Step 5: Ensure That Your Workforce Is Trained, Certified, and Equipped
Key Federal Resources and References
DOE Guidelines for Energy Upgrade Professionals. These guidelines include standard specifications for quality work. They can be referenced as a source for identifying an acceptable level of quality in home energy upgrade work.
DOE Guidelines for Effective Training identify critical tasks and core competencies for effective training programs, which are aligned with industry job task analyses for four energy upgrade job classifications. The job task analyses are available for use by training programs and other interested parties. In early 2012, training centers will be able to apply for accreditation by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), based on an international standard.
Contractor Sales Training: Providing the Skills Necessary to Sell Comprehensive Home Energy Upgrades. This Clean Energy Policy Brief by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory highlights innovative approaches to delivering energy efficiency.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades provide recommended minimum specifications and additional best practices for protection of occupant health associated with home energy upgrades. The protocols are intended to enhance the ability of other federal agencies, industry standard organizations, state and local programs, and the home energy upgrade industry to better integrate health protections into energy-focused programs. By following these protocols, home energy efficiency can be increased, the quality of the work performed improved, and failures and call-backs for contractors reduced.
All members of a building energy efficiency workforce will require some training, whether it is continuing technical education for existing energy professionals, training for newcomers to the industry, or training on program features and incentives.
Training imparts knowledge and skills needed to conduct energy efficiency upgrades and to be an active partner in a local energy upgrade program, while certification verifies that individuals have mastered the knowledge and skills required to successfully implement energy efficiency upgrades. Most certification programs require continuing education to ensure that professionals maintain their skills.
Understanding your existing workforce and your program goals will allow you to identify what training, certification, and continuing education offerings need to be available and who might be available to deliver these courses to the local workforce.
Ensure That Workers Have Appropriate Training and Certification
Your workforce should be trained to understand and implement the basic program elements, skills, and tools involved in energy efficiency upgrade work. Regardless of who delivers the training, it should include the following elements.
- Program goals and expectations. Describe the purpose of the program and what it expects to achieve. Be sure to mention the metrics (e.g., number of homes upgraded, kWh saved per year) that will be used to measure the program's progress toward its goals and what will be required of energy professionals who participate.
- Energy and building science. Describe the purpose of the program and what it expects to achieve. Be sure to mention the metrics (e.g., number of homes upgraded, kWh saved per year) that will be used to measure the program's progress toward its goals and what will be required of energy professionals who participate.
- Energy and building science. Educate energy professionals on building science concepts, which describe the interactions among occupants, building systems and components, and the outside environment while focusing on the flow of heat, air, and moisture relative to the home
- Quality standards, health and safety. Provide training on software tools that energy experts can use to analyze the expected energy performance of a home. Training programs aimed at preparing energy professionals for certification often include energy analysis software training
- Energy analysis software. Provide training on software tools that energy experts can use to analyze the expected energy performance of a home. Training programs aimed at preparing energy professionals for certification often include energy analysis software training.
- Sales and marketing. Educate energy professionals on how to identify the most likely candidates for home energy upgrades, and brief them on how to make and close the sale. Sales training sessions that include role plays tend to be the most effective. Also consider sharing program marketing materials with your energy professional partners, and make sure they know how to access logos and other materials that they are allowed to co-brand.
- Financing and incentives. Make sure energy professionals understand the rebates and other incentives available under the program and under what conditions they or their customers will qualify. Additionally, if your program has a financing component, be sure to train your energy professional partners on how to explain the loan offerings and how to facilitate the transaction for customers.
- Diagnostic tools. Train energy experts on how to properly set up, use, and understand the results from energy efficiency diagnostic equipment and software tools. Such equipment will enable them to determine the most effective energy improvements for a specific home and to verify that the upgrades were installed properly. The proper use of diagnostic tools and equipment is also critical to ensuring the health and safety of professionals conducting the work and those living in the home.
Sales Skills and Techniques
To learn to close sales more efficiently, energy professionals participating in the Efficiency Maine program are encouraged to enhance their sales techniques and customer service skills using the Dale Carnegie method. Efficiency Maine is offering the training, and so far, nearly 100 contractors have taken advantage of the opportunity.