Issues & AdvocacyState
The National Association of Counties’ 2012 annual conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 13-17 witnessed policy frameworks and current initiatives at the crossroads of design and innovation. These developments in energy and urban revitalization will help create long-term jobs and economic growth.
Delegates at the Air Quality and Energy joint subcommittee meeting discussed challenges in abating air pollution related to energy use. Councilman David Gabrielson from Bedford, New York, then presented on the status of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs nationally and the town’s own pilot program that includes commercial energy efficiency projects. PACE financing was one important topic addressed by county representatives this year, and the delegates at the Environment, Energy, and Land Use Committee brought forth a resolution urging the federal government to support PACE financing.
A mobile workshop also showcased one of Pittsburgh’s initiatives – plans for the rehabilitation of its former Connelley Trade School into a LEED Platinum Energy Innovation Center. Redesigned in collaboration with DLA Architects, Graves Design Group, and Evolve, the 1930’s 6.5-acre complex will break ground in 2012. Amidst a complementary mix of tenants intended to support innovation, it will house university-industry projects, technology demonstration laboratories, an early-stage business incubator, and targeted workforce training programs with aggressive job placement. The Center will implement its cutting-edge, long-term workforce development strategy through agreements with local and national companies. Its stunning views of the downtown could be symbolic: the facility will serve as a catalyst to connect economically disenfranchised local residents to jobs while further advancing the Allegheny County’s leadership in the energy technologies sector.
This year’s NACo conference panels on leadership urged delegates to spur and support innovation in their communities. Policies and initiatives such as these are needed to create local economies of the 21st century across the United States.
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