ANSON SMITH AT 203-332-5229 OR LEIGH ROBERTS AT 203-331- 5264



Around Housatonic Community College, Leigh Roberts is becoming known as the Green Lady.

The reason is simple. The New Haven resident, who joined Housatonic in January as workforce development coordinator, is overseeing the development of weatherization training courses that will be created in the area thanks to the $65 million in economic stimulus funds that’s coming to Connecticut for this purpose.  Much of the emphasis will be on helping low and moderate income families trim their energy bills.

“Energy conservation is a key component of any green program,” Roberts said. “Making the most of the energy you generate is as important as finding newer, greener sources of energy.”

“Conservation measures are far less expensive and far less environmentally harmful than developing new sources of energy,” she said. “Weather stripping and low wattage fluorescent light bulbs are less expensive than new heating and cooling systems, and far less expensive than new power plants. And its environmental impact is zero!”

There is certainly a demand for weatherization and conservation in the Greater Bridgeport area, she said. “We estimate that there are some 3,000 units in the area that could benefit from this,” she said.

Not only will the program help people trim their energy bills, she said, it will create “green collar” jobs. It is estimated that the new program will create some 1,500 new jobs in the Bridgeport area over the next 10 years.

One course that is being created, she said, is a weatherization auditor course. This will train people to go into houses to identify steps that can be taken to make the house more energy efficient, simple steps such as installing weather-stripping, repairing or replacing drafty windows and doors, or using low wattage bulbs.

The second course, weatherization technician, will train people to implement the recommendations of the auditor. This type of job, she said, will appeal to people who have a background in building science or construction technology.

“These positions are as much job retraining as job training,” she said. “With the slumping economy, a technicians’ job, for example, would appeal to a carpenter who has been unable to find work as well as someone fresh out of high school or the service.”

To help the new worker or the formerly self-employed worker whose business has been hurt by the economy, she said, each course will include units on job hunting, which will cover such things as resume writing, and interviewing skills.

Housatonic, Roberts noted, will be part of the weatherization effort in two ways. Part of the $65 million will go to community service agencies throughout the area to help the people they serve. Those in the greater Bridgeport area will send these people to Housatonic for training.  

In addition, the Community College System itself will receive some $1.5 million. This will be divided up among the state’s 12 community colleges and technical high schools to offer courses to the general public. HCC will have its courses up and running in the Fall.

Roberts, for one, is eager to get the program off the ground. “It will help people stretch their energy dollar while, at the same time, provide jobs and career ladders for people who need them,” she said. “It’s truly a win-win situation.”

For more information about the weatherization courses, call Roberts at 203-332-5264.