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updated: 3/18/2011 9:36 AM

Aurora, Waubonsee ready to expand green jobs training

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As suburbanites become more concerned with energy efficiency, the area may need more professionals certified to analyze homes and businesses for ways their heating and cooling systems can function better.

Waubonsee Community College is poised to begin offering two new work force development classes in energy efficiency through a green jobs partnership with the city of Aurora, pending city council approval.

Courses will be offered in air sealing and insulation as well as energy efficiency analysis for single-family homes and multifamily buildings, said Lena Norris, Waubonsee's dean of work force development. Only the single-family home analysis course has been offered before, she said.

While anyone can sign up for the courses, offered in daylong sessions over four or five days, construction workers and small business owners are the college's target audience, Norris said.

"It could be laborers or construction folks who are out of work, a way to broaden their skills, look for other job opportunities," Norris said. "Somebody who has a background in the trade is well-suited for the job."

The partnership with the city would provide $40,000 for tuition reimbursements available to some students after they successfully complete a class and pass any tests required to receive certification, said Karen Zilly, development coordinator for the city's neighborhood redevelopment division.

Aurora residents, city-licensed contractors or anyone who works for or owns a business in Aurora would be eligible for tuition reimbursements, Zilly said. Reimbursement funding would come from money the city received through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Fees for each course are about $2,400, Norris said. And because the courses last only about a week, the college doesn't have to wait for the summer session or a new semester to begin offering them. If city reimbursement funding is approved, the three work force development courses could begin by the end of April.

"This is really a great opportunity for any professional who's looking to start a new business or expand their current construction business," Norris said. "If you're looking to branch out into sustainability initiatives, this would be a good way to do it."

Aldermen are expected to approve the contract with Waubonsee at Tuesday's city council meeting.