Like many cities, Madison, WI has innovative programs with multiple co-benefits for the city and community members. A perfect example is Madison’s Efficiency Navigator program that emphasizes resiliency, equity, and sustainability in affordable rental housing.
“This program is a great example of how we can achieve multiple goals at once – lowering bills, improving homes, helping the climate, and supporting jobs,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “I hope landlords and renters will take a close look at how this opportunity could benefit them and take the first step to learn more.”
With funding support from Healthy Babies Bright Futures and the Mayors Innovation Project, the team in Madison took the Efficiency Navigator one giant step forward by incorporating both lead and mold abatement programs.
Lead-based paint and mold exposures are known health risks for children and are especially concerning in low-income housing not regularly renovated. Landlords were already engaged in the Efficiency Navigator program, and integrating lead and mold abatement allows for a more holistic approach to both resident and building health.
How did this program start?
City and community organization staff—from Elevate and Sustain Dane—embarked on an iterative journey including stakeholder interviews and collecting and analyzing lead and mold data. This dedicated process resulted in an interactive map and high-level flow chart to visualize process impacts—and facilitate program replication.
The team produced a story map that helps users to visualize and prioritize the risk of lead and mold exposures across Madison. The interactive map combines six layers of data that represent lead risk, mold risk, or demographic information.
As the development team interviewed stakeholders to understand lead and mold abatement and tenant concerns, the team decided to visually depict connections between programs in a high-level flow chart. The chart allowed staff to clearly see the necessary added steps and staff training to integrate lead and mold processes with the existing efficiency program.
Plus: its clear visualization provides a roadmap for other cities to engage in similar conversations leading to energy efficiency programs that go beyond their traditional scope to include health benefits too.
What’s next for Madison?
Integrating health as a central component of the Efficiency Navigator process makes this program a more holistic means to optimize resident comfort and resiliency.
Successful integration requires assessor certifications, optimally including a Healthy Home Evaluator certificate and lead risk assessor training. Implementation funding is critical. Currently, the Efficiency Navigator is looking to partner with state entities such as the Lead-Safe Homes Program for implementation funding.
Though some state funding is available, more flexible funding is needed – especially in situations where remediation is not mandated by law. Next year the program will move forward with support from ARPA funding by working with municipalities who received this federal support. Funding through the recently passed IRA is also a promising avenue for programs seeking health and safety funding.
More questions about Madison’s work? Contact Abby Francisco, Senior Project Manager at Elevate, at firstname.lastname@example.org.