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The Standard Work Specifications for Single-Family Home Energy Upgrades are now available…at your fingertips!



Wednesday, April 03, 2013
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are pleased to announce that the Standard Work Specifications for Single-Family Home Energy Upgrades are now available via a user-friendly online tool, with specifications for manufactured housing and multifamily homes to follow.

Standard work specifications (SWS) define the outcomes of quality work, setting uniform expectations that can be leveraged for energy audits, scopes of work, quality control efforts, and training.  This new tool developed by NREL enables utility administrators, weatherization program managers, training centers, home energy upgrade contractors, and weatherization workers to find, email, print, and save individual specifications to streamline their work.

The current tool is a beta version, with future versions to include a Spanish translation of the SWS, and expanded features such as an advanced search, application programming interface (API), and a how-to video.

And stay tuned for the national availability of the new Home Energy Professional Certifications, which are guided by the Standard Work Specifications for Single-Family Home Energy Upgrades

Explore the Standard Work Specifications online tool now!

Posted by: DOE at 4:03 PM
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Recap of the Orientation for New and Existing Weatherization State Directors & the 2013 NASCSP Mid-Winter Conference:



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Orientation:  Monday & Tuesday


The Mid-Winter Orientation plays a critical role in the success of not only the State administrators of WAP but of the network as a whole. These two days provide comprehensive information that is unparalleled and the opportunity for members to network with colleagues and get answers to their most pressing questions.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) staff leads the WAP Orientation. Attendees heard how the program operates and their responsibilities as WAP State administrators. DOE staff began with an overview of the legislative and statutory elements of WAP, while providing updates on changes (and predictions/expectations of changes) that will occur in 2013. Network partners like Joel Eisenberg, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, explained how WAP has the highest impact for users with a high-energy burden. In addition, this year Cynthia Simonson, of Simonson Management Services (SMS), kept things lively by rewarding trivia winners with Girl Scout cookies during their discussion of monitoring and state plans. Kelly Cutchin, also of SMS, reviewed how to write technical guides and manuals as well as health and safety guidance to ensure success for each and every home weatherized.

Orientation continued on Tuesday with presenters speaking about program management; regulatory items, such as the OMB Circulars; and monitoring. The highlight of the day was the demonstrations of WAP’s new initiatives and online resources. DOE even got in on the action and presented WAP Orientation with an open source online training program through the National Weatherization Training Platform. In addition, NASCSP’s Jenae Bjelland, Director of the Healthy Homes Initiative, gave attendees an overview of how the initiative ties in with the work they’re already doing and showcased the training and technical assistance online tools and resources via www.WxPlusHealth.org.

NASCSP Mid-Winter Conference:

 

Wednesday:
During the WAP committee meeting, Bob Scott, Director of Energy Services at NASCSP, gave out Weatherization Day awards to States who held events or got Governor’s Proclamations, recognizing the efforts of our members. WAP members also got a legislative update on pertinent issues like sequestration, fiscal year 2014 funding, and the political picture here in Washington DC. There was also time to collect questions and concerns to share with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and with the network. These questions are critical and will likely lead to some productive discussions during Thursday’s Federal Perspective sessions.

In addition to the committee meetings, Jenae Bjelland, Director of the Healthy Homes Initiative at NASCSP, held a general session about the Weatherization Plus Health initiative and shared the features available at the WxPlusHealth.org website and demoed the new Weatherization Plus Health Mobile App, which walks technicians through health and safety issues commonly seen in low-income homes. The app should be downloadable in the near future. Lynette Praster, from Pennsylvania, walked State directors through how they decided to start a Weatherization Plus Health approach in her State and the process through which they have integrated services across programs.

Thursday:
This year, the WAP track started off with a new format—regional roundtable discussions. Attendees discussed common issues and potential resources, as well as questions to ask our federal DOE partners later in the day. A session on work quality focused on new DOE initiatives in addition to veteran WAP Director Cal Steiner’s effort to move the workforce forward and ensure a superior product. The afternoon included a discussion with DOE staff. NASCSP members followed up on the questions generated from the morning’s roundtables and received an update on changes and innovations that are coming.

Friday:
The focus in the morning session was on looking at the WAP in a new funding era and pursuing leveraging partnerships. Federal partners from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were on hand to discuss the give and take between WAP and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) while members discussed their strategies for dealing with a changing fiscal landscape and efforts to ensure WAP remains relevant. NASCSP Weatherization Plus Health Consultant, Lisa Kesecker, introduced the soon to be available Income Generation and Leveraging Manual, which will provide a guide to grantees in finding new funding sources, securing partnerships, and moving us forward. Stay tuned – we will let you know when the new manual is available.


