Skill and Life Training are Part of the YouthBuild USA Experience

Little did I know that when I accepted the invitation to participate in theYouthBuild USA sponsorship launch in Worcester, Massachusetts that I would actually be put to work! 

My first professional job when I finished college was in Worcester and it was nice to return, especially to take part in an event bringing student skills training and neighborhood rebuilding together.

CertainTeed’s parent company Saint-Gobain recently launched a three-year partnership to support YouthBuild USA projects in Philadelphia, PA; Worcester, MA; Schenectady, NY and Akron, OH. The sponsorship is not just financial but includes product donations, technical expertise and training.

While it is always nice to be part of a check presentation supporting an organization providing valuable service and training to youth, this particular event brought in a new and personally gratifying dimension for me – the opportunity to work along side the teachers and the students from YouthBuild.

I was assigned to a team installing a CertainTeed Evernew® deck and railing on the back portion of the building. Other groups were working on installing CertaWrap™ house wrap and our Weatherboards™ fiber cement siding product.

I don’t usually have the opportunity to get ‘hands on’ with building materials and had forgotten how important math skills and teamwork are in the building trades.  The YouthBuild teacher would ask the students questions about the measurements and checking on the accuracy before cutting product. It was obvious this had recently been part of the classroom instruction for these apprentices.

I also realized that what makes YouthBuild special is that not just the teaching of building skills but the development of life skills that these students experience by showing up every day.  For example, the importance of listening to the instructor or foreman on a worksite, the attention to detail, applying knowledge learned, working well with others, the commitment to completing the job, and the pride in seeing the finished product.

We should all be reminded of the value in an honest day’s work.  I could see it in the accomplishments of these students in Worcester.

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation

Sustainability Sprint – The Dash to Keep Up

Lucas Hamilton

The days of not keeping up with trends is over. Like it or not sustainability is here to stay and you don’t want to get left behind.

The race is on to keep up with the ever-changing world of sustainability and it is causing manufacturers and building professionals to scramble to catch up. It’s a subject matter with a great deal to learn. There are outside influences like building codes and socio-economic influences driving sustainability into the mainstream, and people may feel like they are out of step and that their vocabulary is insufficient to accurately communicate about sustainability. 

Training is the key. We, at CertainTeed are in the midst of a continuing education initiative for our sales force, our customers and others on sustainability. We are addressing what programs have changed, what requirements have changed and what new technologies are available. Sustainability is influencing our trends, in terms of types of products we use. There is increased use of vegetative roofs, photovoltaics and other, much needed, energy efficiency methods being incorporated into buildings to improve performance. 

In addition to these “outbound” activities, we have a significant internal focus on our manufacturing facilities and CertainTeed employees. First you have to “green” your products, then your facilities, and then your people and practices. It is an on-going “organic” process which never stops.

Urban areas outpace rural areas with regard to sustainability, which was discussed in a previous blog, indicating that there is still a long way to go with regard to education and training on sustainability.

I am finding that people are a little afraid of sustainability because the practice is still new and it’s catching them off guard.  The trick is to get into it, stay into it, have conversations with people and learn from each other about sustainability. 

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation.