Money Flows to Green Projects and Training

Date: January 20, 2010

As evidence of the growing recognition that sound environmental policies and green building and career alternatives provide a way to heal the ailing economy, Federal and State governments are redirecting funding and grants to both green projects and career training. With the help of Federal funding, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia have all initiated efforts to promote sustainable development practices and green job training.

Both Maryland and the District of Columbia have been awarded a portion of a federal work force training grant to impart more environmentally forward skills to over 500 area residents. The jurisdictions are receiving a portion of an overall $4.6 million stimulus grant from the Department of Labor's Energy Training Partnership. The money is to train workers for new and existing green jobs. Assistance is also available for those currently employed so that they may obtain post secondary training and certificates in new environmentally friendly techniques for delivering services.

Governor Martin O'Malley recently announced a plan to re-create Maryland's Heritage Tax Credit program through a $50 million tax credit available to facilitate smart growth by adding a green building component to the traditional historic tax credit previously offered by Maryland. Priority is given to green building projects in communities with ties to mass transit. The new program will require approval by the Maryland General Assembly and replaces the expiring Heritage Tax Credit Program.

In southwestern Virginia, Representative Rick Boucher announced earlier this month that a $3.9 million Federal grant has been awarded to establish a green building training program throughout the region. The new program, know as CREATES (Construction, Retrofitting, and Energy Efficiency Assessment Training and Employment Services), has many partners in the region including the local community colleges. The goal is to teach these new skills to meet the needs of an ever changing work environment. In addition Virginia received $39 million in Federal aid for renewable energy projects, the homeowners portion of which has already been fully subscribed.

With many State legislatures beginning their 2010 sessions, the likelihood of additional programs in the near future remains possible, despite the budget crunches faced by many States.