Fayette County, Pennsylvania, resident Geno Gallo started his green building business with ambitious goals. Unfortunately, the county's depressed economy forced him to scale them back. However, when he heard about a training program for underemployed and unemployed residents, Gallo realized the impact this opportunity could have on his future business.

Sponsored by the Private Industry Council under a subgrant through the Fayette County Better Buildings Initiative, the Pathways Out Of Poverty program helped Gallo develop building science skills to improve homes with energy efficiency upgrades. Gallo earned his Building Performance Institute Building Analyst and Envelope Professional certifications through the Private Industry Council program and began expanding his business model to incorporate the whole house training he learned. In addition, the Council helped him secure a grant to buy energy upgrade equipment.

As Fayette County's Better Buildings initiative began to create more demand for contractors, Gallo's new business, Fayette Energy Consultants, took off. One of the reasons for the program's success, Gallo notes, is that middle-income homeowners who wouldn't normally qualify for low-income weatherization benefits can still get energy upgrades at reduced costs.

With new business, Gallo has been able to employ skilled local residents to help him manage the office and complete upgrades. Because Fayette Energy Consultants is helping to improve the community, Gallo said, his employees feel like they own a piece of the company and are dedicated to helping it succeed. Whether they are helping lower energy costs at a commercial property, or insulating the home of fixed-income neighbor, they are proud to promote the benefits of efficiency.

"In this economy, for a business to start up and be growing, it's amazing," Gallo says. Even after the Fayette County Better Buildings initiative ends, Gallo plans to work with utility programs and expand into the new construction market using his training and certifications. Gallo is prepared to adapt his business to meet customer demand as the market evolves.