September 15, 2014

UCM hopes to turn energy grant into jobs (AUDIO)

A Missouri university hopes to leverage a $190,000 grant to create as many as 2,400 jobs over the next 10 years while making houses in Kansas City more energy efficient.

Efforts to promote energy efficiency have been around for a while, but officials at the University of Central Missouri want to make a more concerted effort to retrofit houses built prior to 2000 to turn on the air conditioner fewer times in the summer and use less heat in the winter. Current energy efficiency codes date back to 2000. Scott Boyce, Workforce Development representative in UCM’s School of Graduate and Extended Studies, calculates that a $10,000 average investment in the 750,000 older homes in the Kansas City metro area would create a $7.5 billion spike in construction jobs.

The job projection is based on a formula used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which estimates that for every $1 million spent on energy improvements five direct, five indirect and 10 induced jobs are created. The program suggested the energy upgrading could occur at time of sale.

Boyce says this is much more than saving a few dollars through cutting utility costs.

“I think that’s part of our challenge and our consumer awareness and our industry awareness campaign, to support the job creation that this industry sector promises to produce,” Boyce says.

The university received the grant from the Missouri State Energy Sector Partnership and Training grant to establish the program. The grant is provided by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Division of Workforce Development, which received federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

How homes could be retrofitted to be more energy efficient depends, according to Boyce, on what an energy audit suggests.

“It will range from things like sealing the rim joist, upgrading the R value of the insulation in the attic. It might prescribe windows. It might prescribe doors, new siding. It might prescribe a new HVAC system,” says Boyce. “It could prescribe a variety of things just based on what the auditor assesses when they’re on site.”

Several organizations are working with the university on the project, including the Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council; AFL-CIO; Liberty Homes; Rebuilding Management LLC; Hathmore Technologies; Kansas City & Vicinity Workforce Investment Board and the Full Employment.

In addition to work in the Kansas City metro area, the university plans to work in a more rural setting, the area surrounding Warrensburg where UCM is located.

For more on the program, visit the UCM website.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:20 MP3]