SmartWatt Partners with California Conservation Corp to Create Jobs

For the past year, SmartWatt’s Placentia and Rocklin, California offices have worked jointly with the California Conservation Corp Energy Corps crews to make energy solutions more affordable for California’s K-12 schools and community colleges.  This year, they expanded the relationship and began an internship program, which has resulted in full-time jobs at SmartWatt.

The California Conservation Corp’s Proposition 39-funded Energy Corps, comprised of young men and women between the ages of 18 and 25, was created not only to provide statewide assistance to Local Education Agencies (LEA) with energy surveys and energy-efficiency retrofit projects, but to provide real world training to young individuals that will help transition them into clean energy jobs. By deconstructing the engineering audit and design process, entry level employees are trained to contribute to the engineering process by doing the bulk of the audit work for the engineers. Since January 2014, California Conservation Corp crews have surveyed hundreds of school districts’ sites, totaling thousands of school buildings.

Last year, SmartWatt established a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the California Conservation Corp, allowing us to partner with their field survey teams.  Because the Energy Corps crews thoroughly document each site, from fenestration to plug loads, lighting and HVAC equipment, SmartWatt is able to use the data for the engineering analysis behind the measures found in our Proposition 39-compliant Energy Opportunity Survey Reports.  The effort from the Energy Corps crews proportionally decreases the time our engineering team needs to be on site, allowing us to pass these savings through to California school districts. Since the commencement of the partnership and as a direct result of the California Conservation Corp’s survey data, SmartWatt has passed along more than $3 million, that would have otherwise gone to consultants for auditing services, back to the California School System to be contributed towards the construction of much needed classroom modernization projects.

After spending time on job sites with the Energy Corps crews and recognizing the capability of their teams to do more advanced work, SmartWatt decided it would be a mutual beneficial opportunity to create engineering internship positions in its Placentia and Rocklin offices.  The internships, through a hands-on learning experience, allow the recruits to take a more holistic approach to energy projects, helping create and develop five year expenditure plans which are submitted to the California Energy Commission (CEC) for review and approval.  Through the process, they learn valuable clean energy job skills by assisting the SmartWatt engineering teams with energy calculations, benchmark analysis and building system descriptions. The interns are also exposed to the real world requirements of doing construction work in California Schools, including Division of State Architect (DSA) rules and regulations and Title 24 compliance.

Recently, two California Conservation Corp Energy Corps interns, Jesus Muniz and Gabriel Navarro, were offered full-time positions with SmartWatt after the successful completion of their internship. Prior to joining SmartWatt, Jesus was a team leader responsible for performing audits at more than 100 schools as part of the CCC Energy Corps crew, and he also worked in the construction industry.

“Working with the California Conservation Corp and completing my internship with SmartWatt gave me the knowledge and tools to grow. I have learned so much and been motivated to go back to school to continue my education,” explained Jesus. “Life from here on out is about moving forward and not looking back! I feel like I’m living the American Dream.”

Jesus has joined the SmartWatt staff as a Project Associate on their lighting engineering team, and has begun taking engineering classes at Mt. San Antonio Community College.

Prior to joining SmartWatt, Gabriel Navarro directly supervised 30 at-risk youth between 18-25 years of age, aided in the planning of projects, met with sponsors, developed project schedules and conducted energy audits for more than 100 schools as part of the California Conservation Corp Energy Corps crew. He also took advantage of the advanced training offered through the program, available through University of California at Davis and Northern California Environmental Training Center.

“Initially, I was skeptical about whether the California Conservation Corp Energy Corps experience would actually lead to a job,” said Gabriel. “But once I started my internship, it showed me the light at the end of the tunnel. This opportunity is exactly what I needed, and I’m proud I was able to rise to the occasion.”

Gabriel has joined SmartWatt as a Project Associate on their integrated solutions engineering team and is enrolled full-time in Mt. San Antonio Community College’s engineering program, which is also part of his personal development plan at SmartWatt.

Both Jesus and Gabriel will serve in mentorship roles for future interns. California Conservation Corp Energy Corps interns are selected by SmartWatt based on a cover letter, resume, writing sample and formal interview process. Upon selection, they are enrolled in a formal training program at SmartWatt, designed to provide a broad context to the industry and SmartWatt’s role in it, in addition to hands-on training with engineering calculation tools, software modeling programs and technical writing.

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