LOS ANGELES, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilmember Herb Wesson attended today the unveiling of the first building – the Vineyard Recreation Center – to be retrofitted by workers trained through the Green Retrofit Workforce Program. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the first-in-the nation, workforce development retrofit program targets workers from low-income communities and trains them with the skills they need to obtain good-paying, green jobs.

“The Green Retrofit Workforce Program is a national model for how to build a specialized, highly-trained workforce that can retrofit municipal buildings to drastically reduce our City’s carbon footprint,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “After all, electricity use within buildings accounts for almost one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions — emitting almost 17 million tons of greenhouse gas a year into the air we breathe.”

Unanimously approved by the Los Angeles City Council in 2009, the program will retrofit 130 city buildings, including City Hall.

“I am honored that the first building chosen to take part in this landmark program is in my district,” Councilmember Wesson said. “Today’s outpouring of support from community and environmental leaders validates why I supported this ordinance from the beginning.”

The program trains workers in energy efficiency, water conservation, and green technologies while educating them about the benefits of sustainable building and maintenance practices.

The first priority for green upgrades will be libraries, community recreation and senior centers, such as the multi-purpose Vineyard Recreation Center which serves youth and senior citizens, as well as local fire and police stations.

This is the latest workforce development program funded by ARRA and administered by the City. Los Angeles has ten other programs that train Angelenos and put them to work in areas such as transportation, housing, and summer youth employment.

Today’s announcement is another step in Los Angeles’ efforts to become an environmentally-friendly, green city. In January, Mayor Villaraigosa announced that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had quadrupled its use of energy from renewable sources. This increase to 20% renewable power in six years is the most dramatic improvement among major utilities in the State of California. Los Angeles also recycles more than any other big city in the country, and has the largest LED Street Light Retrofit Program in the world that will replace 140,000 streets lights to LED in 5 years.