International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (ICAST)

The Futures Project: Solving Climate, Housing and Workforce Challenges

Lead Organization

International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (ICAST)

Lakewood, Colorado, United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

The rising costs of housing and health care coupled with stagnant wages and a shrinking social safety net make life challenging for low-to-moderate income (LMI) populations across the USA. LMI households are bearing a larger burden of the impact of climate change while having minimal access to opportunities in the growing green economy. ICAST has been developing sustainable, innovative and scalable solutions to these issues that leverage its multisector expertise. ICAST provides multifamily properties (predominantly occupied by LMI households) with green solutions (e.g. clean energy, healthy homes, etc.) which reduce utility and health care costs, and improve the quality of life for its LMI residents. ICAST also provides access to green financing, LMI green workforce training and job placement, and strategically leverages its multi-sector expertise to achieve: preservation of affordable housing, reduction of carbon emissions, and poverty alleviation in LMI communities.

Problem Statement

The crisis we face in tackling climate change, affordability of housing and health care, access to living wages, and their complex intersections are extremely imposing. But solutions do exist and ICAST is driven to meeting these challenges. This decade has seen steep increases in the cost of housing and health care. Add stagnant wages and a shrinking social safety net and life has become very challenging for the LMI population. To make things worse, LMI households bear the brunt of the impact of these deteriorating conditions as they live in inefficient and unhealthy housing that cost more in utility bills and health care. Leaky windows increase utility costs to keep the home heated or cooled while creating uncomfortable drafts or worse cause mold, which impacts health. Old HVAC systems run inefficiently and increase utility bills while also spewing Carbon Monoxide, resulting in chronic health problems. These issues are especially magnified for folks who earn less to begin with and are straddled with higher costs and even less opportunity to better their lives. These problems exist in part due to the difficulty in serving the multifamily market, where many LMI individuals live and the serious inequity in the green energy industry. Green upgrades to existing multifamily properties are a scalable solution because they pay for themselves through reduced utility and maintenance costs. Capturing health care savings and carbon credits can further enhance their scalability. With the right approach and partners, green upgrades can help solve the problems listed above.

Solution Overview

ICAST is focused on providing green upgrades to multifamily properties because national data shows over 60% of the households living in multifamily properties qualify as LMI [4]. Green upgrades in multifamily housing reduce utility and health care costs, thus increasing the affordability of housing. Green upgrades also reduce fossil fuel consumption thus impacting climate change. Additionally, ICAST offers workforce training opportunities for LMI populations to retrofit their housing within their communities while creating the jobs of the future. of the ICAST solution is focused on benefitting those most disadvantaged: seniors, disabled, LMI families, and the un and under employed. ICAST measures its progress by tracking impact metrics including number of LMI households served, the utility cost savings and carbon emission reductions achieved, number of LMI persons trained in green construction, etc.Over the five-year grant, ICAST plans to have a broad impact by serving a million LMI households nationally, saving them $500 Million in utility bills annually, reducing carbon emission by 10 Million tons over the life of the green upgrades and providing green job training to 400,000 LMI residents. ICAST will also train a dozen like-minded organizations on its approach and processes. ICAST believes that with help of these “franchisees,” it can serve LMI populations globally, offering them better housing that is more affordable, and providing them green job opportunities, while impacting climate change.

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Project Funders

  • Department of Energy 2016 - 2021
  • Edwards Mother Earth Foundation 2016 - 2020
  • Rocky Mountain Power 2017 - 2020

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