Weatherizing Waltham

Weatherizing Waltham

What is weatherization, and why is it important?
Most homes across the country, including those in our very own town of Waltham, are not energy-efficient. Many have cracks, leaks, and gaps in the walls, roof or foundation, insufficient insulation, improper ventilation and other problems that allow heat to escape.  Weatherization is an inexpensive, low-tech way to weatherproof a home and improve its energy-efficiency by sealing cracks, insulating pipes, caulking windows, and much more.  An air-tight house uses less energy and electricity, saving the homeowner money on bills as well as reducing greenhouse gases and pollutants such as CO2, SOx, NOx, and particulate matter emissions.

How are we “Weatherizing Waltham?”
Through community barnraisings! A barnraising is day-long event where community members come together to weatherize the home of a neighbor through this weatherization process. Individuals are broken into teams led by experienced members and personnel to focus on water and electrical efficiency, caulking and sealing, minor insulation and basement or attic improvements. A “blower door” test is then done to find out the total amount of carbon and water that was reduced.

Who are we working with?
●        WATCHcdc (link to: watchcdc.org/index.php): a community development corporation that works for affordable housing for all who will work directly with students in planning the Barnraisings.

●        Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) : a Cambridge-based group that specializes in reducing carbon emissions through energy efficiency that will assist with technical expertise, guidance and training.

How does it work?
Brandeis students in theHousing for Good practicum will carry out and lead one or two barnraisings per semester. Members of the practicum will establish a network with students and landlords to choose homes to weatherize that are primarily rented by students. Then, in coordination with WATCH staff, student organizers will plan a community barnraising including both student and WATCH volunteers. Practicum students will work with HEET in auditing the home and obtaining the proper supplies. The day of the event will be overseen by HEET and Practicum students including breaking volunteers into teams and introducing the project.

What is a practicum?
A practicum is an optional credited add-on that students have the opportunity to register for once they enroll in a corresponding class. Weatherizing Waltham is a part of the Housing for Good: Safe, Environmental Healthy and Just Practicum, a 2-credit experiential learning practicum that provides students with real world, hands-on experience while fostering student-community engagement through involvement in the planning and completion of barnraisings. The Housing for Good practicum also offers students the opportunity to learn housing law and be trained to serve as advocates at the Brandeis/WATCH Housing Advocacy Clinic.

What are the goals of this project?
●        Get Brandeis students involved and excited about community outreach and energy efficiency

●        Build better relationships with community and WATCH members

●        Help students lower their energy bills while reducing their carbon footprint and water usage

How can I get involved?
To be a part of the Weatherizing Waltham project, sign up for the Housing for Good: Safe, Environmentally Healthy and Just practicum attached to ENVS 2A in the fall and FYS 43B in the spring. Classes subject to change, for questions concerning which classes house the Housing for Good practicum or related information contact Laura Goldin at goldin@brandeis.edu

Not in the practicum? Just sign up to volunteer HERE

Project Participants:
Tiffany Belz, Dora Chi, Alisa Roznerita, Dorian Williams