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Resilience NYC Meetup Group Message Board › How NYC community groups could promote energy efficiency - and earn some income.

How NYC community groups could promote energy efficiency - and earn some income.

Dan M.
Group Organizer
Forest Hills, NY
How NYC community groups could promote energy efficiency - and earn some income.

Can NYC community groups reduce the energy bills for their friends and neighbors, make their community greener, and earn some income for themselves at the same time? Yes, if Con Ed would offer fees to those non-profits for energy efficiency projects coming from their referrals.  It's been proven to work: a Queens group promoting the Green Team program tripled the rate of participation among its constituents. We­'re looking for NYC nonprofits, community & religious groups willing to sign onto a request that Con Ed offer such fees.  Please forward this to your nonprofit contacts.  Thanks!


Proposal for Con Edison to offer fees to community-based nonprofits for energy efficiency upgrade projects coming from their referrals

October 5, 2012

Dear NYC civic leader:

Because community-based nonprofits can reach out to neighbors and networks of close relationships, they can be very effective marketing partners in sustainability projects.  The key is to craft projects in which everyone comes out ahead, so that these groups can serve their constituents and earn income, while making themselves and the city more sustainable.

For example, energy efficiency upgrades and installations of solar energy systems have been successfully promoted by LIC Partnership.*  We believe that if Con Ed were to offer all nonprofits an incentive for referrals for Green Team upgrades, citywide participation in the program would skyrocket, to the benefit of all involved.  We invite your organization to sign on in support of making this request of Con Edison.  Feel free to share this invitation with other groups.

In addition, a combination of new business models and innovations in urban agriculture could enable community-based nonprofits to benefit from promoting local agriculture in their neighborhoods.  These proposals are detailed in the report “Engaging Community Groups to Promote Energy Efficiency, Solar Energy and Local Agriculture.”  A brief summary follows.  Please let me know whether your group wishes to sign onto this request, and if you have any questions or suggestions


Dan Miner, volunteer organizer
Beyond Oil NYC
718.786.5300 x 27­­

*  We’ll provide on request all the information needed for a nonprofit to start earning referral fees from solar installers for promoting solar energy to its contacts.


** For identification only.  This is a personal communication and does not reflect the official views or policy of Long Island City Partnership.  

How nonprofits can promote NYC sustainability, help their neighborhood, and earn some income

Community-based nonprofits in NYC can make their neighborhoods greener, help their constituents, and make some income at the same time.  The key is tapping into their networks of local relationships.  If nonprofits have the incentive to do so, they can leverage those relationships to promote programs which have enough value to entice constituents and to compensate the nonprofits for their marketing efforts. 

Promoting Con Edison’s Green Team energy efficiency program


Currently, only 15% of those taking the free survey go on to purchase the deeply discounted energy efficiency upgrades offered by Con Edison’s Green Team program.  Although the extensively advertised program offers free energy efficiency surveys and discounts of up to 70% on equipment upgrades for lighting, heating, ventilation and cooling, participation could be much higher. 

When LICP promoted the program to its constituents, participation increased sharply.  Of the 654 businesses contacted by the Con Ed contractors alone, 151 or 23% went on to get upgrades.  Of the 214 surveyed businesses referred by LICP staff, 87 or 41% got upgrades.  We have a simple proposal for Con Edison to motivate other nonprofits to promote the program:  offer to pay nonprofits 3% of the total cost of any Green Team upgrade project that results from their referral to Con Ed or its contractors.

Referral agreements with solar installers

To promote the City’s goal of increasing the amount of solar-generated electricity, nonprofits can earn a fixed percent of completed project costs through referral agreements with solar installers.  They can help their communities take advantage of the numerous government efforts to encourage solar installations:  incentives covering much of installation cost, declining equipment costs, and streamlined bureaucratic procedures.  The solar installers referred by the community groups can help building owners apply for government incentives and can advise them about solar systems and financing options.  LICP’s referrals have already resulted in two solar energy system installations.  LICP will share its marketing materials and referral agreement on request.


Promoting healthy food, urban agriculture and composting food waste


Transition to a more local food system is important for the City’s long-term sustainability.  The report details how combining innovative urban farming techniques and new business models already being used in NYC can enable nonprofit groups - especially those serving low-income communities - to earn income for themselves and their constituents from farming in backyards, vacant lots and rooftops in their community. 

Full report: “Engaging Community Groups to Promote Energy Efficiency, Solar Power and Local Agriculture,” Beyond Oil NYC, 2012,­
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