Climate Resilient Communities:
Equity and Action for a Healthy Future

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In the Bay Area, as throughout the world, low-income communities are disproportionately affected by the negative consequences of climate change. Acterra builds alliances between community residents, local government programs, and community-based organizations in low-income areas in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties to create resilience against the coming impacts of climate change. We specialize in outreach in East Palo Alto and Belle Haven (Menlo Park), where we help organize community events for environmental awareness and action.

Watch our East Palo Alto Earth Day 2018 video

Climate Change Community Team (CCCT) in East Palo Alto

Thanks to a recent Community Resilience partnership with San Mateo County, Acterra has helped to create a Climate Change Community Team (CCCT) in East Palo Alto. The team is composed of city residents, city officials, youth, and leaders from business and faith-based communities. In addition to educating themselves and the community about local climate change impacts, members of the CCCT will also be trained in conducting community-led assessments of vulnerability to sea-level rise. Our goal is to ensure that community members have an important seat at the table while building capacity in the community to adapt to climate change and sea-level rise.

Green@Home to Grid Ready


Acterra’s Green@Home program was a natural to bring to low-income communities in the Bay Area back in 2016, as the tightening housing market forced many families to share housing, thus driving energy costs up to as much as 20% of household income. We have taken this program one step further by working with partners such as GRID Alternatives, Habitat for Humanity, El Consilio, and Rebuilding Together to offer both renters and homeowners basic home repair, energy efficiency devices and education, as well as free rooftop solar to eligible homeowners in qualifying neighborhoods. This can help cut homeowner energy bills up to 90 percent.


Clean Energy Access for All: A Design Sprint on Funding Models

Clean energy technologies, like home solar rooftop systems, carry substantial ongoing economic and environmental benefits, especially in low-income communities where utilities can represent as much as 20% of household budgets. However, these technologies require substantial upfront investments, putting them out of reach for many. On October 18, 2018, Acterra organized a "design sprint" (an interactive, time-intensive prototyping session).

Watch the webinar here.

GoEV in Low-Income Communities


With generous purchase rebate programs, low or non-existent maintenance costs, inexpensive charging (compared to the cost of gasoline), and lack of air-polluting emissions, electric vehicles (EVs) are an especially attractive choice for those in low-income communities. However, not enough people are aware of the benefits and many mistakenly believe that the cost of an EV is out of reach. Acterra provides EV workshops, webinars, and “ride-and-drive” events in low-income communities to ensure that everyone knows how cost-effective it can be to drive an EV.


Past Climate-Resiliency Outreach Initiatives

  • In low-income areas in FY2019 he offered a series of “Energy Clinics” — educational outreach about the benefits of participating in Silicon Valley Clean Energy’s programs that provide clean energy at lower rates than PG&E. Free drop-in Energy Clinics were held in multiple venues such as senior centers and public libraries in Santa Clara County.

  • Acterra recently partnered with Pono Home and Elemental Excelerator to bring more home energy efficiency services to the Bay Area. Pono Home has greened more than 6,000 homes in their home base of Hawaii, which is leading the country with its ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2045. Through this initiative Pono Home and Acterra helped create more green jobs in the South Bay with a special pilot program.

  • In 2018, with our partners at Build It Green and El Concilio, we helped dozens of residents in East Palo Alto access the Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP), which provides vital home improvements that make heating and cooling homes easier and cheaper.

  • We conducted educational outreach and capacity building, along with Resilient By Design, on the permanent effects of sea-level rise in the South Bay. It's easy to think of sea level rise flooding as an all-or-nothing scenario – sea level rises, people have to get out, right? Not necessarily! The short film from James Corner Field Operations shows some exciting possibilities.

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  • Acterra provides outreach about the benefits of Ecology Action's WaterLink program to qualified residents of East Palo Alto. The program provides free direct installation of cost-effective, indoor hot water conservation measures in single- and multi-family residential units, commercial kitchens, skilled nursing facilities, and hotels in select regions that the State of California recognizes as disadvantaged.

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Would you like help reaching low-income communities with your energy-saving or climate-friendly initiative? Contact Violet Saena, Resilient Communities Program Manager, at