Equity in Clean Energy Transformation 


When equity is approached intentionally, municipalities and their partners can create programs that prioritize making clean energy technologies accessible and beneficial to low- and moderate-income households, indigenous communities, new Canadians and communities of colour.

Supported by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) Innovation Fund, this guidebook is the result of the “Equity in Energy Transformation and Innovation” project. The project’s intent was to develop actionable resources for local governments and partners to use to advance social equity in clean energy program design and implementation in their communities. The project also produced an inventory of best practice programs and four in-depth case studies.

Seven core USDN cities from the U.S. and Canada were involved throughout the project, as well as an Equity Advisory Committee, composed of eight representatives whose work or lived experiences could ground the research.  Canadian contributors to this project included the City of Toronto as core participant to this project, CUSP’s managing director as project advisor, and all of CUSP’s member municipalities as observing cities to this project.

CUSP thanks Cadmus for its commitment to this subject matter and the process of collaborative learning; the City of Burlington, Vermont for its vision and leadership with this project; and, the Urban Sustainability Directors’ Network for funding both the development of this guidebook and CUSP’s equity in energy workshop which shared the results of this project with its member municipalities and partners.

Equity in Energy Transformation and Innovation Project Overview

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A Guidebook on Equitable Clean Energy Program Design for Local Governments and Partners

This guidebook introduces a process and principles that local governments and their partners can use to design equitable clean energy programs in their communities.

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case study: Cooperative Energy Futures

Cooperative Energy Futures is an energy services cooperative (co-op) in Minnesota that develops community solar gardens (CSGs). Their model prioritizes
increasing access to solar for low-income residents and renters by offering pay-as-you-go subscriptions and utilizing backup subscribers to eliminate the need for
credit scores during customer enrollment.


case study: craft3

Craft3 is a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) that makes loans to increase the resilience of families, businesses, and communities. It
offers a range of products that can compose up to 100 percent financing for energy efficiency projects.

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cully car share

This pilot electric vehicle (EV) car-sharing program was started by an EV advocacy nonprofit and an affordable housing nonprofit in Portland’s Cully Neighborhood.  This peer-to-peer connection program provides alternative transportation options to an underserved neighborhood that is not adequately connected to public transportation or other car-sharing options.



The City of Somerville, Massachusett's HeatSmart/CoolSmart program offered an affordable pathway for income eligible homeowners to receive zero-interest,
deferred-payment loans for renewable heating and cooling installations of air-sourced heat pumps.


equity in energy program inventory

This worksheet provides an inventory list, with short description and key characteristics, of clean energy programs for heat pumps, solar, electric vehicles, solar+storage and energy efficiency.