A new agreement between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and iCast, a Lakewood nonprofit, aims to change the energy efficiency for 800 families in the state.
The agreement between the two organizations will give iCast — an organization dedicated to helping small businesses, nonprofits and low-income people make the way they do things more efficient — $590,118 over the next two years to increase the energy efficiency of 800 multifamily, low-income housing units.
iCast was founded out of the Engineering School at the University of Colorado at Boulder by Ravi Malhotra in 2002. The organization moved to the School of Mines until 2007, when it moved to its current location in Lakewood.
“We promote the triple bottom-line benefits — economic, environmental and social — of energy efficiency,” Malhotra said. “The financial bottom line is one everyone understands, but we’re an amalgamation of all three.”
In 2011 iCast retrofitted about 1,000 units, taking a market-based approach rather than a grant-based one. According to Malhotra, the organization helps its clients improve their efficiency using a loan mechanism, through which clients use the money saved from the improvements to help pay back the loan.
In addition to retrofitting the housing units for families as part of the grant project, iCast is tasked with a more innovative aspect: changing the behaviors of the people in at least 400 of the units.
“This covers small things like making sure people turn off the lights, unplug things when they’re not using them, learn how to set up their furniture so couches aren’t covering up vents, so the air circulates,” Malhotra said.
Since the organization’s roots are in Colorado’s universities, iCast has created strong partnerships with some of the state’s major schools in an effort to get students involved in the work being done. The group works with CU’s building systems program, CSU’s construction management department, and with the School of Mines to measure the impact of the changes iCast makes to the homes.
Malhotra said the biggest benefit of the new agreement with HUD is the services it allows iCast to provide.
“We’ll be able to provide the services at a lower cost. The total cost for doing this will be around $3 million. That is all money that will be spent in Colorado, and it will also create jobs,” he said. “All the savings we expect will be passed on to the low-income units. It’s one of those things that keeps on giving.”
For more information on iCast, go to www.icastusa.org.