live / 2014

Green The Block

Green The Block

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Green Education Inc.

The Green the Block Initiative is a collaborative effort to create energy efficient and healthy homes, yards and neighborhoods.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Partner with stakeholders to educate and transform communities into green sustainable neighborhoods.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Long Beach

What is your idea/project in more detail?

The Green the Block Pilot, is a collaborative effort led by Green Education Inc., a 501c3 organization, along with 5 other local organizations based in Long Beach, CA., which will transform one residential block of homes in the West Long Beach area most impacted by GHG emissions. We will create the following conditions upon completion:

 Healthy, energy efficient homes (attic/crawl space insulation, HVAC system, new windows, appliances and water-saving retrofits)  Native/drought tolerant front yard to replace lawn (to include bioswale – storm water runoff catchment system) and gray water system  Victory Farm in back yard provides family with approximately 3-5 vegetable/fruit choices  Community Gardens/Teaching Environment

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

I have contacted community organizations & subject matter experts that have agreed to partner with our organization to “Green The Block” in a West Long Beach neighborhood most impacted by GHG emissions and from local pollution sources.

We will launch with outreach and education to community members in an effort to create awareness/acceptance around environmental health, energy-efficient homes, growing food locally, drought tolerant landscaping and gray water systems, and living more sustainable, green-focused lifestyles.

The next step will be to identify homeowners within a block radius that will participate and support Green The Block efforts. We will identify homeowners via local community groups, churches, neighborhood associations and school groups. Once we have homeowners identified, we will determine home & yard improvements via energy audits, soil tests and urban farming potential evaluations.

Funders will be encouraged to sponsor particular areas of interest to their organization (Victory Farm, Energy Efficiency audits…) and homeowners will be encouraged to provide sweat equity to ensure engagement in the initiative. Local government officials will also be asked to support and promote the initiative as well.

How will your idea/project help make LA the healthiest place to LIVE today? In 2050?

Imagine an entire block of homes in a residential neighborhood retrofitted to ensure healthy indoor air quality, helping to reduce the number of asthma/upper respiratory cases experienced by children and adults each year. Picture the front and back yard of these homes landscaped with either drought tolerant vegetation or food producing plants, being watered with recycled water from gray water systems. And picture neighbors engaged and working with other neighbors to grow fresh food, trade their harvest with other neighbors and help grow a community garden nearby.

We will accomplish this goal block by block, family by family, and in one underserved community after the next, until entire LA neighborhoods are transformed into “Green The Block” communities.

Whom will your project benefit?

Low-income families/homeowners not able to complete energy & health related improvements to their homes Children and adults suffering from asthma/upper respiratory diseases Families living in food desert areas and/or unable to afford quality food choices. Long term unemployed workers, including veterans, working mothers, displaced workers, youth at risk, foster youth and re-entry communities.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Long Beach Fresh - confirmed Foodscape - confirmed Building Healthy Communities - confirmed Spring St. Farm - confirmed Long Beach Office of Sustainability - confirmed Grant & Associates Energy Audits- confirmed

Green Education Inc has worked with all of the above partners on outreach programs via Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Neighborhood Workgroup for the past 3-4 years. We have implemented education programs re: energy efficiency, renewable energy, urban/community farming in the BHC service area in an effort to engage and educate low-income community members about the benefits of green & sustainable lifestyles.

3 factors critical to success: Joint outreach and education effort in target neighborhood to ensure Green The Block initiative is clearly described, behavioral change is achieved, new behaviors are established, reinforced, rewarded and sustainable within each family household. Clear expectations established for each partner organization re: roles, tasks, deliverables, timelines/due dates, goals and budget. Ongoing communication & reporting process is established for project members to ensure all project components are planned, designed, launched and evaluated on a regular basis.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Live” metrics?

  • Access to healthy food
  • Exposure to air toxins
  • Number of households below the self-sufficiency standard
  • Prevalence of adverse childhood experience (Dream Metric)
  • Percentage of LA communities that are resilient (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Victory Farms will be established at each homeowner’s back/front yard, as well as a Community Garden established within a 1-mile radius of homes. Families will be trained in growing and maintaining fresh, healthy food for their households and for their community.

Energy Efficiency audits at each home will determine indoor air quality issues and the measures required to remediate these issues, as well as ensuring a healthy, tight and energy-saving indoor environment.

The Green The Block initiative will work specifically with low-income families in West Long Beach, an area that is seriously impacted by local pollution and GHG emission sources. According to 2014 Census reports, median household income for West Long Beach is $43,464, which is 48% lower than that of Los Angeles.

This initiative will not only create healthier homes for families with individuals suffering from asthma and upper respiratory diseases, but it will also provide homeowners with increased value to their homes and create a “Pride of Ownership” mentality for entire neighborhoods.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

of families participating in Green The Block Outreach & Education sessions.

of families contacted and actually participating in initiative

of residential homes retrofitted with energy efficiency improvements

of residential homes landscaped with drought tolerant plants and receiving gray water system installations

of Victory Farms planted at residential homes

of pounds of food grown in Victory Farm and at Community Garden

of reported asthma-related or upper respiratory illness incidents/hospital visits after energy efficiency improvements completed.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

Over the past several years, millions of dollars were spent on an energy efficiency initiative called “Energy Upgrade CA” that basically excluded low-income homeowners and neighborhoods because of up-front costs and long delays in receiving rebates. Time after time, we conducted program overviews for homeowners that simply could not afford to participate in the program, which was extremely disheartening for homeowners and for our organization as well.

Green Education Inc. was recently involved with a small business energy efficiency outreach program for LADWP. Their small business and home energy efficiency installation programs provided business and homeowners in low-income underserved communities with the opportunity to create healthier homes and businesses, save energy and lower energy bills, and these programs also created apprenticeships with local unions that prepared community members with eventual jobs at LADWP.

The Green The Block initiative was influenced by these two projects - one that was unreachable for underserved communities and the other that has become an example of a project that not only creates healthier homes, businesses and neighborhood environments, but also creates union-connected, good paying jobs as well.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Our estimation for initial outreach and education to an entire block of homeowners is approximately 60 days. Once we accomplish this first phase, we can move into the home & yard audits phase, which is approximately 45 days.

Urban farm groups, native landscapers and energy efficiency contractors will then be tasked with completing their specific function over the next 7-9 months.

This initiative is achievable because of the subject matter experts that will be completing the work. They have many years of experience in their areas of expertise and are extremely knowledgeable in change management and behavioral change approaches for these types of long-term projects as well.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

  1. Resistance or mistrust from families regarding the initiative: Continuous outreach via neighborhood associations, churches, PTSA at local high school, and through local community groups established in the area.

  2. Families reverting back to pre-Green The Block behaviors (using excess energy and water, not tending to Community Garden, Victory Farm and native landscaped yards): Recognize, reward and incentivize families to encourage continuous and sustainable behavior change. Set clear expectation that families will be involved with other components of initiative (sweat equity) to ensure families continue to be engaged. Ensure partners establish the above systems/processes for their specific segment of the initiative. Ensure program metrics are evaluated every 3-6 months to determine transfer of knowledge and sustainability of entire program.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach