Job search for Tahoe area residents goes green
TRUCKEE Unemployed locals interested in green jobs gathered at the Cedar House on Wednesday evening to listen to experts speak about green job opportunities locally and throughout the region. Experts in the fields of solar energy, wind energy, conservation and career counseling spoke at the green jobs workshop, which was presented by the Sierra Green Building Association and the Truckee Tahoe Unified School District.You tend to hear a lot of hype these days about the growing green industry, but where does the tire hit the road? asked John Arsenault, education director for the Sierra Green Building Association. We wanted to bridge the gap between the hype and the experts in the field that know what kind of jobs are really out there. One of those experts, Greg Jones, executive vice president of Synergy andamp; Wind Manufacturer in Verdi, Nev., sees the current green business industry in a kind of Catch 22.There are some good things about the stimulus package that will get more people to buy green products, but then there are a lot of people that are losing jobs and are unable to afford those things that make their lives more eco-friendly, Jones said. Its a very difficult time and a very intriguing time in the green business industry.Still, Jones and other experts believe the green industry will rise to the top as we begin emerging from the recession. The green movement has been around for a while now, but its about to take a big jump, said Scott Terrell, Truckee Donner Public Utility District conservation specialist.With this jump, Terrell expects energy auditing identifying energy saving opportunities in residential and commercial buildings will employ a large number people in the green industry within the next five years. A lot of money is going in to energy efficiency education, and programs that train individuals in energy conservation and auditing are popping up overnight, he said. Lending credence to the expected demand for energy auditing professionals in the future, effective Jan. 1, 2011, Nevada will require every home sold to have an energy audit performed at the time of sale.And looking at the numbers, its hard to ignore the payoffs of identifying ways to conserve. According to Terrell, $20 worth of compact florescent light bulbs could offset enough energy use to save $10,000.Conservation is the cheapest and cleanest way to offset energy costs, he added. But besides energy auditing, there are a number of different specialized jobs discussed at the workshop. Russ Cartwright, sustainable energy director for Interstate Plumbing andamp; AC out of Sparks, Nev., ran through a list of trade jobs available in the solar and geothermal energy producing industries, including electricians, plumbers, engineers and heavy equipment operators.The larger companies that can see what the future holds are investing in the future of green energy, he said. Should Synergy andamp; Winds investment in wind turbine manufacturing take off, Jones said their current staff of about 10 employees could grow to more than 500 within a few years. Were going to have opportunities coming up shortly in avenues ranging from sales to production, Jones said, and were anticipating it happening before the end of the summer.
As the green industry emerges locally, teachers laid off from the school district stand to play an important role, according to the workshop presenters. Teachers would be perfect for a lot of this kind of work, said Anna Klovstad, project manager for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and head of the energy conservation committee that helped bring the green jobs workshop to life. We saw that a lot of what needs to be happening in the green industry grant writing, training, sales, customer service is a good match for teachers, whether theyre currently out of work or need seasonal work during their summer breaks.Terrell agrees.There is a whole new era with a whole new language emerging and we need teachers involved, he said. Doors are opening and teachers can get the education and training and come out of it in any direction they want. Arsenault, who teaches English at Sierra College, added that educators are held to a high level of professional standards, so if they find themselves temporarily out of work, they could transfer their expertise to other areas such as customer service and sales instead of going in other directions.
Though the green jobs workshop was born out of an energy conservation committee in the school district, and was originally intended to help recently laid off teachers make sense of the jobs available in the various green industries, the Cedar House events room was full of people with a variety of job experience. Ive been interested in jobs in the green and solar fields for a while now, said Robert Perry, an electrician from Reno. This field is going to take off and the potential for jobs is great, not to mention youre doing something good for the environment.Mike Pyle, a physical education and English development teacher for the Truckee Elementary School, attended the workshop partly because he read about it in an e-mail from Klovstad and partly because he thought it was worthwhile to check out. You hear so much about the green industry but its hard to put it all together to see what the opportunities really look like, he said. What was nice about today was that the presenters spelled out exactly what jobs are out there … there seems to be a lot of definite potential in a lot of different avenues.
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