Founded with a mission to create good jobs and save energy, NEEC member Clean Energy Works Oregon is a nonprofit customers count on to deliver a more comfortable and energy efficient home.
By growing the market for whole-home energy upgrades, Clean Energy Works is providing access and opportunity to jobseekers, small businesses and homeowners in local communities around Oregon. One person who embodies the organization’s mission is Sary Dobhran, who currently works for one of Clean Energy Works’ 50+ expert contractors.
Sary was a single mother and on welfare when she moved back to Oregon in 2010. She’d graduated the University of Oregon just 7 years earlier with a degree in environmental studies; she’d traveled and worked in Italy and Mexico in between. After her son’s father died, she struggled to regain her footing. The $400-a-month assistance she received went to rent for the single room she shared with her then 3-year-old child.
Sary considered her options and determined that she preferred the hands-on aspect of weatherization and was happy that it built on her past experience in finished carpentry. Like a growing number of successful women who are working in home performance, she enrolled in a pre-apprenticeship program at Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., and also accessed help through WorkSource Oregon, the state’s resource for businesses and jobseekers. She was eventually hired by a contractor, received on-the-job training support and also found more funding for advanced trainings in air and duct sealing and building performance. Sary’s particular journey was funded by a series of grants tied to transforming energy efficiency markets and putting people back to work.
Now Sary works as a residential energy auditor and a home performance technician, and is part of the state’s largest whole-home energy efficiency program. She is enjoying meeting homeowners and hearing the story of their houses and what they want to do. She feels like an “absolute success story” and is committed to making the most of her opportunity so the investments that were made in her are there for others.
In Sary’s words: “My story is a testament to the demographics of the unemployed. We’re often educated. We’re often hardworking. We’re often experienced. We simply need the tools to get into a market like this.”
Sary is one of numerous workers in the state who are reshaping their careers in a sector driven by Clean Energy Works Oregon. Going forward, there is greater potential to provide opportunity to more people like Sary. Oregon has more than 600,000 eligible homes in urban, suburban and rural Oregon in need of energy efficiency upgrades. This could mean:
- $8 billion in direct economic development
- 60,000 new construction hires
- $175 million in annual homeowner expense savings
- 800,000 metric tons of avoided greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to the annual greenhouse emissions of 156,375 cars.