Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments

Santa Ynez Chumash Community Energy Project

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Santa Ynez, California

Federal Funding: $500,000
Project Timeline: February 2011 – September 2015

Latest Update

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians continues to conduct the outreach, recruiting, and training components of the Chumash Community Energy Program (CCEP). Promotional activities continue through web, newspaper, and magazine articles. In addition, with a new focus on telling the stories of CCEP trainees of tribal descent, social media and word-of-mouth outreach have significantly increased community interest. CCEP continues to host solar and home assessment trainings with a new focus on developing a strong level of competency and experience for promising trainees. The training is paying off: solar contractors are paying for trainee labor, which is helping the program become financially self-sustaining. Three trainees have been hired as full-time interns, and one was offered a full-time, short-term position as a solar installer. Furthermore, the Program recently completed additional Home Performance Assessments. By working closely with homeowners on budget and needs, the Program is working to turn these assessments into tailored home upgrade projects. The Chumash Community continues to gather and analyze homeowner utility data to help measure project impact. Lastly, to help inspire similar programs, the Program also participated in the annual Region 9 Tribal EPA Conference to share successes and lessons learned. Upcoming activity includes continuing Home Performance Assessments, encouraging implementation of home upgrades and corresponding training opportunities, and continuing to assess commercial buildings.

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Project Summary

Job Training and Building Energy Performance Improvements in a Tribal Community

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has launched the CCEP in order to create jobs while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy consumption, and associated costs throughout the Tribal community and beyond. To achieve these benefits, the Tribe has developed a job training program that will subsidize building performance assessments, energy efficiency retrofits, and solar installations on residential, commercial, and government buildings. In addition, this project involves extensive outreach to educate community members about energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy opportunities and inform non-community members about the CCEP and its benefits.

The project has six major components that are administered by the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office (SYCEO):

  • community education and outreach,
  • job opportunities and training,
  • implementation of building energy performance measures,
  • data collection and analysis,
  • information sharing and community recognition, and
  • project administration and reporting.

The first component of the project seeks to educate Chumash community members about the opportunities and benefits of energy conservation, building performance assessments, energy efficiency retrofits, and renewable energy. SYCEO reaches community members through a variety of avenues, including workshops, meetings, mailings, web pages, emails, and the community magazine. For the second component of the project, the SYCEO provides information on building energy management training and employment opportunities for community members and arranges formal trainings and an apprenticeship program to give 30 to 60 trainees paid job experience with professional contractors and certification experts. A select number of trainees have received high-level training and have subsequently been hired by partner contractors.

With a trained workforce, the project incentivizes and implements building performance assessments, energy efficiency retrofits, and rooftop solar installations for tribal homes and commercial buildings. The program subsidizes the labor costs of apprentices and their trainers, and the building performance assessments are also offered free or at a minimal cost. The SYCEO collects and analyzes data through the project to measure progress. The fifth component of the project involves sharing the success with other communities and disseminating project information and guidance to other small and tribal communities locally, regionally, and nationally. Lastly, the project undergoes regular project evaluation, and project leaders highlight areas where improvements are required.

Overall, the project is creating a trained workforce, increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy installations in the community, and reducing GHG emissions by approximately 88 metric tons per year. By tracking results and sharing experiences with other tribes, the Chumash Community project will spread the benefits to other small and historically disadvantaged communities.

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Community Characteristics

Population                              4,300

Area                                       7.8 square miles

Government Type                    Tribal

Community Type                      Rural

Median Household Income        $98,135

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Program Results


Reported Results (as of September 2013)

Projected Cumulative Results

Annual GHG Reductions

0 mt CO2e

88 mt CO2e

Residential Retrofits



Commercial Retrofits



Job Training Provided

249 people

30 people

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Project Website

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