My name is Parker Higgs, and I began my service with the Energy Corps in March of 2013. I am the new Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Outreach Coordinator for the City of Fayetteville, working within the Community Services Division. The main focus of my position is to assist the Housing Rehabilitation and Redevelopment Programs for the city. Through the Federally funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, the Community Services Division has been working on housing rehabilitation and emergency repair for low-to-moderate income families throughout the city.
The previous Energy Corps member in my position was able to purchase 1,500 energy efficiency and weatherization kits before leaving. These kits include EE light bulbs, caulk, weather stripping, low-flow faucets and more energy saving items. It is now my job to distribute these kits, completely free of charge, to the community’s low-to-moderate income families. The kits will not only serve as an energy saver, but an educational tool to advance each beneficiary’s awareness and involvement in sustainability!
To date, the department and I have provided over 200 kits to members of the Fayetteville community. To help increase our distribution, I’ve began to schedule short, educational events to local groups and then give away a kit to each attendee. Last week, I held my first presentation to a senior citizen center. This past Sunday, I set up an informational table at Trinity Methodist Church for their weekly, free community supper. The response is always terrific! Each person has been ecstatic to receive their new energy saving tools and typically very interested to learn more about energy saving opportunities and ideas.
This summer, I plan to organize a volunteer event using University students and other Fayetteville citizens interested in energy efficiency. This event will have teams of volunteers traveling door-to-door, handing out kits and an increased energy education.
My position within the City has allowed me to work on many other projects as well. The Community Services’ rehabilitation program has improved the conditions in over 100 homes since 2007. Obtaining utility usage information, I can determine energy usage per household before a rehabilitation project compared to the energy usage after a project. Hopefully, once this data is collected and analyzed, the Community Services Division will gain more support and publicity to continue these projects with more funding.
Using my background in engineering, I have partnered with the city’s Sustainability Division to begin managing lighting retrofits to many of the city’s buildings. Thanks to the local electric utility company’s incentive programs, the city is able to do this at almost no cost! For example, a lighting retrofit to a fire station quoted at $2,600 required only $500 after incentives. With the reduction in energy usage from this project, the $500 will be paid off in 6 months. I also hope to execute similar projects with local community buildings such as Trinity Methodist Church, the Senior Citizen’s center and more.
Fortunately, I am blessed with a strong group of EC members and employees here in Fayetteville. The town, at large, is accepting and involved in sustainability. All of this support makes implementing new initiatives incredibly comfortable and easy. I am very excited to continue my service and hope that I can impact the community as strongly and positively as it has already impacted me!
Parker Higgs graduated from the University of Arkansas in the fall of 2009 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. He minored in Math and German. He then went on to work as a project engineer for three years at Pinnacle Foods in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Parker will be working with the community services division of the City of Fayetteville, focusing on energy conservation education and implementing weatherization techniques.