Service crew

In MA, green jobs abound for home energy upgrades / Public News Service

When it comes to “green jobs,” installing solar panels and building wind turbines are often mentioned, and community action agencies in Massachusetts have said the field has other career paths, including teams that perform key work inside a person’s home.

Agencies work with low-income households to reduce their energy load.

Mary Knittle, energy manager for the Worcester Community Action Council, said it goes beyond helping them get assistance with monthly bills. She pointed out that it includes a person who specializes in weatherizing homes to ensure heating and cooling systems are working efficiently, who will coordinate contractors brought in for upgrades after an assessment.

“We’re going to approach their home and their home’s needs holistically,” Knittle explained. “It’s a great asset, it’s great comfort and saves time.”

She noted that work is ongoing as new technologies come on board to reduce the carbon footprint of homes. State agencies have pointed out that there is currently strong demand for these services, amid higher energy prices and fiscal pressures from inflation.

Evan Pagliuca, Green Jobs Academy program manager for the South Middlesex Opportunity Council, said the training covers several in-home weatherization courses and is aimed at people who want to get their foot in the door and possibly do some great career leaps.

“Our installer training is for people with little or no skills or experience in home weatherization,” Pagliuca noted. “And after that course, within six months you could come back and take our team leader course and work for, say, a bigger weatherization company or start your own business.”

The academy works with participants to cover training costs, as well as travel and accommodation costs.

Brendan Delaney, director of residential energy for Action Incorporated, which covers part of northeast Massachusetts, said people are reinventing their careers, working in the energy sector is a nice transition, especially for those already working in the construction trades.

“It’s a completely relatable industry,” Delaney pointed out. “The added bonus is that you can see how many people you’re helping. Just the appreciation from our customers for the work we do for them. It’s incredibly rewarding.”

Disclosure: The Massachusetts Association for Community Action contributes to our fund for reports on housing/homelessness, hunger/food/nutrition, poverty issues, and social justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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