"As far as finding training-related work, that's the challenge," says Susan Garrett, Green Jobs director for the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry.
was hired in March 2010, and training began that July.
Since then, she
reports, 52 people have been trained as biofuels technicians, 24 as solar-thermal installers, 38 as LEED green associates specializing in green-building practices, and 156 as weatherization technicians.
"Now we've got all these wonderful trained people, but the market never materialized," says Garrett
blames a still-weak economy in which many homeowners aren't willing to pay for energy-saving improvements even if it would benefit their household's bottom line while reducing the structure's carbon footprint.
"We've really tried to raise awareness that we have all these trained people," Garrett
says, telling potential employers "We're your talent scouts: We can recruit good people for you."
In the meantime, Garrett
was collaborating with the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute
, which received a grant to install solar panels on eight Asheville restaurants.
is also trying to tap into the Tennessee Valley Authority's Clean Air Act settlement to fund a local version of the stalled federal Home Star program, creating a revolving-loan program that would help homeowners pay for energy-efficiency upgrades.
"Nobody expected the economy to take the hit that it has," Garrett