Initiative Spawns Green Job Certifications

November 23, 2009
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In an effort to create a national retrofit market, Vice President Joe Biden recently unveiled the “Recovery Through Retrofit” report created by the Middle Class Task Force and the Council on Environmental Equality (CEQ). During the late October meeting, Biden discussed the barriers and strategies to expanding green job opportunities and boosting energy savings by making homes more energy efficient. The report claims there are approximately 130 million homes in America that combined generate more than 20 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Outlining the barriers, Biden pinpointed the lack of access to information, financing, and skilled workers as the three major hindrances to a more successful national retrofit initiative. Problems posed by the lack of straightforward, reliable information and the high upfront cost of retrofits to homeowners are not new concerns in the retrofit market. Biden’s report, however, stated, “There are currently not enough skilled workers and green entrepreneurs to expand weatherization and efficiency retrofit programs on a national scale.”

To solve the latter issue, the plan is to establish national workforce certification and training standards that will qualify the energy efficiency work done by trained retrofit workers.

“Consistent, high-level national standards will spur the utilization of qualified training providers that offer career-track programs for people of all skill levels, promote and expand green jobs opportunities, and facilitate the mobilization of a national home retrofit workforce,” stated the report. “Federal departments and agencies will work in collaboration to assess existing standards and training programs and develop consistent models, guides, and best practices for training and certification.”

According to the report, the federal government is implementing the following five concepts to mobilize the national energy retrofit workforce:

1. Advance a nationally recognized worker certification standard for comprehensive training that provides evidence that a worker is well qualified to properly complete efficiency and healthy home retrofits.

2. Promote a nationally recognized training accreditation standard to enable students to indentify trainers with a demonstrated capacity to provide quality instruction.

3. Develop and deploy model training programs for workers, including pre-apprenticeship and other programs that serve as onramps for lower skilled workers, provide clear pathways to career-track jobs, and assist training providers in ramping up training capacity efficiently and effectively.

4. Leverage existing workplace training, labor management partnerships, and other public-private partnerships and the local presence of federal agencies in communities to link workforce training to job opportunities.

5. Provide business development support and business skills training to improve the rate of success for small efficiency retrofit business skills training to engage both small businesses and larger contractors in entering the retrofit market to build an industry at scale. This support should also include a focus on making sure small businesses and minority- and/or women-owned businesses have a seat at the table.

To implement these steps, along with plans to address lack of access to information and financing, the CEQ is putting together an interagency Energy Retrofit Working Group chaired by the Department of Energy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, and the Environmental Protection Agency. “The working group will operate as the single point of contact for the successful implementation of this effort,” stated the report. “Within 30 days, the group will submit an implementation plan to the vice president and will report to him regularly on the progress towards implementing each of the recommendations indentified in the report.”

A status report as to the progress of this initiative and its multiple strategies is due out late November.

For more information, visit www.whitehouse.gov and search “recovery through retrofit.”

Publication date: 11/23/2009

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