BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
With the green economy blooming in New York City, a springboard for a new generation of workers in this sector can be found in a corner of Queens.
Members of the City Council visited Solar One, a green energy education center tucked underground in Long Island City, on Monday to learn about its programs and, briefly, to try their hands at solar panel installation. Solar One partners with workforce training organizations throughout the City to prepare New Yorkers for jobs in green building construction and maintenance, among others.
Guided by site manager James King, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan/Bronx), Environmental Protection Committee Chairman Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) toured the facility, looked at weatherization and ventilation equipment and learned how solar panels convert sunlight into useable energy.
The tour also passed through a class of about 20 students, nearing completion of their 6-week training program, where the Council members spoke about the necessity of making New York more sustainable and fostering green jobs.
“We need to consume less energy. We need to be more efficient and these jobs are the way of the future,” Mark-Viverito said to the class. “What you’re doing is really, really important in terms of really helping New York City go to that next level.”
Richards, who sported a green tie for the occasion, commented on the importance of green jobs for communities of color in particular.
“We have to get communities prepared,” Richards said. “We have to start getting engaged in this economy. There are other communities who are way ahead of us and who are taking advantage.”
“There’s no reason that you can’t be able to install a solar panel in Edgemere [in the Rockaways],” he added.
Richard’s committee sparked a $50,000 grant to Solar One this year, through the Greener NYC initiative, according to his office.
One student, who identified himself as Ron, said he came into the program with little knowledge about sustainability and called the training “enlightening.”
“We have a combination of things to learn,” he went on. “It’s basically the fundamentals, just to give us an introduction [and] understanding so that if we decide in the future we want to pursue anything of that nature any further, then we have the tools to do it.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.