Philadelphia creates green jobs to weatherize row houses

Mon Jun 1, 2009 9:25am EDT
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By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The City of Brotherly Love is tackling rising unemployment and improving the energy efficiency of homes by training people to weatherize its estimated 400,000 low-income row houses.

Edward Abraham, 28, is one of Philadelphia's first class of 20 "weatherization" trainees who are learning how to install insulation, caulk windows, seal basements and assess fuel usage in city houses.

During a four-week program that started in mid-April, the trainees learned skills to earn a living meeting the increased demand for energy efficiency. They are trained in 19th- and early 20th-century row houses and at a training center in the city.

The program, run by the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA), a private nonprofit, is part of the city's new "Greenworks Philadelphia" sustainability plan that aims to boost areas such as recycling, renewable energy and emissions control while creating "green-collar" jobs in a tough economy.

Over the next five years, the city aims to weatherize 100,000 row homes.

For Abraham, a former self-employed carpenter now working for his GED high school diploma, the program has rescued him from unemployment and homelessness.

After his work ran out in September 2008, Abraham was evicted from his apartment and lived in a homeless shelter for two months. He is optimistic that he will be able to make a career with his new skills.

"There's going to be a lot of leakage in these row houses," he said. "There's always going to be a lot of work."   Continued...