PITTSBURGH-Carnegie Mellon University's Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research is helping Heritage Community Initiatives in Braddock, Pa., to retrain local workers to create a pool of green collar employees and boost both local economic growth and energy efficiency.
A handful of local and regional business and academic leaders along with a U.S. Labor Department Energy Training Partnership grant, awarded to Heritage Community Initiatives, are putting their resources together in hopes of making western Pennsylvania a green-friendly metro area.
"The MOVE-IT Job Training Program is designed to provide skills to workers in order to help them obtain green jobs among industries looking to reduce energy consumption and environmental damage through more efficient use of the planet's natural resources," said Deborah Lange, executive director of the Steinbrenner Institute. "The program has spawned a wonderful collaborative effort that will send these workers into a variety of industry sectors spanning green construction, deconstruction, demolition, recycling and home energy retrofits."
Twenty-two Mon Valley program trainees will soon join the ranks of more than 800,000 green collar workers nationwide. The current 10-week program includes classroom training as well as certification training. The capstone of the program is a two-week field exercise involving deconstruction activities at the former UPMC Braddock Hospital. The trainees will be on site through Aug. 15.
"We believe that an educated and fully employed citizenry is a key ingredient to a healthy community," said Michele Atkins, interim president and CEO of Heritage Community Initiatives, which provides programs in education, transportation and job training. "We are grateful to the federal government for giving us a grant to train people in green jobs. As part of the grant, our trainees are participating in the deconstruction of the former hospital located in Braddock, Pa. We have partnered with Construction Junction and they are providing our trainees with skills that will help them become assets in the fields of deconstruction as well as construction."
Mike Gable, executive director of Construction Junction in Point Breeze, said demand for salvaged building materials continues to increase as a result of its lower price and its reduced carbon footprint compared to buying new.
"This project is unique because we rarely get to salvage materials from a large commercial building," said Gable, who anticipates great demand for the commercial ceiling tiles in some of the hospital rooms.
"UPMC has committed more than $8 million to secure necessary state monies for the transformation and redevelopment of this site. We are pleased that this particular project will serve as a unique and environmentally friendly job-training program in addition to making room for the proposed multi-use facility that will better fit the needs of the Braddock community," said Eric Cartwright, vice president of UPMC Corporate Construction and Real Estate.