Building a healthier, more prosperous Pittsburgh through energy efficiency

By Green For All | August 12, 2013
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Tim Carryer-from RyanTim Carryer has always loved the outdoors—he’s spent time traveling in Alaska, and scuba diving off the coast of Massachusetts. The pollution and environmental degradation he saw while spending time in nature always disturbed him. But he never really thought of himself as an environmental advocate, until recently.

Carryer had worked for years as a high-end remodeler. He saw first hand how much waste occurred in the industry, and wondered if he could do something about it. Around that time, Pennsylvania rolled out its statewide workforce training program, focused on weatherization and energy efficiency. Though the program was nationally recognized, those who underwent the program faced one issue: there was no demand for workers with this skill set, leaving many out of work.

Carryer, a born entrepreneur, saw an opportunity. He started his own company, Carryer Construction, specializing in deep efficiency upgrades taking a whole-house approach. He also founded Green Over Green, a hub for home energy performance businesses and professionals. In 2010, he set up Diagnostic Energy Auditors of Western Pennsylvania (DEAWP), which connects members with training as well as industry and community opportunities. The goal is to build a regional network of businesses and organizations in the home performance industry to create business collaborations and facilitate long-term success.

Despite his work with these important groups, Carryer began to feel increasingly concerned that the industry was not fulfilling the promise of green jobs. Even with his efforts, no amount of training will create green jobs without market demand – the industry had a marketing challenge. In an effort to change that, he took part in a roundtable that brought together dozens of stakeholders in the energy efficiency sector, including nonprofits, policymakers, and funders, with the goal of identifying ways to cultivate demand and create real jobs.

This was where Carryer met Andrew Butcher, co-founder and CEO of GTECH Strategies (Growth Through Energy and Community Health). He realized that he and Butcher shared the same goal, but Butcher’s vision was even broader than his own. Butcher raised money for a marketing program based on community outreach and was building a network within each community, playing matchmaker by connecting neighborhood to available resources that addressed their needs.

Carryer recognized the power of GTECH’s mission and strategy. When he heard they were looking for an Energy Director, he jumped at the opportunity. Carryer, 66, now spends his time working to fight pollution and spur the green economy in Pittsburgh.

As Energy Director for GTECH, he is leading the Reenergize Pittsburgh initiative. The effort taps into GTECH’s strong network of small businesses, nonprofits, utilities and weatherization contractors to identify and address neighborhood energy needs. The goal is to create green job opportunities for local workers while bringing energy, health and cost benefits to Pittsburgh residents.

The organization works from the ground up, identifying and recruiting energy ambassadors from sixteen Pittsburgh neighborhoods to help identify what each community needs. GTECH works with churches and community organizations to build demand for and deliver energy efficiency. Then GTECH draws on its coalition members of building analysts, weatherization experts, and utilities to implement energy-saving measures in single-family homes. The initiative aims to slash carbon pollution in Pittsburgh by 200 metric tons during its first-year pilot, and grow into a long-term program. Carryer is aiming to drop neighborhood energy use by at least 20 percent and, if possible, up to 40 percent.

But it’s not just an environmental initiative. The Alleghany County Health Department has shown interest in the health benefits of energy efficiency upgrades, which can help decrease asthma triggers such as moisture, dust, and drafts.

Today, his favorite part about working with GTECH Strategies is building a strong network through fixing buildings and joining training programs that focus not just on weatherization, but on marketing energy efficiency. His hope is for the network to perform high-quality work that builds trust and that reaches at least one-third of Pittsburgh’s homes.

He believes Pittsburgh should serve as a model for other cities in spurring energy efficiency. The region is already ahead of the game, he says, because it has transitioned from a jobless coal town to inclusive city with booming economic development. His vision of Pittsburgh is a city with green career ladders for disadvantaged residents, a thriving energy efficiency sector, and healthy, prosperous communities. And with GTECH, he’s working to create it—one neighborhood at a time.

Read more stories in our “I am the Green Economy” campaign here

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