Posted by: Alice Gaston at 9:29 AM
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BPI’s New Building Science Principles Certificate of Knowledge Available



Wednesday, January 09, 2013
BPI launched its eagerly anticipated BSP Certificate online exam and companion Reference Guide last month for professionals who need to know how homes work but don’t need the hands-on technical skills required of BPI certified professionals. Passing the 100-question online exam verifies a basic knowledge of building science. The Reference Guide helps prepare candidates to understand how various systems of the home interact to maximize energy efficiency and protect occupant comfort, health and safety. The BSP certificate requires no hands on training, and is not a BPI Professional Certification. Learn more and register for the exam at www.bpi.org/certificate.

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 2:11 PM
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Weatherization Plus Health Training in 2013



Friday, December 14, 2012
The Weatherization (Wx) Plus Health initiative improves the health, safety, and energy efficiency of homes for low-income families through the coordination of services and programs within communities. The Department of Energy (DOE) and National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) invite you to find out more about this innovative initiative and ways for you to get involved at the Wx Plus Health Trainings.
 
AGENDA WILL FEATURE:
  • Overview of Wx Plus Health
  • How State & local agencies can get involved and enhance services
  • Funding opportunities available for Wx Plus Health initiatives
  • Preview of the future Wx Plus Health website
  • Best practices to address barriers, develop solutions, and implement Wx Plus Health
 
WHO SHOULD ATTEND:
  • CAA Executive Directors, Planning Staff, and Board Members
  • State and Local Wx Staff
  • State and Local CSBG Staff
  • State CAA Associations
  • Lead, Asthma, and Pest Management Staff
  • Healthy Homes Providers

Wx Plus Health Regional Trainings will take place next year in:   
       
Kansas City, MO l March 12-14, 2013
Columbus, OH l April 22-24, 2013
Portland, ME l May 7-9, 2013 
Bozeman, MT l July 16-18, 2013


Posted by: Alice Gaston at 12:07 PM
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New Jersey’s BCCAP Expands Training at Weatherization and New Green Technology Training Center



Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Bergen County Community Action Partnership (BCCAP) celebrated the opening of a $1 million Weatherization and Green Technology Training Center in Garfield, New Jersey, on October 4. State and county legislators and representatives from federal, state, county, and municipal governments joined students, family members, and staff at the grand opening.

During the ceremony, 80 students from a U.S. Department of Energy-funded weatherization training program were honored for their achievement. Expanding on its 20 years of experience in vocational training, BCCAP has conducted weatherization training for the past two years and looks forward to continuing its efforts in this labor-demand field.

“Our students feel our training has helped them get their lives in order and gain the skills they need to get jobs. Now that they are working, they are so grateful. Our training program brings many positive changes to the community,” says Figen Tabakci, Director of Education and Training for BCCAP.

BCCAP converted a warehouse into the new weatherization-specific training facility that now includes a diagnostic house equipped with working boilers, furnaces, and hot water heaters. Practice labs and classrooms with the latest computer technology are also available to students. A $1 million grant provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program paved the way for the building improvements. The County of Bergen, through the Bergen County Improvement Authority, played an important role by authorizing tax-exempt bond financing for the construction.

“Our students have been energized by the new facility because it makes a difference in how we can teach weatherization. They are very proud of it,” says Ms. Tabakci.

BCCAP offers a full spectrum of adult training programs in its state-licensed vocational training school, complemented by English as a second language classes and a New Americans Program. BCCAP has been a leader in the community for 45 years, responding to residents’ needs and creating programs that encompass energy efficiency and sustainability, financial literacy, sponsorship of a federal credit union, special needs housing, and real estate development.

Posted by: DOE at 11:39 AM
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Energy Out West



Monday, April 30, 2012
The Energy Out West conference is held every other year and began in 1996 when a group of people doing weatherization work in the Northwest thought they could help each other do it better. The current president of Energy Out West (EOW) is Mimi Burbage, who should be familiar to readers of Home Energy and anyone in weatherization. Mimi brings that independent, Alaska, straight talk style to whatever she does, from heading the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to her work for EOW. This year the conference is in Boise, Idaho, which some people call the Northern Austin and I can see their point. It’s not just about potatoes around here. Good food, good music, and great public art are in abundance.

The core conference began this morning, after coffee and scones, with some introductions and welcome by Carol Gates, from DOE’s Golden Field Office. Carol recounted some of the successes of the last few years and WAP’s part in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. Here are some brag facts: 

• More than 700,000 homes weatherized that will save $6.6 billion over the life of the measures; or $350 million each year.
• WAP ARRA efforts created the third highest job numbers, at 13,230 as of the 4th quarter of 2011.
• 377 MBtu of energy saved over the life of the measures; or 19 million MBtu per year.

