

As in-person engagement becomes safer, the OEEC will announce and promote HomeWise events on this site, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Staffing Up

As summer begins in earnest, the OEEC is seeking to hire a part-time staff member to support the HomeWise program and community outreach. More information on this opportunity is available online here, under “Management Analyst II – ELT-BOS-21000.” All interested and qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant