GreenFinanceSF and Job Training Program Create New Local Clean Energy Economy

GreenFinanceSF and Job Training Program Create New Local Clean Energy Economy GreenFinanceSF and Job Training Program Create New Local Clean Energy Economy

April 24, 2015 - Spring 2015 both heralded the launch of San Francisco's GreenFinanceSF program and offered a new, exciting workforce development model for the burgeoning energy efficiency sector. Launched officially in mid-April, GreenFinanceSF provides an affordable financing option to San Francisco homeowners to pay for the installation of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements. By utilizing this program, San Francisco-based energy efficiency contractors such as Kevel Home Performance, Building Efficiency, and Luminalt also anticipate new opportunities to grow. Consequently, the stakeholders supporting GreenFinanceSF range from the public to the private sector, including Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Mark Farrell, the SF Department of Environment, CityBuild, energy efficiency contractors, labor and community-based organizations, and financing program administrators.

Even more significantly, a diverse local workforce is being readied now to anticipate this economic growth. On Thursday, April 30, San Francisco Conservation Corps will celebrate the graduation of three Pre-Apprentice Training cohorts that participated in hands-on training and earned industry-recognized credentials to prepare for careers in energy efficiency and construction. To understand their training in depth, Brightline and a wide set of stakeholders thus convened at this unique energy efficiency-focused training program in Bayview-Hunters Point. Coordinated by the San Francisco Conservation Corps (SFCC) and Laborers Community Training Foundation (LCTF), this program fulfills three goals: outreach and hiring from disadvantaged communities, tailoring energy efficiency training to contractor and industry specifications, and creating a local workforce with strong career pathways and advancement.

First, the SFCC/LCTF Pre-Apprenticeship training program does direct outreach to recruit from communities that have been historically marginalized in San Francisco. SFCC partners with LCTF to provide a total of 240 hours Pre-Apprenticeship Trainings, including an 80-hour residential EE industry-specific training. The first EE specialty training brought 12 trainees from all neighborhoods of the City, and through collaboration with CityBuild, the site was located on the Evans campus of City College in San Francisco. GreenFinanceSF also promotes opportunities for the City's community workforce by connecting contractors with the CityBuild program, which intensively trains local disadvantaged residents for good-paying construction jobs and career pathways. This program also remains incredibly effective in communication and retention, as over 90% of each cohort of trainees express satisfaction with the training and classes.

Second, this program and CityBuild's rigorous 18-week pre-apprenticeship training program are modular and can adapt to the evolving needs of building codes and the energy efficiency industry. The SFCC/LCTF program's ability to create specific training modules will prepare trainees for the rigors of working in confined spaces and understanding the nuances of residential energy efficiency work. Differing from the usual commercial energy efficiency sector, residential energy efficiency installations often involve smaller contractors sensitive to the needs of homeowners.

Finally, similar programs offer a pathway for its trainees to enter into apprenticeship programs and good-paying jobs in the clean energy sector. One major benefit of this model is that it improves career-building, state-certified apprenticeship programs linked to SFCC, CityBuild and Prop. 39 efforts funded by the state Workforce Investment Board. Through this mechanism, GreenFinanceSF can subsequently implement and support energy efficiency-focused "earn and learn" job training and job placement targeting disadvantaged job seekers, and fill critical workforce skill gaps by creating opportunities for CA job seekers to earn industry-valued credentials and enter into apprenticeship or direct employment in the energy efficiency or construction sector.

Currently, GreenFinanceSF will utilize the First Source Hiring Program to encourage energy efficiency contractors to hire from CityBuild's graduating classes. CityBuild is a program of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), and serves as the operational arm of First Source in working with construction contractors to hire local residents for apprentice and/or entry-level positions. As OEWD collects the data on the workforce, the workforce development program will be then keyed to future local hiring percentages. For San Francisco homeowners, GreenFinanceSF overcomes challenges that have hindered the adoption of energy-efficiency and water-efficiency projects in buildings by eliminating up-front costs, providing low-cost, long-term financing, and making it easy to transfer repayment obligations to a new homeowner upon sale. Through successful placements from CityBuild and the SFCC/LCTF program, this vibrant community-labor partnership subsequently offers real results that elevate this program above many traditional training programs in the construction industry.

"Mayor Lee and I wanted to ensure that GreenFinanceSF had a strong workforce component attached to the program because we knew the opportunities that will be created for workers and the broader community through this program, and we were excited to give workers the opportunities to gain a new skill set to be successful in the new and emerging clean energy economy," said Supervisor Mark Farrell.

"SFCC Pre-Apprenticeship job training program fills critical workforce skill gaps by creating opportunities for disadvantaged San Francisco youth to earn industry-recognized credentials and enter into apprenticeship or direct employment in the energy efficiency or construction sector," said SFCC Executive Director Debra Gore-Mann. "We support GreenFinanceSF's advocacy with energy efficiency contractors to put trainees to work."

Brian Besold, General Manager of Kevel Home Performance, a local business dedicated to energy efficiency also had a strong vision for GreenFinanceSF: "When we started Kevel Home Performance, we envisioned serving the community in which we live, to continue to grow our business and our families here in San Francisco. We'd love to be able to hire within our city. Through our partnership with GreenFinanceSF, we look forward to supporting San Francisco's youth to join the local workforce and actively participate in San Francisco's economy."

"Combining GreenFinanceSF and the SFCC job training program creates long-term careers in the local clean energy economy," said Brightline Policy Counsel Eddie Ahn. "SFCC provides hands-on construction training for local residents to make homes more energy efficient, and a strong job placement strategy through GreenFinanceSF will link clean energy with jobs for traditionally underemployed communities."

The ceremony for celebrating the pre-apprentice graduates of SF Conservation Corps will begin at UCSF Mount Zion on Thursday, April 30th, at 5:30 p.m.


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