Southface’s IREC-accredited trainings and DOE’s Quality Work Plan

Recognizing the need for increased professionalism in the home energy upgrade industry, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently issued official guidance on its Quality Work Plan, which sets a benchmark for home energy upgrades and describes requirements to support and verify quality work in the DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The guidance defines quality installation of weatherization measures, outlines how those measures are inspected and validated and defines acceptable training and credentialing of workers.

Brad Turner, Southface Residential Green Building Services program manager, helps students master building science principles.

Brad Turner, Southface Residential Green Building Services program manager, helps students master building science principles.

One critical aspect of the Quality Work Plan is the requirement that every DOE WAP unit reported as a “completed unit” must receive a final inspection ensuring that all work meets the minimum specifications outlined in the Standard Work Specification (SWS) and that all quality control inspections must be conducted and signed off by a certified Home Energy Professional Quality Control Inspector who possesses the knowledge, skills and abilities in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Job Task Analysis for Quality Control Inspectors. This requirement becomes effective on April 1, 2015.

Another important requirement of the Quality Work Plan stipulates that beginning in Program Year 2014, Grantee Training Plans must include comprehensive training for all WAP workers administered by a training program that is accredited by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) for the Job Task Analysis being taught.

In July 2012, Southface became one of the first Weatherization Training Centers (WTC) in the country to earn IREC Accreditation for its Energy Auditor Training Program. In January 2014, Southface earned IREC Accreditation for the remaining three Home Energy Professional Training Programs: Quality Control Inspector, Retrofit Installer Technician and Crew Leader, making Southface one of only seven WTCs in the country to possess IREC Accreditation for all four of the Home Energy Professional designations.

Many states have already begun to take proactive steps to meet the requirements of the Quality Work Plan, specifically in regard to providing comprehensive training for WAP workers. Missouri recently contracted with Southface to provide Quality Control Inspector training to 45 of the state’s WAP professionals in three cities: Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis. Southface instructors Steve Herzlieb and John Kane traveled to Kansas City to deliver the first of three Home Energy Professional Quality Control Inspector trainings and received student reviews including “best BPI presentation I have attended” and simply “outstanding.” Southface instructors will travel to Springfield and St. Louis this spring to deliver the remaining trainings. Following the trainings, all participants who are approved by the Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI) to challenge the online and practical exams will do so, and, if successful, will obtain their Home Energy Professional Quality Control Inspector certifications.

These new training standards for WAP professionals will standardize the home energy upgrade industry and provide quality assurance for homeowners seeking energy-efficiency improvements.

To learn more about the IREC accredited Home Energy Professional courses offered at Southface, click here.

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