[Councilmember Herb Wesson] Green Retrofit Program Creates Energy and Jobs

By Los Angeles City Councilmember Herb Wesson

I was recently joined by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in officially kicking-off the city’s Green Retrofit and Workforce Program at Vineyard Recreation Center in the West Adams community, medications located in the 10th Council District.

I authored the Green Retrofit and Workforce Program, seek and received strong support from Mayor Villaraigosa.  This program is the first large scale municipal green retrofit program in the United States.

It was an honor to have the first building chosen to take part in this landmark program in my district.  The outpouring of support from community and environmental leaders from the beginning validates why I authored the ordinance that created this program.

The City of Los Angeles has been allocated $37 million from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, with the first $14 million to fund this program.

The program has identified the first 130 city-owned buildings, such as libraries, fire stations, and recreation centers that provide the maximum energy cost savings, and that are located in low-income communities.  This innovative program promotes investment in energy efficiency, water conservation, and green technologies, and is thereby creating a green workforce with a pathway for new jobs in the new green building sector.

Since December 2010, the first 40 workers are now working for the Department of General Services on buildings citywide and have generated energy cost savings for the city, while training for higher skilled green construction and maintenance jobs.

The city’s Green Retrofit Advisory Council is working closely with the Mayor’s Office to develop financing options that will enable the retrofitting of all city-owned facilities. The city has been authorized to make use of up to $39 million in Qualified Energy Conservation Bond funds to broaden the scope of the retrofit program.

Key to the success of this effort has been the strong advocacy of SCOPE–AGENDA organization which convened the LA Apollo Alliance and advocated for the creation of a way to include low income communities in the emerging green economy. The LA Apollo Alliance represents 25 organizations from community, labor and environmental sectors, and continues to be an important ally and strategic partner in this important effort.

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