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Green Collar Jobs Sprout this Summer in NM

August 3, 2009

SANTA FE, N.M. - Green collar jobs are sprouting up this summer in the Land of Enchantment. A crew of young adults spent the past few months getting some low- and moderate-income households in Santa Fe ready for winter.

Dana Richards, associate director of the Earthworks Institute, directs 4C, the Climate Change Conservation Corps, which has put a group of New Mexicans ages 18 to 25 to work. They are doing simple, free weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades for the households most likely to struggle with paying their energy bills, he says.

"They, for the most part, are folks who were recently unemployed, who haven't had all the best breaks in life and all the economic advantages."

The youth corps is part of the Energy Works program, which has been helped by federal stimulus funds through the city of Santa Fe. Richards says they're hoping to use the pilot program as a model to expand the work to other parts of the state.

The crews offer simple services that typically will save a household around $150 dollars a year in reduced energy costs, he explains.

"They install things like door weatherstripping, low-flow shower heads, water heater insulating blankets, compact fluorescent lights, caulking and power strips that will help reduce phantom loads."

He says they also offer education for households on ways to create additional energy savings around the home.

The Energy Works pilot project was done in partnership with the Santa-Fe based Housing Trust and with help from Sierra Club volunteers who canvassed households previously assisted by the Housing Trust.

Daniel Werwath, resource development manager for the Housing Trust, Santa Fe, says it's a win-win-win that starts with fighting climate change and helping homeownership remain affordable in the long term.

"We are simultaneously dealing with the issues of marginalized youth populations and helping them access career tracks."

The Housing Trust, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club and City of Santa Fe all provide funding for the program.

More information is available at http://earthworksinstitute.org/4c/.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM