Partnering to advance youth-led community sustainability and green jobs
With roughly 38 million U.S. households eligible for weatherization, 19 million abandoned properties, rising energy costs and environmental impacts that disproportionately threaten poor communities, it is time to unleash the power of every communities’ most untapped resource—its youth.
There are about 3.5 million 16- to 24-year olds living in poverty that are neither in school nor employed. Let’s work together to train and employ them to breathe life back into their communities through green building and weatherization, while recapturing their own education and career prospects.
YouthBuild is an organization that is doing just this. The non-profit provides education, counseling and job skills to unemployed young American adults, and YouthBuild stands in solidarity with USGBC, upholding the core value to ensure healthy, safe and efficient buildings for all.
In 264 YouthBuild programs across the country, disconnected and disadvantaged youth are retrofitting affordable housing and building new green homes while participating in on-the-job and vocational instruction towards industry-recognized green building credentials. The education program strengthens basic skills and leads to a GED or diploma, and YouthBuild youth graduate with green building skills, knowledge and certifications are better equipped to enter the construction industry.
USGBC and YouthBuild are partnering in communities across the country to leverage and uplift our youth, and you can get involved.
There are many opportunities for the USGBC community to join with YouthBuild to create systematic changes in the way affordable housing is built and ensure that our nation’s youth lead that movement.
- USGBC Illinois arranged for YouthBuild construction trainers to become G-Pro certified.
- In Philadelphia, a Delaware Valley Green Building Council volunteer taught a course on Photovoltaics to YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School students which included a Green Apple Day of Service project.
- YouthBuild students volunteered at Greenbuild.
- In 2009, during YouthBuild’s 30th Anniversary celebration, we started building a home on the National Mall that achieved LEED Silver once it was completed by CDCB YouthBuild in Brownsville, Texas.
- In 2013, the YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School cut the ribbon on the city’s first LEED Platinum affordable housing project in partnership with Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed.
- Also in 2013, Kansas City YouthBuild achieved LEED Platinum on a public housing project to reduce evictions, saving the Housing Authority money to be re-invested in greater energy-efficient and healthy housing.
- In June 2014, YouthBuild Schenectady cut the ribbon on a LEED Gold two-family home that was built for less than $120,000.
In most of the places mentioned above and in other locations, YouthBuild was the first in the area to build a LEED certified affordable home. These accomplishments are beacons of awareness educating hundreds of people that green and healthy housing can and should be available to everyone and that all affordable housing must have manageable energy costs.
Let’s join forces and hark Martin Luther King in what he called the “fierce urgency of now!” There is no time to waste.