At-risk and low-income young adults, as well as college students and local builders, will have access to training at a “lab house” in Schenectady thanks to a state grant announced Wednesday.
Northeast Parent & Child Society is buying a home on North Brandywine Avenue that will provide hands-on training and testing in energy efficiency skills and technology. The purchase was made possible by a $143,000 Green Jobs-Green New York grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
The Schenectady project is one of five the state is funding.
Northeast communication specialist Eugene White said the group is closing on the property this week and plans on it being open June 1. In its first three years of operation, the house is expected to train 1,425 people, including members of Habitat for Humanity and Northeast’s YouthBuild initiative.
The property is a two-family home, which White said is perfect for what is needed. One side will remain the same to serve as an example of energy inefficiency, while the other side will be upgraded using the latest energy efficiency techniques and technology, including hot water heater, doors, furnace, windows and appliances. The differences will include a draft and poor sound quality on the original side.
“At the same time, we can have proof and evidence of the energy costs of both sides of this home, because they will be on separate utilities,” he said.
The renovation of the property will be done by Habitat for Humanity, which has partnered with Northeast in the past.
“Helping to make the new NYSERDA lab house a reality is an exciting opportunity for Habitat to learn more about the building science needed to rehab Schenectady’s existing housing stock into energy-efficient, affordable housing,” Anne Rockwood, construction manager for Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County, said in a statement.
White estimated that about 40 percent of the homes in Schenectady could use the upgrades that will be taught at the lab house, including insulation practices.
NYSERDA President and CEO Francis J. Murray Jr. characterized the project’s focus on creating a skilled workforce as critical, considering the growing demands of the clean-energy industry in the Capital Region.
“This innovative lab house project adds strong hands-on work experience, which gives job applicants a step up when applying for jobs,” he said in a statement.
White stressed that the house wouldn’t have been possible without the involvement of NYSERDA.
“We’ve wanted to do this for quite a long time,” he said, noting that the location was particularly good. The house is adjacent to an old firehouse that serves as Northeast’s headquarters for its Home Energy Connection Program.
White added that the property is just one more way that Northeast is working to create a skilled workforce. He said the results of its training would stack up against any competition.
According to a NYSERDA news release, training is also being targeted at young mothers living on public assistance.
In addition to this latest grant, NYSERDA also has distributed $204,000 in federal stimulus money to Northeast for the purchase of equipment for the new lab house and its training center.