The Sustainability InstituteThe Sustainability Institute

The ECC Program

A Nationally Recognized and Award-Winning Program Affiliated with AmeriCorps.

The Energy Conservation Corps (“ECC”) is an innovative and award-winning program affiliated with AmeriCorps (The Corps Network) that provides individuals the opportunity to serve their communities while learning new skills and gaining new experience in the area of conservation.  Our program is part of Opportunity Youth Service Initiative (“OYSI”) and is designed to provide workforce training and conservation service experience specifically to young people experiencing barriers.

The program provides disadvantaged and at-risk young adults aged 17-24 with an opportunity to boost their skills and find employment success in the growing and high-demand fields of energy efficiency, building performance and environmental conservation. Our program targets at-risk young adults in our local communities who are facing significant challenges and are searching for a positive career pathway and opportunity to build leadership through service.

The ECC Program provides these young adults with both classroom and hands-on, on-the-job training in national protocols, best-practices and industry standards that lead to in-demand certifications.  The program also provides “soft-skills” training that teach partipants skills that will enable them to thrive both personally and professionally following their service.

The goal of the ECC Program is to help our young people overcome barriers, learn new skills and become leaders in their community, and  perform important environmental conservation projects that empower our communities and make them more resilient to climate change impacts.

Corps members are recruited directly from local communities to serve 3 month (450 hr), 6 month (900 hr) or 1 year (1700 hr) service terms, receive a successful combination of classroom training, on-the-job training, and apprenticeship, and give back to their communities through their service projects and activities.  They earn a living stipend while they serve and receive assistance in transitioning to postsecondary education or the workforce. Upon completion of their term of service, Corpsmembers receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.

A 2020 study by economists at ICF found that every $1 in federal taxes invested in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps returns $17 to society, program members and the federal governement.


Low-income Homes Upgraded


Average Annual Dollars Saved Per Home


Corps Graduates


Job Placement Percentage




The ECC creates a significant impact on local housing affordability by performing direct energy efficiency retrofits on low income homes suffering from inefficiencies and high and unaffordable energy costs. More than 50 homes each year are fully weatherized and upgraded for energy efficiency by the program, often saving families more than 30% on their monthly bills. As the contractor performing this work, the ECC takes an innovative approach which includes pre- and post- performance testing of the home (Blower door, duct blaster, and infrared tests), deployment of construction best practices, and quality assurance – resulting in quality upgrades and deep savings for the homeowner.  While in the home we replace or fix smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, perform combustion appliance zone (CAZ) testing, and evaluate ventilation – all important steps to ensuring the safety of the home’s occupants.  We also have a strong focus on teaching families about behavioral actions they can take to further conserve energy and reduce bills.


Produce certified industry leaders who are ready to meet the regional demand for professionals who are trained to perform specialized energy upgrades on both new and existing homes.


Significant cost savings, up to 30% , are created by performing energy efficiency retrofits on low income homes suffering from high and unaffordable monthly bills.


Corps members are recruited directly from local communities to serve 3 month, 6 month to 1 year terms; receive a successful combination of classroom training, on-the-job training, and apprenticeship; and give back to their communities through their service work.


The ECC crew performs pre- and post- performance tests of the home, develops a scope of work, deploys construction best practices, and performs quality assurance to improve the energy efficiency of the home, resulting in deep savings for the homeowner!


THOUSANDS of low-income families face high energy costs that they cannot afford due to the inefficiencies of their home.

Many homes in our Lowcountry communities suffer from insufficient insulation in their attics and crawlspaces, outdated mechanical systems and appliances, inefficient HVAC duct systems, and general air leakage that results from age and disrepair.  Some homeowners we serve have no insulation at all, and many have inoperatable hvac window units that do not sufficiently cool the home.  These conditions can create critical safety concerns for families, especially went temperatures rise in the summer season.

Low income families are often economically stifled by high, monthly energy bills and spend a disproportionate amount of their income on their monthly energy costs. The repair and “upgrading” of these homes has become a national cause and urgent priority for our local communities.

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Ellen Smalls, Homeowner

I knew I was cold but nobody else could feel it but me. Breezes were coming from the floors, the walls, the bathroom… everywhere in my house. My light bill was up there and I had to go get help from Human Services over and over…The amazing thing [was] that after I got this done, the first month my light bill went down to $134! It was like $300 a month [before]!”