Alameda California landscape

Opening the Door to Sustainability

The East Bay Green Home Tour Begins May 14!

As Switch Is On ambassador Amy Kiser’s son Jude filmed homes for the East Bay Green Home Tour, he noticed a pattern: neighborhood “spiderwebs” of climate action.

For example, Jude’s drone footage showed that roofs with solar panels rarely appear in isolation. Instead, they cluster around certain blocks and neighborhoods. Amy and Jude chatted with a homeowner who revealed that electric vehicles (EVs) show up in similar clusters; in fact, he himself had inspired several of his neighbors to buy EVs.

“It’s visual proof of why I founded the East Bay Green Home Tour,” says Amy. “We saw with our own eyes how environmental home action spreads along local networks. When one household goes solar or buys an EV, their neighbors can rely on them as a trustworthy resource and are more willing to do the same.”

Amy has harnessed the power of neighbor-to-neighbor environmental learning by founding the East Bay Green Home Tour. It doesn’t just invite people to tour local, sustainable homes; it brings those homes right into their living room.

What’s the East Bay Green Home Tour?

This virtual green home tour showcases environmentally friendly homes in San Francisco’s East Bay community. Most of the homes are fully electrified, or well on their way, and sport many other climate-adaptive features. You can watch videos of 2021’s star homes (including fellow SIO ambassador Wei-Tai Kwok’s home) and register to watch the free 2022 tour on May 14-15.

The tour is hosted on Zoom, and the full program for 2022 is available here. It consists of:

  • Twelve ten-minute videos, each walking through a home in the East Bay. The home’s tenant shares a bit about themselves, explains the climate-friendly changes they’ve made to their home, and demonstrates the home’s new features.
  • A ten-minute live Q&A after each home walkthrough, in which the tenant answers questions from the audience.
  • Four presentations from experts on relevant topics. 2022’s presentations include:
    • How to get started with home electrification (presented by sponsor Switch Is On)
    • Green home strategies for renters
    • How to go beyond carbon-neutral by having your yard draw-down greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere
    • How to electrify your home without upsizing your 100-Amp panel

All videos will be available online to watch at your leisure. Amy is particularly excited about this year’s Sequester Carbon In Your Yard presentation, which introduces composting as a key strategy. “Composting isn’t just for gardeners,” she notes. “It’s something everyone can do, and it’s close to a magical substance in helping soil become a ‘carbon sink.’”

To decide which homes are featured, Amy considers the diverse makeup of the East Bay. “Each of these homes is very different so that the broadest possible audience can see themselves in one or more of these situations,” she says. “I wanted everyone watching to see households like them, facing similar challenges, and see they can make their home more climate-friendly.”

Amy also appreciates the personal nature of home tours. “As a ‘nester’ myself, I love meeting new people and seeing how uniquely they each create beautiful, cozy, climate-friendly places to live,” she says.

Bring It Home: Providing Local Resources

The Green Home Tour grew out of the work of the Berkeley Electrification Working Group, which Amy co-chairs. The working group of local residents was committed to raising the profile of home electrification and helping to connect East Bay residents with trusted local service providers.

“It can be a challenge to find the best products, processes, and contractors needed to electrify one’s home in a specific area,” says Amy. “But your neighbor can tell you what store they went to, who they used as installers, and which systems work in your particular microclimate. They bring it from a general ‘here’s why you should electrify’ to ‘here’s exactly where you go, who you call, what you need, and where you can find it in our neighborhood.’”

For this reason, the East Bay Green Home Tour spotlights local homeowners who can provide these resources and share what’s worked for them.

“That’s why becoming an ambassador for Switch Is On was an easy ‘yes,’ ” she adds. “We’re committed to building electrification as an important climate strategy, and their website (where you can search for contractors and electric incentives by zip code) is an invaluable one-stop-shop for helping people get started.”

A Growing Green Mission

With over 1,500 participants, 5000+ views on YouTube, and a slew of positive feedback, Amy is confident in saying that this format is an effective way to speed the transition to clean energy.

“Our post-tour surveys showed that people enjoyed learning about new ideas and ways to electrify, especially induction stoves and heat pumps,” she says. “Many were inspired to send the recorded tour to friends and neighbors.”

To her delight, some went further. “Residents of Marin reached out after watching it, and I’m helping them produce a similar local green home tour in Marin this fall,” says Amy. She has also heard from residents of Eugene, Oregon and Hawaii who have expressed interest in starting a green home tour where they live.

What Can I Do to Get Involved?

“If you’re interested in starting a green home tour for your community, send me an email,” says Amy. “We’re documenting processes, templates, materials, and resources so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for your own green home tour.”

Other ways to help include advocating for local environmentally friendly initiatives, choosing clean electric appliances, going solar, composting, and more. Amy particularly reminds us that we are all influencers, and educating our peers goes a long way.

“We listen to our peers most of all,” she says. “You don’t have to have a lot of followers on Instagram to own your power as an influencer. Your opinions have power among your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.”

Perhaps Jude’s footage for next year’s tour will show new neighborhood clusters of electrified homes. Amy hopes so. As she says, “Our response to the climate crisis is an opportunity for us to build a beautiful future that benefits everyone.”

Register for the East Bay Green Home Tour on May 14-15, 2022!