Duke Employee Residential Energy Efficiency Pilot Program

The Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative is conducting research and implementing a pilot program to determine how residential energy efficiency can provide social and economic benefits to the surrounding communities while also providing energy efficiency credits or carbon offsets to help Duke University become climate neutral by 2024.

DCOI-HEAL Employee Energy Efficiency Pilot


The DCOI Home Energy Affordability Loan Pilot Program (DCOI-HEAL) builds off of the Employee Energy Efficiency Pre-Pilot implemented by DCOI from 2012-2013.  The goal of this program is to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation by encouraging Duke University employees to increase the energy efficiency in their homes.  The program focuses on removing the barriers that currently prevent Duke employees from completing energy efficiency retrofits on their homes.  Through the use of a focus group and survey conducted by Nicholas School students in the Social Science Surveys class, DCOI identified the following barriers:

  • Lack of information on energy efficiency and/or retrofits
  • Lack of trust of contractors
  • Lack of up front funding
  • Lack of access to low interest loans

In 2012, DCOI received funding from The Duke Endowment to design, develop, and implement the DCOI-HEAL program.  Soon afterward, DCOI partnered with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) to explore how to customize the CCI-HEAL program for Duke University.  Working with CCI, DCOI developed many partnerships in the region who have helped finalize DCOI-HEAL program details and bring the pilot program to Duke University.  Partners include:

  • The Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI)
  • The Environmental Finance Center at UNC-Chapel Hill
  • The NC Cooperative Extension and NC State University
  • Duke University Federal Credit Union (DUFCU)
  • Advanced Energy
  • ResiSpeak
  • Duke Energy $mart$aver Program

Program Description

The DCOI-HEAL pilot program encourages participants to perform energy efficiency upgrades within their homes by helping participants become comfortable with the audit and retrofit processes and removing the barriers listed above.  DCOI provides information and guidance throughout the program through the following services paid for by Duke University:

  • A Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified energy audit of the participant's home;
  • Scheduling assistance for the audit;
  • A Personalized Energy Plan report (PEP) prepared by DCOI;
  • A list of vetted retrofit contractors;
  • Access to a low-interest loan rate from the Duke University Federal Credit Union;
  • A follow up Test-Out to ensure quality retrofit work was completed (if retrofit work is undertaken by the homeowner as part of this program).

The program does not include:

  • Scheduling assistance for the retrofit;
  • Retrofits for the home.

For more information, view our marketing flyer.  Also, read about results from the pilot.

Program Requirements

In order to participate in the DCOI-HEAL program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Duke University Employee for at least 1 year
  • Own a house in Durham County
  • Have lived in your house for at least 1 year

  • Plan to remain in your house for 3 or more years
  • Willing to remove any storage items from areas where work is to be done (e.g., attic)
  • Willing to share your energy data (energy bills)
  • Have not completed significant weatherization work on your home in the last ten years

How to Apply

To apply for the program, please complete the following documents and submit to DCOI via email to charles.adair@duke.edu.  If you are selected to participate, you will be sent additional information on the pilot program.

1.     Application (The application window is currently closed)

2.     Employee Participation Agreement / Waiver

------      The DCOI-HEAL Program is made possible by funding from The Duke Endowment  ------


Employee Energy Efficiency Pre-Pilot


Water HeaterThe Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative implemented a pre-pilot energy efficiency program from 2012-2013, with support from The Duke Endowment and Piedmont Natural Gas.  The focus of the pre-pilot was to test the ability to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions through energy efficiency improvements to residential homes near Duke University.

The pre-pilot was split into two rounds.  For the initial round, DCOI hired student interns to help complete the weatherization work under the instruction of a weatherization contractor.  For the second round, students did not participate in weatherization activities due to time constraints.  Instead the weatherization contractor completed all work on the house. The upgrades installed in the homes for both rounds included air sealing and duct sealing to reduce leaks of heated or conditioned air to the attic or crawlspace of the home.  DCOI then calculated the greenhouse gas emission reductions (carbon offsets) associated with documented decreases in energy usage.

For a full report on the DCOI Energy Efficiency Pre-Pilot click here.

Project Development Research

The DCOI partnered with the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to help identify opportunities and challenges related to particular energy efficiency-related carbon offset projects, which presently can cost upwards of $100 per ton of carbon offset achieved. The following report summarizes and compares seven types of energy efficiency projects that the University could consider, proposes different financing mechanisms to fund each project type, and suggests ways to reduce the costs of each project type, primarily through innovative financing techniques not normally applied. The analysis focuses in depth on an employee-based residential energy efficiency program, and the findings helped DCOI develop both the Employee Energy Efficiency pre-pilot and the DCOI-HEAL pilot programs. 

For the full report, click here.

--- The Employee Energy Efficiency Pre-Pilot was made possible by funding
from The Duke Endowment and Piedmont Natural Gas ---