USGBC Inland Empire Chapter helping underserved communities
The USGBC Inland Empire Chapter (USGBC-IE) has been reaching out beyond architects, engineers and builders to low-income communities through its Sustainable and Healthy Community Initiative. This initiative aims to provide green building education and hands-on project experience to underserved communities, and to increase engagement with local programs related to green homes, green schools, green workplaces, and healthy communities.
Since 2012, USGBC-IE has been working with the City of Rancho Cucamonga and their Community Champions neighborhood group in a low-income area to respond to a glaring need for environmental education and leadership. The chapter found that residents were not aware of the many programs available to them through utility companies, municipalities and other organizations and agencies. These homeowner programs provide low cost or free services, appliances, and other resources to save on energy and improve the health of residents.
The chapter responded to this community’s need for environmental education, as well as a need for structured green job training projects, by participating in the Clean Energy Workforce Training Program, thus allowing them to support the unemployed and underemployed. The result? Fifteen Building Performance Institute certified community college trainees gained over 1,000 hours of on-the-job workforce development training while conducting assessments on twelve low-income households.
To make the Sustainable and Healthy Community Initiative possible, USGBC-IE secured over $50,000 in grants, including funding from USGBC National, Southern California Gas Company, Southern California Edison, Sierra Club, and the Home Depot Foundation. In-kind resources included energy assessment equipment loaned from Chaffey College, and marketing and publicity, including a professional video, from the partner municipality, City of Rancho Cucamonga. The chapter also launched a Green Home and Community Presentation Series in collaboration with the Sierra Club My Generation Campaign.
USGBC-IE is now focusing on providing additional environmental educational opportunities for underserved communities through partnerships with other cities in their region. Leadership Groups (based on the promotoras model for community health education) are being trained to implement environmental educational activities that replicate the success in Rancho Cucamonga. The chapter, in coordination with city officials, will recruit leaders in each community who will help their neighbors navigate city programs, and create activities, events, and committees for the improvement of their communities, promoting environmental education and behavior change.
The chapter is proud to transform their work into something much greater for the USGBC-IE member base, the community at large, and the environment.