PHA Boosts Environment & Economy With Maintenance WAVE
WAVE crews swarm a site after PHA completes an inspection of all units, prepares work orders and buys materials for that particular site.

Crew members receive their work orders and materials at the truck shown in this photo at Oxford Village.

Completed work orders are recorded immediately at a special, computerized mobile unit that travels from site to site.
Graduates of PHA's Pre-Apprenticeship Program are included on the WAVE teams, providing employment and experience for PHA residents. These two graduates are shown repairing a floor in a home at Oxford Village.
The Philadelphia Housing Authority is setting a precedent with its groundbreaking Maintenance WAVE program that benefits both the environment and the local economy.

WAVE is shorthand for "Weatherization and Value Enhancement." Upgrades made under the program reduce energy consumption while improving the value of PHA properties. The WAVE program employs craftsmen and women who might otherwise be out of work in the current economy.

Crews are installing energy efficient lighting, fixing plumbing problems to conserve water, and checking for possible electrical hazards. The Maintenance WAVE is another example of PHA's commitment to reducing energy costs and demonstrating its stewardship of the environment, while re-engineering properties and improving their value.

Since the Maintenance WAVE began this spring, over 8,800 preventive repairs and upgrades have been completed at over a dozen PHA sites.

"This is a unique approach to efficiently weatherize thousands of units. These repairs are intended to reduce costs by decreasing energy and water use. The program also has the added benefit of creating new jobs during this economic downturn," said PHA Executive Director Carl Greene.

The WAVE utilizes the skills of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and glaziers in four teams. Two teams - numbering around 35 people each - handle work at PHA's conventional sites, while two smaller teams of around 7 people each handle scattered site homes.

The teams work seven days a week, allowing work to take place in units on weekends. In a special agreement with the building trades, team members work shifts of 10 hours a day, four days a week.

Unlike other weatherization programs, these workers have been trained to do more than weatherization and can make more complicated repairs. Graduates of PHA's Pre-Apprenticeship Program are included on the teams, providing employment and experience for PHA residents.

The WAVE program is very efficient. Before work crews arrive at a site, units and common areas are inspected to determine what upgrades are needed. Service orders are then created and prepared prior to the arrival of WAVE crews. When work crews arrive at a site, the orders are ready and the right materials have been ordered. Under this system, more work is done in fewer days.

"The WAVE allows us to complete more orders in less time than ever before, increasing our efficiency and responsiveness to our residents. Because of our automated systems, we are also better able to track the work performed and plan for future needs," Greene said.

As upgrades are completed, data entry on each upgrade is entered in a mobile unit with computers at the site. So, PHA has a real time idea of the progress that crews are making. The agency is also able to learn what problems are most common and plan accordingly.

The current version of the Maintenance WAVE will come to a close at the end of August. PHA officials estimate that the agency will have invested around $2 million.

Next up, PHA hopes to leverage newly available funds for weatherization to expand its Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program and further support green job creation and retention.