Step 3: Know Your Existing Workforce
Prior to launching a building energy efficiency program, conduct research to learn about energy professionals currently working in your area―specifically, how many there are and what types of work they are performing. This step will help you determine the types of recruitment, training, and certification activities you will need to build into your program's workforce development process.
Building on Success
When Better Buildings for Michigan launched its program, it used a list of authorized contractors established under a separate program to identify qualified energy professionals. This approach saved time in getting the program off the ground because the professionals were already established with credentials and customers.
Identify Local Energy Professionals
A first step in understanding the local workforce is to identify the certified energy professionals in your area. Search the online directories of the Building Performance Institute (BPI), the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), North American Technician Excellence, and the Laborers International Union of North America. Be sure to coordinate with other existing energy programs, including your state's weatherization assistance program and energy office, to gain a thorough understanding of the professionals who are active in your community.
Launching During a Lull
Because of its long history of operating energy efficiency programs, Austin Energy has a thorough understanding of the existing contractor workforce and has acquired key insights into local contractors' schedules and capacity. Austin's hot weather keeps contractors busy dealing with home cooling issues during the warm months of the year. Austin Energy purposely launched its Best Offer Ever program in fall 2010 to take advantage of contractor availability and provide additional work during what are otherwise slow contracting months―increasing the likelihood of jobs being completed in a timely manner, while also helping Austin-area contractors avoid seasonal layoffs. Learn more about how Austin's Clean Energy Accelerator program is working with contractors by reading the case study Let Your Contractor Be Your Guide for Big Rewards.
Energy professionals who are already operating can help you hit the ground running by performing initial evaluations and upgrades. They can also help spread the word through their own networks and sell your program's offerings to their current clients.
Recruit From Other Trades
Next, contact your local real estate and construction associations and local unions to get a better understanding of who might be unemployed or underemployed as a result of the current depressed housing market. This step will help you identify construction workers who can be easily retrained to perform energy upgrades, as well as recently trained weatherization professionals who are currently looking for more business. You can find contact information for your local associations through national portals such as:
- The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
- The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
- The National Association of REALTORS (NAR)
- The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Efficiency First
In addition, you might want to investigate trade associations to identify specific types of contractors (for example, HVAC contractors, represented by Air Conditioning Contractors of America) who can expand their range of services to include other energy efficiency improvements.