Community college program helps the unemployed, the environment, and a local business

May 14th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Story

Nine unemployed individuals are ready to begin a new “green” job skills program offered through Gateway Community College’s Center for a Sustainable Future (CSF) that will not only train them how to carefully deconstruct buildings and reuse materials, but also lead to jobs with the a Hamden company that is a partner with the project.

The 12-week Deconstruction and Materials Reuse Program will start May 18. It will also be the focus of a workshop held May 16 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at William L Harkness Hall, 100 Wall St., New Haven, as part of the Building Materials Reuse Association’s national Decon ’11 conference, which is being held May 16-19 at locations throughout New Haven.

Applicants to the Deconstruction and Materials Reuse program were required to be unemployed. Following the skills course, which will take place at the M.L. Keefe Center in the Newhall/Highwood community in Hamden, graduates will be employed by program partner Urbanminers LLC to deconstruct several homes in Hamden, under a contract with the Hamden Economic Development Corp. (HEDC).

Joseph DeRisi, owner of Urbanminers, which has emerged as a leading new local company in the field of deconstruction, designed and will teach the new course

The relatively new trade of deconstruction and materials reuse replaces demolition with careful dismantling of both the exterior and interior of buildings, said CSF Director Dr. David N, Cooper. “There is a great market for antique and old-style bathtubs and sinks, all kinds of plumbing, lighting, and other household fixtures, old window and door frames, flooring, and other building parts,” Cooper said. “Many construction materials, such as lumber and bricks, can be reclaimed and re-used.”

The HEDC, Hamden Town Council Majority Leader Kath Schomaker, and the Workforce Alliance, were instrumental in developing  and funding the program. Federal grants through the Workforce Alliance for the deconstruction of several homes built on contaminated soil in the Newhall community in Hamden, which is part of the remediation of the former Olin-Winchester plant area, helped make this project possible.

“Unlike the field of construction, deconstruction uses its own specialized tools and techniques, requiring an understanding of toxins and remediation, workplace safety, regulations governing deconstruction, and business marketing skills on how to market and deploy recovered construction materials,” said DeRisi, Urbanminers’ owner, who holds a masters’ degree in environmental science and has many years of experience working with local government and environmental groups in land and water reclamation.

This first class will concentrate on teaching basic deconstruction concepts and skills. Other areas of expertise needed by practitioners in the field include logistics, business management, warehousing, and manufacturing new products from the deconstruction process, DeRisi said.

Although the current participants will not be trained in the highly specialized field of brownfield remediation, they will need to gain a basic understanding of the topic and how to handle materials given that land under many homes and other buildings set for deconstruction may have been contaminated by toxins and require remediation.

“This is truly ‘green’ job training,” said HEDC Executive Director Dale Kroop, who first envisioned the program, while also noting that it promotes the growth of a new local “green” company.

GCC’s Center for a Sustainable Future offers education and training programs to prepare the “green” workforce of the future. It includes a variety of certificate programs, ranging from solar energy to clean water to sustainable building advisors and alternative energy transportation.

To learn more about the Deconstruction and Materials Reuse Program or to get onto the waiting list for the next class, contact Dale Kroop the Hamden Economic Development Corp. at 203-287-7033 or

GCC offers more than 85 associate degree and certificate programs and serves more than 11,000 credit and non-credit students each year. GCC is one of the state’s fastest growing community colleges. It is currently located on two campuses — at 60 Sargent Drive on Long Wharf in New Haven and at 88 Bassett Road in North Haven. Its new state-of-the art campus in downtown New Haven is slated to open in 2012 and is designed to be the state’s first public building gold-certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

GCC serves students in 24 towns and cities in the greater New Haven area, including: Ansonia, Bethany, Branford, Bridgeport, Cheshire, Clinton, Derby, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middletown, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Seymour, Shelton, Stratford, Wallingford, West Haven and Woodbridge. For more information, visit

There is a wide array of green programs offered at Connecticut;s 12  Community Colleges, including


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