The People Behind the Award

Energy Corps

IREC awardOn October 22nd, 2013, The ECA Green Jobs Training Center won the 2013 Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s (IREC) Clean Energy Training Program of the Year Award. There are many well publicized reasons why the ECA received this tremendous honor. As stated in the 2013 IREC 3i AWARDS brochure, the ECA “offer[ed] energy education workshops to some 8,000 individuals”, “promote[s] a sustainable and socially equitable energy future for all in the Mid-Atlantic region” and “cultivates opportunities for women and minorities to enter the energy efficiency industry.”[1] Additionally, the ECA’s transformation of a former Civil War uniform manufacturing facility into a state of the art, LEED GOLD certified, green jobs training facility has made headlines across Philadelphia.[2]

 

ECA Training Center Staff (from ecasavesenergy.org)

ECA Training Center Staff (from ecasavesenergy.org)

While these macro, institutional accomplishments are very impressive, this blog will focus on the micro. This essay will celebrate the small, everyday actions of ECA employees because ultimately, it is these individuals that make the ECA Green Jobs Training Center a special facility. Although there are numerous laudable characteristics of training center employees, this article will focus on two prominent themes: 1 the pursuit of improvement, and 2 above and beyond customer service.

According to Scott Colement, Assistant Director of Training, the ECA Green Jobs Training Center’s success is due to a “constant pursuit of i

mprovement.”[3] The ECA staff is always working to enhance the educational product offered to students. At the heart of this “pursuit of improvement” is continuous instructor education. The ECA recognizes that to prepare students for employment in the ever evolving green buildings field, ECA instructors must presented students with the newest cutting edge theories and ideas. Therefore, ECA instructors continually study the newest developments in weatherization, building design and energy efficiency.

No instructor works harder to improve his or her understanding of the subject he or she teaches than David Dennis. David, a certified Building Performance Institute (BPI) Proctor and Instructor with years of experience in construction and weatherization, is constantly refining his understanding of building

science. David routinely participates in energy audits to “practice what I teach”[4], watches informational webinars, and reads about the latest developments in residential energy efficiency. Additionally, David recently decided to push his subject knowledge to new heights as he enrolled in the Community College of Philadelphia to study building science and architecture at a collegiate level. David’s passion for learning is shared by his coworkers as ECA employees constantly watch educational videos, read, and take online classes to ensure that they are presenting students with the most advanced, progressive ideas in the building science field.

Although presenting students with innovative ideas is critical to any educational operation, classroom knowledge is negated if students practice applying classroom lessons with obsolete tools. That is why Chris Gill, the Training Center’s Building Manager, claims that he continually “update[es] the tools and equipment” he provides to students. Chris stresses the importance of providing students with “the right tool” and allowing trainees to “work with the best, cutting edge green technologies available.”[5]  Therefore, Chris constantly researches “new gadgets” to increase his understanding of which tools will allow ECA students to gain the technical skills to improve their employability and become successful weatherization workers.

Above and beyond customer service is the second distinctive characteristic of ECA employees that this paper will discuss. Scott claims that, “we try and go above and beyond to teach our students weatherization and professionalism.”[6] No employee epitomizes this “above and beyond” mentality more than Register Sherleen Laboy. Sherleen’s job demands that she help students with registration paperwork, collect payments, schedule tests, and more. However, Sherleen is so much more than a register to her students as she comforts trainees after hard days, brings them hot chocolate, allows them to confide in her, and has been known to call ECA students “her babies.”

The ECA is not a job placement company. The ECA staff’s responsibilities for students end immediately after final exams. However, Sherleen keeps student resumes and personal documents so that she can recommend students to various employers. Sherleen even goes as far as to check in on past students to see how they are doing. Sherleen’s enthusiasm for helping students is shared by the entire ECA team. David routinely meets with students outside of classroom hours to discuss difficult topics and Intern Bill Pedersen often stays well after his shift ends to help students prepare for exams.

While winning a national IREC Award is a true honor, it is not what makes the ECA Green Jobs Training Center special.  The truly remarkable aspect of the ECA is the people who constitute it, and their commitment to improvement and customer service.

member_bill-pedersonBill Pedersen, a native of Wellesley, Massachusetts, Bill attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York graduating in May 2013. As an undergraduate Bill majored in Environmental Studies with a focus in American Studies, and minored in History. Bill has previous internship experiences with the Appalachian Mountain Club and a Boston based solar development company. Outside of work, Bill is an avid outdoors man who enjoys hiking, fishing, biking, and boating. Bill is serving as an energy auditing intern with the Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bill is very excited about serving with the Energy Corps and making a difference in Philadelphia communities.


[1] Interstate Renewable Energy Council, “IREC’s 3i Awards” (Chicago: 10/22/2013) 2.

[2] “Onorato Tours Green Job Training Facility, Touts Jobs Plan in Philly” (Politics Pa, 2010) <http://www.politicspa.com/archiv/onorato-tours-green-job-training-facility-touts-jobs-plan-in-philly >

Gloria Blakely, “Philadelphia wins green jobs training award”(Examiner.com: 2010) <http://www.examiner.com/article/philadelphia-wins-green-jobs-training-award>

[3] Scott Coleman, Interview with Bill Pedersen (11/8/2013)

[4] David Dennis, Interview with Bill Pedersen (11/8/2013)

[5] Chris Gill, Interview with Bill Pedersen (11/8/2013)

[6] Scott Coleman, Interview with Bill Pedersen (11/8/2013)

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