Just as every community is unique, so is every wood stove changeout program. Although changeouts can take a variety of forms depending on the nature of the coverage area, there are certain qualities that are shared by most successful campaigns. As you begin planning your changeout, the following checklist will be helpful for developing an effective program.
✓ Broad Coalition of Interested Stakeholders
✓ Adequate Funding
✓ Effective Financial Incentives
✓ Public Outreach and Education
✓ Targeted Regulatory Requirements
✓ Administrative Resources
✓ Identification of Non-EPA-Certified Stoves
✓ Proper Disposal and Recycling of Old Stoves
Broad Coalition of Interested Stakeholders
A successful changeout is a team effort that has broad-based community support. There are a variety of individuals and groups that share a stake in the benefits of a changeout and can help you make the case for doing one in your community. Listed below are examples of the people and stakeholder groups you can approach to gain support for your program, along with what typically would motivate them to get involved.
- Elected officials - Whether it is a city council member, county commissioner, mayor, state legislator or member of Congress, elected officials and their staffs are obligated to do what is best for the citizens who voted them into office, and supporting clean air programs such as wood stove changeouts is good constituent service.
- Government health and environmental agencies - One of the core missions of municipal, county, state and regional federal health and environmental agencies is to protect public health by reducing harmful emissions in the air that citizens breathe. State and local environmental officials are under a great deal of pressure to bring their areas into compliance with federal air quality standards. They should welcome cost-effective, innovative solutions that reduce harmful emissions.
- Hearth product manufacturers, dealers, affiliates, installers and recyclers - Participation by local dealers/installers is critical since they sell and install the new equipment, as well as communicate directly with consumers interested in changeouts. The regional HPBA affiliates are also helpful in identifying key stakeholders.
- Public utilities - Changeouts also present a business opportunity for utilities, since there are stoves that burn gas or electricity. Improvements in air quality also help utilities that must meet attainment standards.
- Banks and credit unions - The low interest loans that are among the potential incentives offered to participants provide financial institutions the opportunity to establish relationships with new customers.
- Civic, professional and religious groups - Local civic, professional and religious groups are boosters of community improvements, and they can serve as gateways for reaching large constituencies through their memberships. The Chamber of Commerce, hospital auxiliaries, Junior League, Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary and VFW are just a few examples of candidate community groups.
- Nonprofits and advocacy groups - Every community has nonprofits and advocacy groups with missions that fall in line with the goals of a changeout program, whether it is reducing pollution, preventing asthma, saving energy or helping low-income residents. Examples include the American Lung Association, environmental groups and the United Way.
If you approach these groups with a message that makes it clear how THEY will benefit, you can gain their support and enlist them as champions. Like you, they want what is best for the community.
Clearly, identifying funding must be a top priority from the start to cover program administration and costs associated with stove purchases, installations and disposal. The Success Stories section of this tool kit offers several examples of various funding sources found by other communities.
There are a variety of potential funding sources available at the local, state and federal level, but finding them can involve some detective work. Local and state air quality offices and health departments are often good places to start, because their staffs are often familiar with grant programs designed to improve public health, reduce pollution and help the community meet air quality attainment standards. Securing grant money for your program is likely to require submitting an application, which may involve a fair amount of research, writing and due diligence to establish the legitimacy of your proposed program.
On the federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided the bulk of grants to fund changeouts thus far. Your EPA regional office is one starting point to find out if they have previously funded any similar programs in your area. The EPA web site on wood stove changeouts also offers updates on potential funding opportunities. You may also find EPA funding through Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP), when a violator of an EPA regulation voluntarily agrees to provide funds for environmentally beneficial projects such as changeouts as part of their settlement. SEPs can be administered by EPA or at the state level. Contact your local, state and federal environmental government officials to see if SEP funds might be available.
Also on the federal level, some changeouts have received funds through congressional earmarks, where the local member of the Senate or House of Representatives is able to have funding for the project written into legislation. Although arranging an earmark is a tall order, it has been done, and it never hurts to ask if you have contact with the staff in the district or state office.
Effective Financial Incentives
The bulk of your funding will likely go toward providing financial incentives that play a critical role in ensuring maximum participation by consumers. A two-pronged approach that offers a more generous set of incentives for low-income citizens has become a model approach for motivating people to get involved in changeout programs.
Depending on the level of funding, a changeout program may offer a specific number of clean-burning hearth products at no cost or substantially reduced cost to low-income households in the coverage area. As part of the public awareness campaign, it is important to clearly communicate to low-income populations the criteria they must meet in order to become eligible. It is equally important to identify local social service providers that can provide guidance on and confirm applicants’ eligibility to qualify for low-income changeout benefits.
The other financial incentive of a wood stove changeout targets the rest of a community’s population by providing them with various inducements to invest in cleaner-burning hearth products that replace their non EPA-certified wood stoves. This second group of consumers is offered some or all of the following incentives to change out their old wood stoves:
- Low-interest loans from participating banks and credit unions
- Revolving loan funds
- Discounts and rebates from manufacturers and retailers
- Tax credits
Targeted Regulatory Requirements
Financial incentives should be accompanied by supporting regulatory mandates designed to maximize the number of households and businesses that participate in the changeout. These regulatory options can include:
- Property Requirements – Some cities and towns have considered ordinances requiring that pre-1990 stoves be updated or removed before residential property can be legally sold.
- No-Burn Days for Old Stoves – When air quality is particularly bad, institute no-burn days that exempt gas, electric, pellet and EPA-certified wood hearth products.
- Bans on the Installation and/or Use of Conventional Wood Stoves.
Centralized program coordination is an integral part of an effective changeout, and the plan for your campaign should include sufficient staffing, office space and other resources to ensure a smooth operation. Ideally, there should be one individual in the agency administering the program who serves as the day-to-day coordinator, and that person should have sufficient administrative and management support. Below are some of the administrative functions that are part of a wood stove changeout:
- Recruit and orient manufacturers, retailers, regional HPBA affiliates, installers and recyclers. HPBA can either help, or even take the lead.
- Coordinate with elected officials, community leaders and other campaign partners involved in the program.
- Respond to inquiries from consumers and staff the hotline.
- Oversee and conduct various elements of public awareness campaign
- Arrange and run meetings of campaign partners.
- Setup and manage the paperwork for tracking/recording changeouts.
- Conduct any necessary data collection and reporting for program financers and regulators.
The key to effectively managing your program is to have designated staff and an administrative structure in place BEFORE the changeout is underway to avoid missteps and frustrations.
Proper Disposal and Recycling of Old Stoves
Disposal and recycling are essential parts of a model changeout program. When a citizen agrees to do a changeout, she or he must turn in the old stove, which is then disabled so that it cannot be used again. In order to receive credit for product discounts from manufacturers, retailers are required to submit a tracking form that certifies they have completed the disposal and taken the uncertified stove to a recycler. Removing the door is the most common method for disabling an uncertified stove.
A mechanism for stove disposal and recycling should be included in your plan prior to implementation. This involves identifying at least one recycler that is equipped to process the stoves, as well as an area for retailers to temporarily store disabled stoves until they are picked up by the recycler. HPBA can also help in the disposal and recycling of old stoves.