A workshop helps Eastport, Maine find ways to reduce heating costs

A view of downtown Eastport, ME. Photo by The Indestructible Enforcer via Flickr.

Eastport, Maine is a charming rural community vying for its survival.

An island off Maine’s northern coast, Eastport is actively working to reduce the town’s increasingly substantial winter heating costs. To help in this effort, the community applied for and received a 2012 free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America and Otak, made possible by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.

Eastport depends almost entirely on fossil fuels for winter heating, and pays more for them as compared to the rest of the country. And while all of Maine has severe winters and high heating costs, Eastport is a rural community that serves a primarily low-income and older population, making these obstacles even more challenging. The cost of heating has implications for Eastport residents’ disposable income, the region’s economy, and even home foreclosure trends. The city recognized that it needed to find a more sustainable, efficient, and affordable way to heat buildings.

So in order to help Eastport create long-term strategies to bring down heating costs, Smart Growth America and Otak provided a two day “Cool Planning” workshop on September 24 and 25, 2012 that focused on helping the community find strategies for reducing its fossil fuel dependency.

The City is serious about combatting the high costs associated with heating homes and buildings. Eastport’s City Council supports trying out new ideas, and new public-private partnerships are working to help make future development more sustainable. One of the newest partnerships has been with Thermal Efficiency: Eastport, a project focused on wintertime heating issues. Project staff worked with Smart Growth America during the workshop and is in the process of creating a report outlining recommendations for local development that will be submitted to the City.

If the strategies for lower heating costs prove to be effective in Eastport, they are likely to be implemented elsewhere in Maine, as well as in other small, disadvantaged communities across the country. Learn more about how Eastport is accomplishing its goals, and the workshop hosted by Smart Growth America and Otak, by reading the documents below.

Workshop Materials:

About Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance

Each year, Smart Growth America makes a limited number of technical assistance workshops available to interested communities for zero cost. This competitive award gives communities a chance to understand the technical aspects of smart growth development through a one- or two-day workshop. Applications for Smart Growth America’s 2012 free technical assistance workshops are now closed, but you can learn about the next opportunity by joining our mailing list.

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