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Home Energy Evaluation Kits

Jacksonville Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Kathy Lussier, Assistant Director for Community Relations and Marketing, klussier@coj.net

Problem Statement

With a challenging economy and rising energy costs, customers were looking for ways to save money; our local utility was looking for ways to help people save energy; and the library was looking for ways to educate the public about sustainability and “green” practices.

Innovation

When the Green Team Project, in partnership with Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA), approached us with the idea of a Home Energy Evaluation Kit that could be checked out at the library, we immediately saw the perfect opportunity to meet our customers’ needs in an innovative way while positioning us in the community as a resource for learning how to save money “and” the environment.

The project began with a pilot at four locations in November 2010. Each location received four Home Energy Evaluation “kits”—backpacks that contain tools to test the energy efficiency of a home, an instruction manual written by JEA and a resource book. The kits themselves are “green,” made from reclaimed billboard vinyl by a local company. The kits and contents are valued at $275 and are funded by JEA. Backpacks may be checked out for 21 days with no holds and no renewals. Customers must return the backpack to the branch from which they checked it out.

JEA mailed an insert in 340,000 utility bills in January with information on workshops at our pilot locations. The library issued a press release, conducted several media interviews. We utilized social media, in-library signage and fliers, a web page and a suggested reading list linked to our catalog. JEA experts conducted hands-on classes at the four pilot branches in February.

Progress

We were pleasantly surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response with backpacks in continually in circulation. Based on the results of the pilot, the program was expanded March 1, 2011 to all 21 locations; inventory was increased to six backpacks per location. News articles ran in four print publications (plus their online versions) and on TV. A mention in American Libraries Direct resulted in several calls for help from other libraries in setting up a similar program. More than 100 people attended the workshops, stating the kits and training were excellent and thanking the library for offering this resource. In addition, staff has been very engaged and excited about the project.