We are the first crew of the new Colorado Springs location of the Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC). Last July, we started working with the Energy Resource Center (ERC) here in Colorado Springs as Energy & Weatherization Interns. The ERC is a local non-profit organization that is part of a network of agencies for Colorado’s statewide weatherization program. Operated by the Governor’s Energy Office through programs such as LEAP, we provide full-scale insulation and furnace service at no cost to the client. The ERC services El Paso, Fremont, Teller, Douglas, and Elbert Counties. So far we’ve completed over 450 units this year – houses and mobile homes.
On any given day, depending on the house or mobile home, we do anywhere from a couple to all of these tasks. In basements and crawl spaces, we install perimeter, box sill, and floor insulation. We wrap water lines, duct work, water heaters, and furnaces. Under mobile homes, we do perimeter insulation as well as belly patch.
On the main levels, we put weather-stripping on doors, install low flow toilets and storm windows, and vent out dryers. We blow cellulose into side walls from the interior or the exterior, which involves working with drywall, stucco, and all types of siding. We patch, texture, and paint. To do all this, we drill, and drill, and drill, sometimes over 200 holes in a single house!
We also blow cellulose insulation into attics. This requires building fire blockings around flues and hatches, venting bathroom fans, blocking recess lights, and sealing open chase ways. On top of mobile homes, we cut large square holes across the roof and blow fiberglass insulation on top of the ceiling. This requires an extensive patching process using sheet metal, tar paper, blow torches, and final a coating of Roof Pro paint. The work is usually hard, almost always dirty, and requires masks, respirators, and full body Tyvek suits.
Every other Friday we meet here at MHYC’s office in Colorado Springs for the education portion of our program. We are well into a curriculum covering Energy and Environmental Education, as well as Healthy Living and Job Skills training. As part of this, we have also been able to go on some great field trips. We visited both Mueller and Cheyenne state parks and the Bear Creek Nature Center. We took a tour of the Ray D. Nixon coal-fired power plant, as well as the National Renewable Energy Lab and the EPA building in Denver. It provides us the opportunity to look at the big picture after spending most of the week in the nitty gritty.