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Three energy-efficient public housing authorities adopt SEED program, enriching education and efficiency in local communities

By Blakely Jarrett, ICF on Dec 14, 2017

Better Buildings Challenge partners have always been market-drivers in energy efficiency, and our Multifamily partners are no exception. Three partners – all Public Housing Authorities – joined the SEED initiative to open up opportunities for sustainability and energy efficiency in their communities.

SEED, which stands for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Energy, and Economic Development, is a cross-agency federal pilot program that prepares public housing residents for current and future STEM and technical jobs by increasing energy literacy, providing learning opportunities, and connecting residents to training opportunities for careers in the space. 

What is the Better Buildings Initiative doing with SEED Programs?

Several housing authorities that are part of the Better Buildings Challenge have successfully adopted SEED programs. The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) in Ohio, the Housing Authority of City of Tampa, Florida (THA) and the Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver, Colorado (DHA) have joined the SEED pilot program, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

Since joining SEED, CMHA has been able to integrate energy efficiency and STEM education across many of its existing programs, which has helped the agency progress toward its Better Buildings Challenge energy reduction goals. The SEED program’s structure has served as a vehicle to foster new relationships and expand existing partnerships with local organizations, which has increased CMHA’s capacity to educate residents on the benefits of reducing energy use. First Energy provided CMHA with thousands of energy-saving kits to distribute to residents to assist with their energy literacy efforts on-site. Meanwhile the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland Municipal School District, and the Cleveland Public Theatre have worked with CMHA to develop after-school programming and real-world experiences to engage students on STEM topics and resources – from hands-on projects to plays about the benefits of energy efficiency. 

Tampa Housing Authority adopted the name SEEDS (STEAM, Energy, and Economic Development Solutions) for a Sustainable Tampa as its platform to promote new SEED activities. The housing authority intentionally expanded STEM to STEAM to include the Arts. To that end, More Health, a local education and training non-profit, contributed programming to teach families about food science and cooking healthy on a budget. Other THA education partners included Hillsborough County Public Library Services, Straz Performing Arts Center, and Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay. All three of these organizations played a role in providing further enrichment opportunities to THA residents under the STEAM umbrella – from arts enrichment at Opera Tampa to financial literacy courses.

Rounding out our list of SEED successes in the Better Buildings Challenge is The Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver, which provides SEED programming in the Sun Valley Eco-District, one of HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods on the west side of Denver. DHA has worked with local institutions to increase STEM education opportunities for nearly 800 residents, which resulted in the newly-created Light Industrial Jobs Academy that provides residents with national certifications geared toward jobs available in the neighborhood.

HUD is assessing the impact of the program across all pilot sites in preparation for a possible second cohort. For more information on these Better Buildings Challenge SEED projects, please explore the Better Building Solution Center.