IREC Offers Solar Hot Water Systems Training for Local Code Officials

With a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), IREC was able to respond to mounting requests for local code official training on SDHW systems. Code and building officials are key players in inspecting and approving solar thermal systems. Currently, many are not familiar with solar thermal energy technologies, and their lack of understanding could result in systems not being approved or shut down.

IREC contracted with Mark Thornbloom, formerly a senior engineer with the Florida Solar Energy Center, to review all relevant codes and standards and put together a comprehensive presentation on domestic hot water systems for local code officials.

Thornbloom is also conducting the training workshops. Under the current grant, four workshops will be held around the country this spring. IREC’s Dick Michaud is coordinating the workshop series.

The four-hour workshop provides a comprehensive overview of both indoor and outdoor inspections of domestic solar hot water heating systems. Other topics covered include the role of the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC), SDHW designs like thermosyphon, integral collector storage, PV pumped, antifreeze and drainback, direct and indirect systems. Mounting and anchoring equipment, valves, insulation, sensors and wiring, pipe penetrations and flashing, plumbing, materials, tanks, valves and pumps and start-up are addressed as well. In addition, Thornbloom will cover the international building, mechanical, plumbing, energy conservation codes as they apply to SDHW.

The NY State Division of Codes and Standards reviewed Thornbloom’s presentation materials and determined that they would award 4 CEU’s to any NY registered local building and code officials taking the four-hour class.

All of the attendees at the February 25th workshop held at the VFD in Woodbourne, NY were code or building officials who came to learn about solar thermal technologies. “It’s important that our NYS code officials and building inspectors have the educational resources to do their job well,” said Michael Burnetter, Senior Engineer, Energy Services Unit, NYS Dept. of State, Division of Code Enforcement and Administration.

Michaud was quick to praise Burnetter’s support. “Michael was the one who moved quickly to suggest to the Tri-County Chapter of the NYS Building Officials Conference (NYSBOC) that they host one of the SDHW training sessions, while his office reviewed and subsequently approved Thornbloom’s presentation for four continuing education credits,” said Michaud.

In addition, NYSERDA’s Vicki Colello funded the workbooks for this workshop, a cost which would have otherwise been paid for by the New York attendees.

Both Michaud and Burnetter were impressed with the turnout. “Despite the snowstorms, we had 135 show up from three counties,” said Michaud.

“We’ve got 5,000 building inspectors in NYS,” said Burnetter, “all of whom need to comply with CEU requirements annually. That we had such a large number of workshop attendees, more than double the number that usually show up for CEU- credit workshops, and in February of all things, tells me there was lots of enthusiasm and interest for the topic.”

Other cities under consideration for SDHW workshops included Phoenix, San Diego, Boston, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Santa Rosa and San Francisco. San Diego is scheduled for April 27th and Phoenix is scheduled for April 29th. Other host cities and dates have yet to be finalized.

Michaud said that DOE approached IREC to offer this training to its Solar America Cities. To date, about 10 of the 25 cities have expressed interest in hosting the training. Some utilities have also expressed interest in the training.

For more information about this workshop series, contact Richard Michaud at 617.262.2567.


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