May 24, 2017 3:05 pm

How a corporate partner is helping YouthBuild Philly students become ‘green leaders’ in construction

Building materials company Saint-Gobain has been working with YouthBuild USA since 2010 to provide materials and hands-on job training for students working in YouthBuild Philly’s building trades track.

YouthBuild Philly students installing SageGlass in their classroom.

(Courtesy photo)

At the YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School, students are working toward their high school diplomas while simultaneously getting hands-on learning experience outside the classroom and exposure to career options.

But for some of the students involved in the building trades track, one of the four career tracks offered at the local YouthBuild school, they got to use and learn some new skills to improve their own classroom.

Through a partnership between YouthBuild Philadelphia and Saint-Gobain North America, a Malvern-based company that manufactures high-performance building materials, students worked with local contractor Eureka Metal & Glass Services to install a new glass technology called SageGlass into their classroom.

SageGlass, which is one of the technologies developed by Saint-Gobain and is currently installed at the Kimmel Center, helps to prevent glare and overheating, but the whole process of installing the tech is also meant to teach students at YouthBuild about green building.

The opportunity to learn about these kinds of materials, get hands-on experience in learning how to install them and get exposed to environmental building — this is all thanks to the corporate partnership YouthBuild USA has had with Saint-Gobain since 2010.

Meredith Molloy, development director at YouthBuild Philly, said the collaboration has also resulted in volunteers from Saint-Gobain coming out to work sites with students, who are all between 18 to 21 years old and former high school dropouts. As part of the building trades track at the school, students take part in revitalizing abandoned properties around the city, which then get sold to first-time, low-income families.

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The LEED-certified, green constructions methods used and taught by Saint-Gobain employees to students not only result in lower energy bills for the families living in the rehabilitated homes, but they also shows students that there are many different options available for those wanting to get into construction professionally.

“Providing opportunities for young people with either work experiences or work exposure is just so important to open up their possibilities and get them thinking in different ways,” Molloy said.

The partnership also offers mutual benefits for Saint-Gobain, according to Dina Silver Pokedoff, director of brand communication at the 352-year-old international company.

Through the projects that YouthBuild students work on with Saint-Gobain’s employees and its line of environmentally-friendly materials, the company is directly contributing to the pipeline of socially responsible contractors that Pokedoff said the industry needs right now.

“We know in the industry, our contractors need talent,” she said. “The building industry overall is in dire need of talent. We are training these individuals to be the next generation of green leaders.”


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