In 2008, the Green Communities Act was passed and it set in place new energy efficiency standards that greatly expanded current programs, creating an opening for quality green jobs creation in Massachusetts. In 2009, the state’s utility companies incorporated suggestions to create good quality green jobs, provide pathways out of poverty for local residents and jumpstart global warming reductions in communities around the state. These suggestions came from the Green Justice Coalition (GJC) a group of climate activists, low-income communities and labor groups; Clean Water Action is one of these groups.
The GJC’s plans look like this:
• Hire trusted community organizations to canvass their neighborhoods, sign up hundreds of people for home weatherization, and “bundle” those homes into one contract.
• With contracts that large, responsible contractors can pay good wages with benefits, hire local residents and provide quality training and paths to careers.
• And find upfront financing so residents can afford “deep” energy efficiency retrofits.
Using this approach will create six thousand good green jobs over the next three years. A report, “An Industry at the Crossroads: Energy Efficiency in Massachusetts,” was released in March by the GJC that highlights these points. It will also put low-income communities and communities of color at the forefront of the fast-growing green economy. Up until now, low-income communities have endured the most toxic waste sites, the most trash transfer stations and the highest lead and asthma rates. The Green Justice solution can start solving the environmental, economic and equity crises we face by helping the most marginalized communities that have the draftiest, oldest and least energy-efficient homes have access to weatherization programs.