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Action Plans, Adaptation Plans, and Demystifying Wall Insulation

Last month at the Sustainable Claremont Board meeting there was talk about climate change action and adaptation and about the Oberlin Project, funded by philanthropy, tax credits, and Federal grants, in which Oberlin College, the City of Oberlin, Oberlin City Schools, and private sector organizations are working together to build a “post-fossil fuel based economy”. This project was created to respond to“converging crises of climate destabilization, environmental deterioration, rising inequity”. It includes revitalizing the city, increasing energy efficiency and starting renewable energy projects, redirecting the surrounding 20,000 acres of greenbelt from declining farms and urban sprawl to profitable agriculture and forestry production, and more. It’s an action plan to minimize these crises, and an adaptation plan to deal with inevitable future changes.

We have the beginnings of an action plan here in Claremont but less of an adaptation plan. Although our situation is very different from that of Oberlin, we do face many of the same crises, Some aspects of adaptation are even more critical here than in Oberlin; for example, we live in a semi-arid region where water supply is a great concern. Should we consider developing an Adaptation Plan for Claremont to work in conjunction with our Sustainable City Plan? We’ve just begun to ask that question, but the consensus seems to be yes. If you would like to be involved in creating an adaptation plan, please let us know.

Meanwhile, what of our Action Plan? We are making good progress in energy conservation. CHERP (Claremont Home Energy Retrofit Project) is having considerable success in helping Claremonters make their homes more energy-efficient: our City alone, with about 40 whole-house retrofits, accounts for about a quarter of all those done in the Los Angeles area under Energy Upgrade California. We would like to see hundreds more retrofits in our community. This is an especially good time to do them because there is currently more than $6,000 per household in rebates available. The rebate amount depends on the percentage of energy saved (estimated using mathematical models) so this can be particularly attractive for smaller, older houses where attic and wall insulation is typically poor and retrofit costs are likely to be smaller. This means lower fuel use and energy costs, and a more comfortable living space at an affordable cost.

One of the most vexing problems in moving forward on a home energy retrofit is how to be sure you are choosing the right contractor. There are now about a hundred qualified contractors listed on the website “”. How do you make sure you are getting the scope and quality of work you want? It’s not easy. There is much to know about the specifics of whole-house energy retrofits. That’s why experts working with CHERP are preparing and posting detailed lists of questions to ask about various aspects of energy retrofits: for example, about wall insulation, attic insulation, ductwork design and repair, and HVAC systems. This is a “must read” to insure that you get the most value for your investment. The first list, on wall insulation, will soon be available on the Sustainable Claremont website. The list includes such topics as why cellulose is the best insulation to use, how it should be applied for best results, and even a way to estimate energy savings that will result. Other lists will follow. The next will be on attic insulation, which is even more effective than wall insulation in reducing energy use since attics get very hot in the summer. We may not be able to stop climate change entirely, but we can do a lot to adapt to it.

For more information go to the Sustainable Claremont website, where the Energy & CHERP section is being updated.

Demystifying Sustainability is a project of Sustainable Claremont (