The Green Construction industry is one of the fastest growing construction fields and The Black Star Project recognizes the opportunity this field presents for our people. In a social climate where young Black men are systematically excluded from viable employment opportunities, The Black Star Project seeks to support the Black and Latino communities in preparing for and securing jobs in the Green Construction Industry.
President Obama and his administration have focused on energy policy, with the Clean Energy and Recovery Act. This act creates jobs and advances America’s energy efficiency through programs and strategies including a multi-billion dollar effort to weatherize low-income homes throughout the country. Additionally, millions of dollars have been designated to train individuals for green jobs.
The Black Star Project is currently running two grant funded programs in partnership with the Urban Weatherization Initiative (UWI). UWI programs are funded through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Weatherization Specialist Training: Preparing Workers for Green Jobs
Over the past three years, the Black Star Project has prepared over 50 individuals for jobs in the Green Construction Industry through a hands-on training program that provides participants with a national certification. In 2013, The Black Star Project led a Residential Building Envelope Whole House Air Leakage Control Installer training. This training prepares individuals for certification with the Building Performance Institute (BPI) which is the industry standard in weatherization and green construction work. Of the 32 individuals that participated in the training, 29 earned their certification with the Building Performance Institute.
Individuals that The Black Star Project has trained as Weatherization Specialists are dedicated and diverse. Trainees are predominately Black and Latino and come from various backgrounds. Trainees can be young men and women ready begin a career in Green Construction or individuals with prior construction experience looking to build new skills. We also work with those often overlooked by traditional job training programs including individuals with criminal records. The Black Star Project not only provides trainees with technical skills and hands-on experience, but also provides support and focuses on competencies such as professionalism and resume and interviewing skills. The Black Star Project assists certified program completers with job placement in the Green Construction field.
Residential Weatherization Program: Weatherizing Homes in Englewood
The Black Star Project is committed to supporting, improving, and investing in under-resourced communities throughout Chicago. Chicago has one of the oldest housing stocks in the nation and many historical homes lack proper insulation, making it challenging for residents to properly heat and cool their homes.
The Residential Weatherization Program provides income-eligible residents with free energy efficiency updates to make homes more comfortable and utility bills more affordable. Through installing measures such as added insulation, air sealing, and weatherstripping, air infiltration is prevented and residents can see a significant reduction in their utility bills. Through cleaning, tuning, or replacing appliances and installing compact florescent light bulbs, homes are more energy efficient.
The Black Star Project is currently working with skilled minority-owned contractors to weatherize 100 homes in the Englewood community of Chicago. Half of the weatherization workers on this project were certified through The Black Star Project’s Weatherization Specialist training program.
*To qualify for the Residential Weatherization Program, residents need to reside in the Englewood community, need to live in an owner occupied single family, or multi family home (2-6 units), and the household must be at or below the 60% area income.