In June, Groundswell was awarded a $300,000 grant by the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) to design up to 30 resiliency hubs throughout Baltimore’s most climate vulnerable communities. These funds will make it possible for Groundswell to find out where it is feasible to install Resiliency Hubs in the Baltimore community — in terms of both architectural opportunities and potential host site locations.
We’ve spent years building deep relationships and infrastructure that economically empowers the communities we serve in DC and Georgia, and we’re excited to embark on a new adventure in supporting residents in Baltimore so they can not just survive, but thrive — even in the face of adversity.
Resiliency Hubs are a powerful way for communities to take more control of their energy futures and their lives. They’re centralized, trusted community locations where community members can access reliable power for essential items — like cell-phone charging or medication — and continue to receive information in the event of a natural disaster or other community disruption. Resiliency Hubs can also provide emergency supplies like snow blowers, 2-way radios, first-aid kits, and refrigeration for medicine. When equipped with battery storage and solar installations, these hubs can continue to provide electricity needed to power certain critical services even when the local utility grid is down.
Right now, Baltimore is vulnerable to a range of natural hazards including coastal storms, sea level rise, flooding, extreme heat, and high winds. These types of extreme events have already increased in frequency and magnitude over recent years, and will continue to be exacerbated by climate change moving forward. The effects of these hazard events are already disproportionately impacting low-income communities of color. When heat waves, weather events and blackouts occur, it places communities of color and low-wealth communities at risk. No electricity means no way to refrigerate food and medicine, no internet connection for teleworkers and students, and a heightened sense of stress and uncertainty. We’re using that $300,000 to begin changing this dynamic for some Baltimore neighborhoods.
We believe that by working in close contact with community leaders and leaning on the support of our partners in developing these projects like A.F. Mensah, SunCatch Energy and the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, our work can lead to more cohesive and resilient neighborhoods for Baltimore residents.
We’re honored to be selected by MEA to build out resiliency in Baltimore, and even though COVID-19 is creating new challenges in spreading word about this new opportunity, we’ve already begun outreach to identify up to 30 resiliency hub candidate sites by summer 2021.