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Scrapbook: Teaming Up With LIUNA to Weatherize Homes

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September 04, 2009

Teaming Up With LIUNA to Weatherize Homes

This post was written by Allison Forbes of the Sierra Club Labor and Workers Rights Program

While there is considerable concern about the speed of our green economic recovery (it just can't happen soon enough), public expectations for green job creation are high.

Key players are stepping up to help expand clean energy industries and maximize the benefits of federal recovery dollars: private businesses, non-profits, youth employment programs, community groups and labor unions. The "green" from the federal government may provide a big boost, the challenge is to jumpstart growing industries and secure long-term economic and environmental benefits.

DC green group
The weatherizing crew and the homeowners post in front of the house.

Wednesday, down the street from the Sierra Club office in Washington, DC, a labor union turned up to help one couple address their steep energy bills and stay warm this winter. The Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) announced that its job training programs, training expertise and infrastructure would be directed toward upgrading, or "weatherizing," energy-inefficient homes.

A crew of newly trained workers tested their skills by sealing leaks and insulating walls in the 100-year old home owned by Amy Vruno and Chuck Roberts in the Trinidad neighborhood north of Capitol Hill.

Dc green build2
LIUNA's Weatherization Team Instructor, David Mejia.

I met Brian Salmon, 19, of southwest DC, at work on the house. A graduate of the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and Earth Conservation Corps, Salmon was excited to find work with the union weatherizing homes.

"To me, it's another step up," said Salmon. "People are spending a lot of money on gas and energy bills. We seal up the cracks."

Dc green build
Weatherizer Dawne George.

Dawne George, 28, showed me the repair work her team was doing in the upstairs rooms of the old house. "I like to work with my hands and work with the community. I hope we can get more people to help us with the work."

With all the hands at work on this home, there was enough energy on this block to power a small wind turbine.

Sierra Club President Carl Pope was also on site to welcome the announcement of LIUNA's weatherization training program, emphasizing the need to greatly expand building energy efficiency work and recognizing the union for its leadership in rebuilding America for the 21st century.

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