Clean Energy Corps

In 2011, Service and Conservation Corps helped thousands of people save money. Corpsmembers assessed or improved the energy efficiency in 55,191 homes. That’s similar to the number of houses in a city like Springfield, Illinois.

Investment in green, clean energy is a pressing national priority. Global warming threatens the planet's future, the cost of petroleum-based energy decreases our economic competitiveness, and our dependence on foreign oil creates multiple national security problems.

At the same time, we face the most serious economic crisis in decades, with rapidly escalating joblessness and rapidly declining consumer confidence. Americans need to go back to work.

Service can help to solve both of these problems. The president signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act into law in April 2009. As part of this landmark legislation, the Clean Energy Service Corps was created, establishing a grant program for clean energy projects for Corps across the country. (The Corporation for National and Community Service administers the grant program.)

This significant investment in Corps can reduce energy use and mitigate the effects of climate change, engage young unemployed men and women in productive environmental action that gives them substantial and relevant job and work skills, and put cash into circulation through modest Corpsmember stipends, which are spent immediately on basic needs.

There are currently 9 Corps operating Clean Energy Corps crews in cities across the country, including New York, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, Austin, and Bend, as well as smaller communities like Waukegan, Illinois, Norwich, New York, and Traverse City, Michigan. To date, more than 400 young people have been enrolled in the program, and have participated in activities such as weatherizing and retrofitting homes for low-income families, conducting energy audits, and educating residents about energy efficiency tactics, discounts, and rebates.

In a recent six month period, the Clean Energy Corps weatherized and retrofitted 493 homes, of which 98 percent showed reduced annual energy usage based on pre and post-test data. In this same six month period, 3,510 households were informed about energy and cost-saving strategies and 746 additional community volunteers were mobilized on service projects.

But perhaps the biggest benefit comes to the Corpsmembers themselves. They receive credentials like the Building Performance Institute (BPI) Insulation/Air Sealing Technician certification, which allow them to more competitively pursue careers in the growing green energy industry.