Leigh Varley contributed to this article.
Jack Wynn enrolled in the Marine Corps three weeks after watching the twin towers fall on 9/11. He was 18 years old and had graduated from high school just three months before. I spoke with Jack during his lunch break at the Southface SWEET Center on his third day of Southface’s Home Energy Rating System training. Nine years after completing his military service, Jack is using his veteran education benefits to get the training he needs to start his own home energy improvement business.
During his four years in the military, Jack served in the United States Marine Corps 1st Force Reconnaissance Company. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California where he worked as a parachute rigger – packing, repairing and jumping parachutes. In 2004, Jack was deployed to Iraq where he served on active duty in the Battle of Najaf and the Battle of Fallujah.
After returning from a physically and mentally tolling deployment, Jack decided to leave the service. He eventually returned to work for the Marine Corps as a civilian in their parachute program on weekdays, while working as a skydiving instructor on the weekends. Jack and his wife settled in Valdosta, Georgia and last spring, they bought their first home together. They loved everything about their new home – except for their utility bills, which were running around $230 each month. Jack did some research to see what they could do to lower their energy bills. Soon he had air sealed his home, upgraded his HVAC system, added insulation and replaced all of his light bulbs with LEDs. Now Jack’s utility bills cost him about $70 per month.
Impressed by the dramatic difference in his utility bills, Jack was inspired to start a home energy improvement business to help other homeowners make similar changes. He began researching the training and certifications he would need in order to start his own business, and soon he enrolled in the BPI Building Analyst class at Southface with his wife, who is also his business partner. Following the BPI course, Jack took Southface’s ASHRAE course and he is currently enrolled in the Home Energy Rating System training.
As soon as Jack completes his Home Energy Rating System certification, he and his wife will begin helping others make home energy improvements through their new business, Southern Home Energy Solutions. Services will include initial evaluation, blower door and duct blaster testing, lighting renovations, air sealing and other minor renovations. Jack’s focus is on simple changes that have a big impact and a short payback period.
Jack was one of the first students to take advantage of Southface’s veteran education benefit program, which was established in 2014. The program gives students who have served in the military, who are currently on active duty, or are dependents of a disabled or deceased veteran the opportunity to take courses at Southface that are funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs. “The process was seamless,” said Jack. “I found the courses online, sent a few emails and my veteran education benefits were accepted by Southface. I don’t have to deal with the payments or anything.”
Southface is proud to provide green building training to veterans transitioning into a career in energy efficiency.