Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and the Essex County Vocational Technical School Board welcomed representatives from the Essex County Building Trades Council to Essex County Vocational Technical School's Bloomfield Tech campus on Friday, June 4th to thank the union workers for helping to build a mock house at the school. The miniature model is being used to display energy efficiency home construction to the students in the Carpentry Program and Green Energy Academy.

"These professional masons, roofers and carpenters constructed a mock house to help our high school students learn about building construction and energy efficiency. This is a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn about emerging construction trends while they prepare for future careers," DiVincenzo said. "I am grateful that these professionals donated their time and energy to assist in the education of our Vocational Technical students," he added.

"The students coming to our Vocational Schools have such great opportunities and this model is an example the cutting edge education offered here," Assemblyman and Freeholder Vice President Ralph Caputo said. "This model is amazing. The lessons they will learn from it will give them an advantage when they enter the workforce," he added.

"We've had a partnership with the vocational schools for a long time," Essex County Building Trades Council President Marty Schwartz said. "The idea was to show the students new technologies, such as insulation and Green Energy, and to let them watch while the carpenters did the framing and the bricklayers laid the bricks," he noted.

Bloomfield Tech received assistance from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 4 of New Jersey, the Roofers Damp and Waterproof Workers Association Local 4 of West Orange and Essex County Carpenters Local 1342 in Montclair.

Essex County Vocational Technical School District Superintendent Dr. Michael A. Pennella said the union members provided a state-of-the-art learning opportunity for the Bloomfield Tech students. "Through this project, our students can learn firsthand different technologies for energy efficiency that include solar panels, non-allergen insulation, flooring from a sustainable forest and shingles that reflect, rather than absorb light. This is an amazing opportunity for our students to work directly with emerging technologies while in high school," he said.

"It is through partnerships like these that enables us to move our curriculum forward and prepare our students for the changing job market. This is a great accomplishment and will greatly benefit our students," Principal Eric Love said.

Starting in the winter, representatives from various unions in the Building Trades Council volunteered their time to build the mock house, which measures 16 feet by eight feet. The house has features of a real house on a smaller scale, including a concrete foundation, wooden framing, systems for electrical wiring and HVAC, and roof shingles. In addition, the house has several special features to show students emerging trends in energy efficiency and environmentally-friendly construction.

"Even though this model may look unfinished, it is designed so students can see what it means to include green energy elements into a house. This will be an incredible learning tool for our students," Green Energy Academy Teacher Todd Menadier said. "A lot of departments were involved in this project: our carpentry, HVAC, electrical engineering and Green Energy. This is an example of the symbiotic relationship that exists between our classrooms and how it brings the school together. And working with the Building Trade Unions is important because that is where we want our students to get jobs when they graduate," he noted.

"We are trying to display energy-efficient methods for our houses. This house features environmentally-friendly materials. It's a little more energy efficient and sustainable. This is the technology of the future and students need to be aware of it," said Alf Bertelsen, Carpentry Teacher at Bloomfield Tech.

Though the school year is drawing to a close, next year's Bloomfield Tech students will continue to learn by doing hands-on lessons with the mock house. Bertelsen said they will install wiring in house, learn to use the solar panel and solar tubing features, and understand the eco-friendly materials in the house - including the bamboo flooring from a managed forest and the cotton-based non-allergen insulation.

Bloomfield Tech is a national Blue-Ribbon school and one of four high schools in the Essex County Vocational Technical School District. Among its academic and career-preparatory programs is its Green Energy Academy, which was started in partnership with PSE&G.

The Essex County Vocational Technical School District is one of New Jersey's oldest and largest Vocational Technical School Systems. Created in 1914, the school system provides both technical education and academic instruction for high school and adult students in the Essex County region. The district has four high schools: Bloomfield Tech, Newark Tech, North 13th Street Tech and West Caldwell Tech. In addition, the system provides adult programs in the evening at Newark Tech, and during the day at its Adult Training Center at 50 South Clinton Street in East Orange. The district has an enrollment of about 2,200 students and provides high level state-of-the-art occupational skill development and academic opportunities in over 25 career areas.

For more information on Essex County's Vocational Technical Schools, call 973-412-2063 or visit www.essextech.org