ABCD Pioneers Energy Conservation in Low-income Housing; Efforts Reduce Carbon Footprint, Stimulate Economy, Save $175 Million-plus

Since 1981, ABCD, working with talented partners, has been at the forefront of energy conservation initiatives in low-income single and multi-family housing in Massachusetts, saving low-income residents and taxpayers more than $175 million.

John Wells, ABCD Vice President, Energy Services, has provided important leadership to multiple projects, working with partners from community action programs, utility companies and clean energy initiatives. In 2013, Wells received a national award for his contributions to the field.

A few highlights of ABCD’s work in weatherization and energy conservation over the years include:


1981: ABCD Project Anti-Freeze workshops were held in Boston neighborhoods, providing energy conservation information and distributing more than 10,000 weatherization kits to low-income residents.

In 1982, before being elected to the Massachusetts legislature, Kevin Honan worked for ABCD, where he provided Project Anti-Freeze weatherization workshops.

East Boston 3-deckers

1994: U.S. Secretary of Energy Hazel O’Leary spoke at a press conference in front of a four-family house in East Boston being weatherized by ABCD with funds from the Department of Energy. She released results of a national weatherization study that showed that weatherization saves on fuel costs, puts people to work on weatherization crews and saves the environment by decreasing oil emissions.


2008: ABCD played a key role working with Massachusetts utilities to ensure compliance with requirements of the state’s Green Communities Act for including low-income housing in MassSave energy initiatives.

Pine Street Inn Domestic Hot WWater System

2008: ABCD and Action, Inc. began the Low-Income Multifamily Energy Retrofit Program (LIMF) funded by the utilities, providing energy-saving measures and lighting upgrades to shelters and multifamily housing. In 2015, Pine Street Inn and New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans both received complete heating systems and domestic hot water. replacements with high efficiency systems that filled a critical need and enabled the shelters to continue services without interruption.

Alice Taylor Roof Under Construction 04_02_14

ABCD replaced the roof insulation at the Boston Housing Authority Alice Taylor Development in Roxbury. ABCD also retrofitted the development with high efficiency heating and domestic hot water systems and LED lighting.

2009-2012: ARRA! With primary funding of $5 million a year from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), ABCD worked with the Sustainable Energy Resource Center (SERC) to carry out hundreds of energy-saving projects in Massachusetts multi-family and public housing settings. Installations included solar domestic hot water systems, micro-combined heat and powers systems and super insulation-Aerogel applications. The economic impact rippled down through the community as private contractors were hired to do the work and residents saw fuel savings of 30 percent.

ABCD collaborated with the Low-income Energy Affordability Network (LEAN) and NSTAR to implement statewide energy efficiency improvements for thousands of families in multi-family homes including electrical upgrades, refrigerator replacements, shell insulation and air sealing.

Boot Camp: ABCD established the “Mattapan Boot Camp” in a neighborhood facility to train weatherization contractors statewide to meet the huge demand for energy conservation and renewable technology.

ABCD solar panels ~  2012
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2012: Solar panels installed by ABCD and partners atop a public housing development for elderly and disabled residents in Jamaica Plain reduced the hot water bill for the complex by 40 percent. This was one of 18 major solar hot water heating projects provided across Massachusetts by ABCD, Action, Inc. of Gloucester and a host of partners.

A wind turbine against a blue sky. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

2015: ABCD is working with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to further green energy technology, this year providing a “laboratory” demonstration project for the Air Source Heat Pump, a system which transfers heat from outside to inside a building. ABCD has also played a key role in CEC demonstration projects for wind energy and geothermal heating.

Managing these initiatives are John Wells, ABCD Vice President, Energy Services; Elliott Jacobson, Energy Director, Action, Inc.; James P. Collins IV, Manager, ABCD Energy Services; and Kathy Tobin, ABCD Energy Director.