As a co-founder of Emerald Cities Seattle, Sage won several key agreements to promote energy efficiency retrofits as a means of creating green job opportunities for workers traditionally left out of construction jobs.

Two of the biggest challenges currently facing our communities are recovering from the highest unemployment since the Great Depression are 1.) There are not enough trained workers to weatherize buildings on the scale necessary to meet climate protection goals. 2.) At the same time, communities of color have been hit hard by the economic crisis and are often excluded from good jobs during good times.

Remarkably, one solution—energy efficiency retrofits, like adding insulation and weather stripping—helps address both problems simultaneously, while also saving money for families, businesses and government.

In 2009, Puget Sound Sage co-founded Emerald Cities Seattle, a partnership of labor, business, environmental and community organizations to promote energy efficiency retrofits to create quality “green job” opportunities for workers traditionally left out of construction jobs.  

Green jobs include installation of insulation, new windows, weather stripping, and more efficient heating and air conditioning equipment.

Together, Sage and the Green Jobs Coalition won several key agreements:

  • In 2009, the City of Seattle decided on an agreement, which ensured that 75% of jobs created by the City’s Homewise program retrofitting low-income homes, would go to disadvantaged workers graduating from community-based construction training programs.
  • Seattle City Council approved a Community High Road Agreement for the City's Community Power Works (CPW) program, which ensured quality training, living wages, and career pathways for low-income residents and disadvantaged workers. The CPW program invested $140 million in energy efficiency retrofits, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 169,700 tons, and provided more than 11,266 jobs.
  • Evergreen Jobs Act: Sage joined environmental and labor groups in Olympia to pass legislation targeting federal energy efficiency funding for jobs benefitting veterans, low-income and disadvantaged populations, and ensuring job quality standards.

Community High Road Agreement, June 2010:

City of Seattle - "The high-road employment and contracting standards in this Agreement will direct employment and training opportunities to community residents, while imposing quality standards on training programs, working conditions, and contractor performance.
Together, these standards will ensure that the City’s program creates high-quality and broadly-accessible jobs for area residents, while maximizing the environmental benefits of the program.
In addition, the Agreement creates mechanisms for stakeholders to play a central role in the ongoing implementation, evaluation, and adjustment of the program. This ensures that the program benefits from diverse expertise in the community, while also strengthening accountability and democracy.
The City hopes to create a national model for high-road residential conservation programs, combining strong, workable employment and contracting standards with substantial and measurable environmental, economic, and consumer benefits."