Energy efficient retrofits

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

Population: 868,546 [metropolitan area]

Climate: Humid subtropical

Duration: 2015-2017

Sector: Buildings

Funding sources: Public

City Networks:

Savings: Energy consumption reduced by 31% per household, equal to 6,055 MWh annually.

Solutions: Retrofit of old residential buildings with energy efficient solutions.

Multiple benefits: Energy bills reduced , jobs created and increased citizens’ knowledge on energy efficiency.

Knoxville Extreme Energy Makeover (KEEM) is a multi-partner program that is providing energy efficiency retrofits to Knoxville’s oldest buildings. It is a partnership between: Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee, City of Knoxville, Knoxville Utilities Board, Tennessee Valley Authority and Alliance to Save Energy [source].

Objective: Knoxville’s charities spend significant amounts of money helping low-income families pay their bills. KEEM aims to address this problem at the source by improving the efficiency of aging buildings and reducing energy bill.

Solutions: Improvements of the insulation, heating and cooling systems and other technologies at no cost (entirely funded by the city) in more than 1200 homes were made. Common upgrades include: installation of weather stripping, upgrades of heating units, air sealing, and insulation of walls, ducts, pipes and attics [source].  In order to determine the savings, audits before and after the improvements were performed. 150 free education workshops for the residents were held on how to improve their energy-saving habits.

Funding: A total budget of USD 15 mln [source]. The project was funded by the Tennessee Valley Authority – government owned electricity utility corporation.

Innovation: Efficiency upgrades at large scale at no cost for low-income families (fully funded by the city). Large scale project – more than 1200 homes upgraded.

Success factors: Many partnerships were key for the success of the project. Besides the main team – the City of Knoxville, Knoxville Utilities Board, and Alliance to Save Energy, many other local partners (20+) made this project a success (Smarters Cities Partnership), by coordinating local resources and seeking for new funding.

Significant outcomes:

  • Energy use reduced by 31% per household;
  • Energy consumption reduced by 6,055 MWh annually;
  • Household energy bills reduced by 500$ annually;
  • Indoor thermal comfort enhanced;
  • More than 1700 residents educated;
  • Around 120 jobs created [source].

Synergies with local policies:

Political alignment:


  • A part of the Knoxville Smarter Cities Partnership – a coalition of over 20 community organizations seeking to improve the quality, comfort and affordability of inner city homes through energy efficiency;
  • Local actors – small construction business involved;

The Administration of the City of Knoxville has a vision to replicate the project’s model in other communities. “We believe KEEM is a model that other communities can replicate to empower their residents to take control of their utility bills,” – Gill, sustainability director for the City of Knoxville.

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Sector: Buildings

Country / Region: Northern America, United States

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In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: C40 Cities