To an outsider, Arizona's Foundation for Senior Living (FSL) probably sounds like an organization that deals just with retired folks.
But a closer look reveals a more diverse organization.
Not only does the 35-year-old nonprofit perform energy upgrades for low-income residents, but in Maricopa County and the Phoenix area it also trains a good part of the weatherization workforce to do that.
Expanding building science
Since 2004, more than 1,450 people have completed programs at the Foundation's weatherization training center. Now, because of Weatherization Assistance Program grant of $525,000 through the Recovery Act, many more could follow suit.
With the funds, the FSL's Southwest Building Science Training Center will receive enhanced technology in its classrooms and labs and five new courses for its curriculum.
The grant was awarded by the state's Department of Commerce Energy Office, as part of its goal to increase the green workforce and improve the energy efficiency of homes in the arid state.
"We've always had a close working relationship with FSL," says Terry Rother, manager of building science and efficiency for the Energy Office. "They always show leadership in pursuing opportunities, improving their programs and assisting the state in achieving its weatherization goals."
The five new curriculums include Envelope Professional Certification; HVA Certification; Multi-Family Weatherization and Certification; Insulation & Thermal Performance; and Combustion Safety and Health & Safety.
FSL will also use the funds to improve the technology at the center, with more hands-on, classroom and online instruction, says Carrie Smith, chief of in-home services at FSL.
So far this year, 517 people have been certified at the Southwest Building Science Training Center, with more most likely on the way after the new certifications are implemented as soon as this winter.
"There is an interest from a whole spectrum of people," says Smith. "Many of the contractors from the housing sector are seeing that energy efficiency and renewable energy is the future."