(Credit: U.S. Navy / Greg Vojtko/Released)

A growing number of home and business owners want to increase energy efficiency. To do so, many will need to hire local contractors who are trained to perform home energy audits and retrofit buildings.

Shoemaker: “These jobs cannot be outsourced. They exist really in the communities that need these services, and so that is what really excites me.”

Mary Shoemaker is with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. She says energy efficiency can be a tool for economic development in underserved or minority communities. But workers need to be prepared to fill those jobs.

To make that happen, cities can work with local groups …

Shoemaker: “… who have deep relationships in some of those underserved communities and who understand what the employment needs are, what the existing skill sets might be.”

For example, the city of New Orleans helped prepare workers for green building certification exams. To recruit participants …

Shoemaker: “The city worked really extensively to engage local nonprofits and associations that represent minority contractors.”

She says this approach helps promote a diverse workforce and ensure that people who need the work the most have an opportunity to participate in the growing energy efficiency industry.

Reporting credit: Daisy Simmons/ChavoBart Digital Media.