Published on 10/22/09

Grant funds weatherization, energy education

By Mandi Colson
University of Georgia

A $1.3 million stimulus grant to University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences will help Georgians reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint, and create jobs in Georgia.

Jorge H. Atiles, extension professor of housing and FCS associate dean, received the grant from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority. The authority manages federal stimulus funds from the U.S. Department of Energy for the Georgia Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program.

Weatherization assistance is provided directly by Community Action agencies and similar energy assistance agencies in the state to reduce infiltration and improve energy performance in homes of those on limited-incomes. The $1.3 million grant will fund the first seven months of a UGA Cooperative Extension program that will monitor weatherization activities and provide energy conservation education across the state to Georgians receiving weatherization assistance.

Atiles said the grant will create a sustainable weatherization program that aims to ensure that after homes are weatherized, their occupants will be in the best position to realize energy savings and reduce their carbon footprint. The project will help Georgians meet the Governor´s Energy Challenge to reduce energy bills by 15 percent by 2020.

The current contract is eligible for an additional two-year funding renewal that could exceed $4.5 million for this sustainable weatherization monitoring and education program.

"Through this grant, UGA Cooperative Extension will be able to save at least five jobs and fund 20 new positions reaching every Extension district in the state. We are realizing one of the many goals of the federal stimulus package: the creation and preservation of jobs," Atiles said.

UGA Extension is a partnership between UGA colleges of Family and Consumer Sciences and Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Mandi Colson is a program coordinator with the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.