"How many of you represent community groups?" calls out CWF's Emmaia Gelman. About one third of attendees raise their hands. Another third represented home performance contracting companies, and the last third represented workforce intermediaries, academics and policy experts.

Since 2006, The Center for Working Families ("The Center") has been working with community-based organizations, elected officials, policy advocates, and environmental organizations to develop and implement ambitious policy reform agendas. With a focus on creating income, health, and job equality, The Center works with local allies to build the momentum and capacity necessary to reform policies which disproportionately affect low income families in New York state. Since 2007, The Center has viewed addressing the challenge of climate change as a chance to redress long-standing inequalities in race, class and opportunity through their Green Jobs/Green NY (GJGNY) program. Developed in partnership with a diverse coalition GJGNY is a comprehensive blueprint for a new green economy structured for broad public benefit, and for the reduction of carbon emissions from residential buildings in all sectors, including homes owned by hard-to-reach low income families. The innovative program removes long-standing barriers of financing, contracting and program design within the energy retrofit sector, and works to build new relationships between different stakeholder groups such as grassroots organizations, workforce trainers, unions, contractors, environmental groups, utilities groups, and state agencies to make community-scale retrofitting a reality.

The Center's capacity to work on multiple fronts with a diverse group of stakeholders has been key to its continued success in the green retrofitting sector, and its unique mix of expertise in community organizing, finance, policy, and implementation strategies have shown it to be a clear leader in this growing area; in September 2009 the New York State legislature passed the Green Jobs-Green NY Act based on the Center's policy blueprint and directed $112 million to the program. Signed into law in October 2009, the GJGNY program is set to launch in late 2010. The GJGNY program will be the largest residential retrofit program ever initiated in the United States and will serve as a model for regional and national replication.

If properly implemented, the program will have a significant impact in New York state, and will:

  • Combat climate change by reducing home energy consumption by 30 percent to 40 percent in one million homes over five years - and in millions more New York homes and businesses in subsequent years. This will save an estimated 3.39 million tons of carbon equivalent emissions per year - or the equivalent of taking more than 600,000 cars off the road.
  • Create 60,000 green job-years directly related to the expansion of retrofit work and another 60,000 job-years indirectly through additional economic activity.  In total, they translate to over 14,000 permanent, full-time jobs for local people with good wages and benefits.
  • Save New York households more than $1 billion annually in total household energy savings across the program.
  • Leverage $5 billion in private investments to pay for retrofits through the creation of an innovative financing model to secure third-party investments, using utility bills as the vehicle for collecting small monthly repayments over ten years.

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