NABTU and ACEEE Collaborate to Create Training Opportunities Via Energy Efficiency Program Investments

North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) unveils a collaborative effort that describes the potential to create career training opportunities via investments in energy efficiency programs.

Formal energy efficiency policies throughout our nation are estimated to require the skills of hundreds of thousands of skilled craft professionals. Leveraging these investments to create career training opportunities via a formal apprenticeship training is an ideal scenario.

“As states make the necessary plans for a clean energy future, they should consider the social and economic benefits of their decisions. Energy efficiency programs have the potential to provide jobs and career training opportunities for a significant number of Americans,” commented Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

As we progress towards a more energy-efficient economy, the manufacturing, industrial, and power sectors are considering investments that will lower their operating costs by conserving energy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed the Clean Energy Incentive Program that is designed to credit states for early Clean Power Plan compliance action, with the hopes that such a move will spur energy efficiency measures despite the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the climate change rule.

As we have seen with other sectors of the economy, this has the potential to create career training opportunities in the skilled trades, provided that industry, government and labor work in tripartite harmony to make it happen.

“North America’s Building Trades Unions and its signatory contractors invest over $1 billion annually in the world’s most successful skilled craft apprenticeship infrastructure,” said Sean McGarvey president of NABTU. “We have real-world experience in working with businesses, industry, government and community organizations that see the value in leveraging public and private investment so that they create opportunities for career training in the skilled trades, particularly for historically neglected communities, such as women, people of color, military veterans, and urban youth. Energy efficiency investments have that same potential, and we are proud to join with ACEEE to issue a call to make that a reality.”

Click here to read the joint fact sheet.

North American Cities Are Implementing Urban Heat Reduction Strategies, Including Cool Roofing

A survey of North American cities by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA) finds that confronting the challenges of extreme weather, adapting to a changing climate, and improving the health and resiliency of urban populations are driving cities to develop and implement strategies to reduce excess urban heat.

Nearly two-thirds of the cities surveyed cited local extreme weather events as a key reason for initiating urban heat island mitigation strategies. “U.S. cities are waking up to the growing threat of urban heat and employing a number of innovative approaches suited to their location and priorities,” said ACEEE researcher and report author Virginia Hewitt. “Our report will help local planners adapt these practices to even more communities across the country.”

ACEEE and GCCA surveyed 26 cities in the U.S. and Canada representing all of the major climate zones, geographies, and city sizes. Despite the diversity of the respondents, several common themes emerged. Local governments are “leading by example” by requiring use of “cool” technologies, such as reflective roofs on municipal buildings, lining city streets with shade trees, and raising public awareness. Additionally, more than half of the cities have some kind of requirement in place for reflective and vegetated roofing for private sector buildings. Almost every city had policies to increase tree canopy and manage storm water.

“Our report finds that by addressing their urban heat islands, cities are more effectively delivering core public health and safety services, making them attractive places to live, work, and play,” said Kurt Shickman, executive director of the Global Cool Cities Alliance.

The report includes case studies on how several cities have responded to urban heat, demonstrating the variety of strategies employed. In response to a study that found that Houston’s roofs and pavements can reach 160 F, the city now requires most flat roofs in the city to be reflective. After an extreme heat wave in 2008, Cincinnati lost much of its urban canopy, and instituted an aggressive forestry plan. Washington D.C., has instituted a wide suite of programs such as Green Alleys, which helps residents manage excess stormwater by replacing pavement with grass and trees, and requiring reflective roofs on all new buildings.

The survey also found that most city governments are not acting alone to reduce excess heat. States, neighboring jurisdictions, utilities, developers, contractors, and local building owners are collaborating to create incentives for communities to reduce urban heat and mainstream these practices.

“We recognized a number of years ago that keeping New York cooler was an important part of protecting public health and becoming more resilient. We started with cool-roof volunteer programs that raised awareness and understanding, while coating 5 million square feet of rooftops. These voluntary efforts led to the cool roof ordinance requiring investments in reflective roofs on certain buildings,” said Wendy Dessy of NYC Service.

Cities surveyed in the report include: Albuquerque, N.M.; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Chula Vista, Calif.; Cincinnati; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Louisville, Ky.; New Orleans; New York; Omaha, Neb.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; St. Louis, Mo.; Toronto; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and Washington, D.C.

View Cool Policies for Cool Cities: Best Practices for Mitigating Urban Heat Islands in North American Cities.