The keynote speaker was Chris Gardner, the real life version of the man the actor Will Smith played in the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness.” He is funny, wise, original, and very memorable. He does a much better job of being himself than Will Smith did. He somehow integrates a very healthy positive self regard, honesty, compassion, and deep humility. Unique and inspirational.

It was a full day and I didn’t come close to taking in everything that was offered. Sue White of American Indian Professional Services, Inc., as she has done for years, talked about the financial side of running a weatherization agency. (She recieved the EOW President's award—see photo.) Thomas Brunet of California American Water put the fear-of-drought in all his listeners. He highlighted Monterey, California for using half as much water as they used only several years ago, through the outreach he did to encourage conservation, and by the city implementing a tiered payment system. The city uses about 2.5 kWh to move a unit of water from the source to the user. Compare that to LA, which uses almost 7 kWh to move the same unit of water. Then Bob Scott of the National Association of State Community Services Providers (NASCSP) depressed us, but not too much, by recounting how poorly the WAP program is being treated by the current dysfunctional Congress. He announced free beer at the reception after his talk, provided by Saturn Resources Management, and promised more hope for tomorrow.

For the original post on homeenergy.org, please click here.

Posted by: Jim Gunshinan at 9:31 AM
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DOE Backs Four New Professional Certifications



Monday, April 16, 2012
Four new weatherization and home energy professional certifications will be introduced in June by the Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI). These voluntary certifications cover the most common job classifications in the weatherization and home energy upgrade industry: energy auditor, retrofit installer, crew leader, and quality control inspector.

BPI will pilot written and field practical exams in June. Registration for these exams is now open online at www.bpi.org/pilot. Scheduling of pilot exams will begin in May. Eight hundred people are sought for the initial testing.

The results of the pilot test cycle will be used to set passing scores for the national exams. Candidates who take the initial exams and meet passing requirements will be among the first group of professionals to earn these certifications. In the fall, BPI expects to give the exams across the country.

"The emphasis is on field experience—being able to demonstrate practical ability to do the job. It's not about taking a class and taking a test. It's a demonstration of experience and the quality of work," says Josh Olsen, policy adviser for the Weatherization Assistance Program, U.S. Department of Energy.

The new credentials will meet the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) 17024 standard, which is the international benchmark for personnel certifications across all industries. Under ISO 17024, each new certification is developed and administered using international best practices, such as cross-disciplinary peer review and industry validation of technical materials.

The U.S. Department of Energy and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory developed the framework for these certifications in partnership with the Weatherization Assistance Program. They will not replace or interfere with professional certifications in the building trades. They are intended to support the four most common whole-house home performance job roles.

Posted by: Sam Daugherty at 11:57 AM
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Weatherization Degree at Montana State University



Tuesday, March 06, 2012
The Montana Board of Regents has approved the offering of the Montana Weatherization Training Center's one-year degree, noted as the "Certificate of Applied Science in Residential Building Performance."  

The 33 credit degree is comprised of DOE Weatherization Standardized Curriculum courses, on-line courses as well as optional/elective credits for internships and special emphasis content dealing with weatherization.   While the degree will be offered by Montana State University (taught at the MT Wx Training Center), for national student access, IREC accredited and partner (with MSU and the MT Wx Training Center) Weatherization Training Centers throughout the United States will also be able to offer core degree courses and internship credit to students at their center. 

The degree is anticipated to be offered in the fall of 2012.

For more information, visit the Montana Weatherization Training Center website at http://www.weatherization.org/

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 9:53 AM
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Saving Time, Money and Energy with HVAC



Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Do you sweat in the summer and freeze in the winter just to keep costs down? If so you need to understand that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Having a professionally installed HVAC system is something you need to seriously consider because your home, your business, or even your warehouse should never be at the mercy of the elements, not to mention your family or your staff.

There are easy solutions to both your heating and cooling needs and they can all be rolled into one easy installation. Having an HVAC system installed in your home or business will not only save you discomfort but it will also save you time AND money.

Sound too good to be true? Let me assure you, it isn’t.

A proper HVAC system, one specifically designed for you individual needs is the fastest and easiest way that you can cut costs and ensure efficiency because they are designed for you. Imagine a retail outlet with a continually opening door trying desperately to keep up with that constant influx of outdoor temperature in the middle of July in the desert or the same scenario at a restaurant in January in the middle of the Midwest. It isn’t efficient and it’s literally hemorrhaging money out of your pocket with every person opening that door. It simply doesn’t work.

Economically, we need to tighten our belts and many people don’t think to recognize the biggest waste in their monthly expenses and that outdated or inefficient heating or cooling systems are an unnecessary drain on your financial resources.

