For over 175 years Springfield was known as the “City of Homes” because of the number of jobs at the Springfield Armory that once employed 14,000 residents. But now, visitors coming up State St. see that original windows are being removed and replaced at STCC. The Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance DCAMM, is sending them to a toxic waste landfill in Ohio, like the hundreds of windows along the Federal St. side of the campus. Instead of paying local workers to restore them, they will be replaced by newly manufactured, high-cost windows. A worker will spend only half an hour to remove each of them and load them up, bound for Ohio. Another half-hour is all that a worker will be paid to install the new ones. The winners in this practice are window manufacturers far away, who are paid $3,000 or more for a visually similar window.
This is a lost opportunity. It is unnecessary. It is costly and all the money leaves Springfield. DCAMM routinely replaces wood building components based not on science, or on actual cost, but rather, the falsehood of energy savings and “maintenance-free windows.” In fact, building science documents that replacement windows have little if any return on investment and historic windows can be insulated and maintained for a fraction of the cost of new replacements.
Opportunity found: The Commonwealth could provide good jobs in preservation trades and the materials reuse industry. STCC could offer a 2-year apprenticeship program with academic credits where students are paid to learn craft-skills that will always be local and necessary (carpentry, wood restoration, glazing, painting and asbestos, lead and hazardous materials abatement). Entrepreneurial worker-owners can join cooperatives and become licensed contractors.
Opportunity found: Through apprenticeship, low-income students no longer have to quit school for an exhausting low-wage job or long distance commute. With “earn-while-you-learn” opportunities more women could enter the trades or start a business while staying in school. Women could job-share and child care-share because they’d be close to home. With more options for entry, some women may advance to building trade union apprenticeships.
Opportunity found: City and state officials often dismiss old buildings as big problems. In reality, these buildings are a vast resource with which to rebuild cities and increase our skilled workforce into the future.
Reusing materials and preserving buildings is an industry which is gaining momentum throughout the country, much like the organic foods market. The national Building Materials Reuse Association is a repository of how vast this industry has become in the U.S., Canada and Europe. To learn about job creation vs. demolition in cities across the country JOIN the BMRA at (bmra.org).