SWEET Green Energy Training Center Opens in Midtown

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(APN) ATLANTA — On October 26, 2010, a new facility called the Southeast Weatherization and Efficiency Training (SWEET) Center opened in Atlanta’s Midtown on Piedmont, south of North Avenue, next to the post office.

The SWEET Center is a project of Southface, an Atlanta non-profit that has operated since 1978.  For years, Southface has been successful at working with developers, contractors, and government agencies to promote sustainable communities.

The SWEET Center is a one of a kind training facility in Georgia, Dennis Creech, Southface’s Executive Director, told Atlanta Progressive News.

The Center is a hands-on weatherization efficiency training center, for contractors, heating and air professionals, developers, and renovation centers.

After the training, attendees receive national certifications.

Sean Bleything manages the SWEET Center and oversees all training.

The Center is located a few blocks from the main Southface building, which is on Pine Street, east of Piedmont.

So far, Bleything  has trained and certified close to 800 professionals, which, in turn, has helped educate 3,500 homeowners.  

The SWEET Center’s goal is to train and certify industry professionals, so that our  buildings, homes, and communities can become weatherized, energy efficient, sustainable, free of mold and allergens, and otherwise healthy.

This will dramatically reduces energy costs, while helping our environment, Creech said.

Currently the federal government has stimulus money to help renovate and update older government building, apartments, and businesses.

The SWEET Center was started with this federal stimulus money, along with the generous donations from over twenty sponsors and partners, including the US Department of Energy, Home Depot Foundation, the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, the Energy Conservatory, Kohler Company, and Mitsubishi Electric HVAC, just to name a few.

Although the Center is currently funded by these sponsors and stimulus money, Creech hopes it will soon be financially self-sustaining.  The Center charges a modest fee for the training.

Currently the center is only open to all commercial professionals in the industry, but in the future Creech hopes to offer residential training to non-professionals.

Creech said the Center is important because Georgia now imports 100 percent of its energy, so the only hope to reduce costs and our impact on the environment, is to become more energy efficient by weatherizing and greening our buildings, and cutting back on our personal energy consumption.

Although weatherization and the greening of buildings is important, the biggest impact we can make is through changing our personal energy consumption, Creech and Bleything said.

We, as individuals, can have a tremendous impact on our environment just by turning off lights, taking shorter showers, driving less, turning down the heat, or not using the air-conditioning all the time.

Bleything mentioned that when he went overseas, everyone was bundled up, and the buildings were kept at a low 64 degrees.

He said that instead of turning up our heat, we should put on a sweater; and that it doesn’t matter how efficient the light bulbs or appliances are, if we don’t turn them off.

Bleything said Southface and the SWEET Center can help train those who build our communities to be as energy efficient as possible, but it is our job as individuals to reduce our personal energy consumption.

Creech and Bleything like to think of citizens as partners, because it is not wise to believe science and new technology alone will solve all our environmental problems.

Although the SWEET Center is for those in the industry, Southface has education programs available for the entire community.

(END / 2011)

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