Case Study: Clean Energy Works

The Challenge: Create Good Jobs and Combat Climate Change

By 2009, Oregon was suffering the effects of the Great Recession with job loss at nearly 12 percent. Family incomes dropped and poverty increased. Major action was needed to spur economic growth while creating new jobs and saving existing ones. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the U.S. Department of Energy funded the Clean Energy Works (CEW) model to create living wage jobs and access to job opportunities for women and people of color while simultaneously increasing energy efficiency, combating climate change and reducing energy costs for consumers.

Our Results

Grew the Oregon market for deep energy retrofits by eight times, from less than 200 per year to about 1,600 per year

Rapidly expanded statewide,with services available to 82 percent of Oregon’s population

Delivered strong ROI,generating over $100 million in economic activity and 500 new living-wage jobs

Served more than 20,000 families, providing deep retrofits to over 5,000 homes, delivering more than 30% energy savings per household


Our Strategy

Collaborate and Leverage Resources

The home is a powerful leverage point for initiating action to advance multiple public policy goals for local governments, delivering measurable community benefits for all citizens and ratepayers.

CEW launched as a City of Portland pilot program to advance deep home energy retrofits as a pathway for living wage job creation, local economic investment and dramatic energy savings for homeowners—an important investment in environmental stewardship, workforce equity and community resilience.

Make it Easy for Homeowners

The CEW trusted advisor team works directly with the homeowner in the home, trained to help customers navigate a full suite of home upgrade services: seismic retrofits, solar energy and radon mitigation services. This includes providing customers with access to high quality, certified contractors, a one-stop homeowner engagement platform, easy financing and solid utility incentives.

Create a Total Solution

The CEW program demonstrates how to simultaneously save energy, improve a home’s comfort and value, and reduce carbon emissions, all while creating high-quality jobs for Oregonians who need them the most. Scaling rapidly, CEW launched services statewide, serving thousands of homeowners including underserved populations with a contractor network to meet customer demand.


  • Centralized project management platform: Customized, one-stop access created for contractor firms to access customer project details and technical specifications.
  • Continuing education and training, including monthly ‘Techie Brekkies’ to keep trade allies abreast of latest business, technical and industry trends.
  • Aggregated marketing investments: Collaborative co-branded outreach opportunities to help generate more demand for small and mid-sized businesses.
  • Specialized contractors: Trained to deliver enhanced services for seismic retrofits, solar installations, radon testing and mitigation, and healthy homes.
  • One-stop shop model: Access to energy advisors, matching with local, certified contractors, coordination with lenders, and in-home quality reviews of all projects.
  • Financing loans: Enable customers to pay back the cost of energy upgrades directly on their utility bill.

  • Rebates and financing: Financing solutions with no down payments and below market rates, as well as utility rebates and instant rebates.

  • Building science: “Home performance” retrofit model grounded in whole-home building science.


U.S. Department of Energy, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Energy and Environmental Block Grant funding.

Key Partners



Energy Trust

Green For All



Native American Youth and Family Center

Oregon Tradeswomen


U.S. Department of Energy

Work Systems Inc