Not only does a professional installation afford you a warranty, but it will also insure that your technician has gone through the proper (and rigorous) HVAC training that enables them to both install and service your system. Their HVAC training will also give YOU the benefit of someone who can look at your individual needs, evaluate cost versus efficiency, and then come up with a plan that will benefit your home or business.

Doing it right the first time will save you time and money so don’t drop the ball when it comes to comfort. Look into your options and know that finding a proper system for your needs is worth the effort and will give you the return of comfort and savings for years to come.

Article contributed by Philip J Reed, in affiliation with Redstone College.

Posted by: Philip J Reed at 11:54 AM
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Louisiana Training the Next Generation of Weatherization Workers



Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) invested $5 billion in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) to promote energy efficiency, train workers for the burgeoning green economy, and help low-income families reduce their energy bills during a difficult economic time. The Louisiana Association of Community Action Partnerships (LACAP) embraced the opportunity the influx of federal funds provided to enhance their own workforce with a new Baton Rouge Weatherization Training Center. Now fully operational, the training center provides workers with valuable skills in weatherizing homes.

The Recovery Act gave the WAP an unprecedented chance to expand the depth and breadth of an already successful, 30-year-old program. Charged by the DOE and the Obama administration to weatherize 650,000 low-income American homes by March 2012, state offices around the country sought new workers and contractors to meet this challenge. Many people think of replacing windows and doors and maybe a little weather-stripping when they think of weatherization; weatherization in the WAP, however, far exceeds those simple measures. Technicians must learn a comprehensive, house-as-a-system approach coupled with the latest in building diagnostics to meet DOE standards and regulations. Recipients of weatherization services receive the highest quality work in the energy efficiency retrofit industry.

LACAP, an organization comprised of forty-two community action agencies operating in all sixty-four parishes in Louisiana, established a training center in Baton Rouge to meet the administration’s challenge as well as to train the next generation of weatherization workers. Located in an industrial warehouse, the new LACAP training center opened in July 2009. The site boasts 11,000 square feet of classrooms, hands-on props, demonstration houses, and a full-size training mobile home. By combining classroom instruction with real-world demonstrations, weatherization workers better learn and understand the fundamentals before they are sent out into the field.

“I don’t see how you could weatherize a home without training,” Ray Sharkey, owner of Public Construction, said. Mr. Sharkey added weatherization to his home repair business’s portfolio after demand for workers increased. Despite the significant dip in the housing industry during the Great Recession, the move into weatherization allowed Public Construction to retain their twelve staff members and put some of them through the weatherization programs at the Baton Rouge center.

“I was really impressed with the training center,” Mr. Sharkey added, noting that after several trips to the Baton Rouge site he and his staff “had learned something new to take back with them into the field.” Now Mr. Sharkey uses his weatherization training not just on the federally funded, DOE homes but also on private HVAC contracts as well. He hopes to enter the growing middle-income market for weatherization services in the future with his trained workforce.

To date, the LACAP training center has taught over 110 classes to more than 350 community action agency staff and weatherization contractors such as Mr. Sharkey. The more than 15,000 hours of instruction has certainly contributed to the 2,761 homes weatherized in Louisiana through February 2011.

Contributing to those production numbers is Jeremy Robinson of Tangi Energy Conservation. Laid off as a result of the 2009 recession, Mr. Robinson heard about weatherization from a friend working at Tangi. Today, Mr. Robinson owns Tangi Energy Conservation and weatherizes eight to ten homes a month with his crews for the State of Louisiana. The WAP was such a boon to his business that he had the opportunity to hire three more workers to keep up with demand, a number of whom trained at LACAP’s Baton Rogue center.

“WAP has been a tremendous asset as far as I’m concerned,” Mr. Robinson said. “It helped me get a job, and I help homeowners have a more energy efficient, comfortable home.”

Other training centers like the LACAP’s in Louisiana have been established throughout the United States with Recovery Act funding. To date, more than thirty-five centers exist across the nation in diverse climactic and housing stock areas such as Maine, Florida, Indiana, and Montana. Each employs the high technical standards established by the DOE under their standardized curricula, coupled with local standards and techniques specific to each state’s region. The creation of these training centers has laid the foundation for a solid, well-trained workforce in green, living-wage jobs.

As the cases of Mr. Sharkey and Mr. Robinson demonstrate, a well-trained workforce helps not only the low-income people served by the WAP, but also the small business owners and workers who can use the training to enter the growing energy efficiency retrofit market. This is a win-win for all: It creates jobs, reduces America’s carbon footprint, and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.

To see other Recovery Act funded Weatherization Training Centers, please click here.

Posted by: Alice Gaston at 10:50 AM
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