Green can be a polarizing term. Especially when it brings about images of swimming polar bears, talk of carbon and climate change, or messaging to turn the thermostat down and put on your jumper, like ol’ Jimmy Carter. Environmentalism has typically cast a message about scarcity that only appeals to a relatively small number of people who resonate with this argument. However, through a slightly different approach, Vice President Al Gore presented an intellectual case that seems to have gotten our preconceived notions of tree-huggers and tie-dyes off the table and into the Board room—where they need to be in order to have a larger impact on our environmental and economic bottom lines.
My audacious idea is that Baltimore becomes a model for enterprising community programming that creates a net Green3 result. This vision of a Green3 model is one that supports the three pillars of a sustainable community: stewarding the health of people, stewarding the health of the environment, and having a healthy revenue-generating conduit for these changes. Some advocates call this a triple-bottom line or integrated bottom line. And there is a strong example of this approach happening right now in Baltimore.
Green jobs guru, Van Jones, who many of you may have had the opportunity to share the presence of at the Open Society Institute-Baltimore annual Fellowship Luncheon in 2007, would be taken aback by the innovative green-job development and Green3 programs of Civic Works, Baltimore’s service corps. Three notable programs that Civic Works operates in our cities’ row houses are: B’More Green, Cool Roofs, and EnergyReady. Each focuses on providing hands-on workforce training to unemployed and underemployed city residents while either mitigating brownfield areas or providing energy performance updates for homeowners—increasing their homes’ comfort, efficiency, and striving to save them money on their utility bills as a result of the retrofits. These are programs that we need to support in Baltimore!
B’More Green is 6-week green job training program that has graduated 16 classes since 2003 under Green Projects Director, John Mello. The program provides highly marketable skills to individuals and has resulted in 90% post-program job placement for the over 250 graduates. Cool Roofs is an innovative reflective-roof installation program entering its second full year of operations. Cool Roofs provides on-the-job experiences for underemployed folks, while coating homeowner’s rooftops with a heat and solar reflecting surface—reducing heat absorption of the home, increasing comfort, and lessening demand for air conditioning. EnergyReady launched as a social enterprise, with technical help from the University of Baltimore in 2009 with a crew of 4 eager Baltimoreans who were in need of employment. EnergyReady has doubled in size and is a full home performance contracting program—providing energy audits, consultation, and direct installation of efficiency measures like weather-stripping and insulation. Civic Works is truly an excellent Green3 model organization for Baltimore to celebrate—creating economically-sustainable businesses, training our underemployed in real marketable skills, helping our homeowners make their homes more efficient, and helping our community become a healthier place to live. Go Green3, Hon!