Weatherization Gets Down to Business

Non-profits like Green For All are working with federal and state goverments to usher in new "weatherization worker" legislation.Editor's note: our home energy blogger Jim Gunshinan sends in his post from the 2009 National Weatherization Training Conference, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Tuesday, July 21

There are 3,200 people here for the conference in Indianapolis! This is more than twice as many as the last time. Heard from Gil Sperling, Program Manager for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, and others at opening plenary. Some buzz about Davis-Bacon prevailing wage legislation. Department of Labor created a new category "weatherization worker" and is polling organizations around the country to come up with prevailing wage numbers. Department of Labor staff is here to get feedback.

Five U.S. Territories are now part of the Weatherization network.

Van Jones speaking at lunch today.

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Will set up display for later today. Something like 94 exhibitors are here, including heavy hitters like Home Depot and Sears. Will try to convince Home Depot folks to carry Home Energy Magazine in stores.

(later)

Van Jones, White House green jobs czar, spoke to weatherization workers at the National Weatherization Training Conference, "You are the quiet heroes. Your job is to take the inhalers out of little girls' pockets; little boys pockets."

No, he is not encouraging shoplifting, but the kind of homes that do not aggravate kid's asthma. A green home is an energy efficient and healthy one. That's something the weatherization community has known since the DOE Weatherization Assistance Program began in 1976.

Wednesday, July 22

At the awards lunch today, Gil Sperling mentioned that the Dept. of Labor (DOL) is making good progress in discussions with local weatherization agencies to determine the prevailing wage for a new classification of worker, the weatherization worker. The Davis-Bacon legislation from a decade ago (?) requires that organizations receiving federal government project money must hire people at the prevailing wage for similar work in the area. The legislation is being applied to the funds coming through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, (also known as the Stimulus Bill) for weatherization efforts. DOL came up with a new classification of worker, weatherization worker, in order to help the states comply with the Davis-Bacon requirements.

If the prevailing wages of construction workers were the standard, in New York, beginning weatherization workers would have to make $50 per hour! Weatherization agencies all over the country want to pay their workers well, but those kind of wages for beginning workers would wreck the budgets of most of them. So the new classification and prevailing wages will help agencies to pay a living wage, increase pay as workers become more experienced, and allow the agencies to live within their budgets. DOL staff are here in Indianapolis, and there listening sessions have been packed!

Thursday, July 23

A friend asked me What is the headline for the conference? I think it should be Weatherization Gets Down to Business. I am reminded of the ramp-up to the war in Iraq, and the war profiteering that is probably still going on. I remembered the “lost” $8-billion in the first months of the war. And I wonder if that kind of corruption will enter in the “war for energy security and green jobs and against global warming.” It probably will, because humans are involved. But the level of accountability here is very very high, and the expectations are very very clear. And I get the sense that, this time, the adults are in charge.

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