IREC Coordinates Solar Hot Water Systems Nationwide Training for Local Code Officials

With a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), IREC has been responding to mounting requests from local code officials for training on solar domestic hot water (SDHW) systems. Code and building officials are key players in inspecting and approving solar thermal systems. Their understanding of the technology and the codes that govern proper installation are key to a safe and speedy installation approval.

IREC’s Dick Michaud has been coordinating these workshops.

From February to June, four workshops were held in New York San Diego, Phoenix and Boston. New York, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Minnesota approved these workshops for continuing education credits (CEU’s)

Hosts for the training included the Solar America Cities of San Diego and Boston, APS and National Grid utilities, and the State of New York. The California Center for Sustainable Energy was also a host for the San Diego training. NYSERDA and the Tri-County Chapter of New York State Building Officials Conference was a co-host for the Boston training.

According to Michaud, all events were full to the host facility’s capacity.

“We’ve had 60 local code inspectors in Boston, Phoenix and San Diego, and 135 in New York,” said Michaud. “The turnout has been overwhelming.”

Because of the significant support from the hosts, IREC was able to consider hosting two more training sessions for local officials.

“In the first four events, the facilities, and A/V equipment, the food and the hand-out materials were all donated by the hosts,” said Michaud.

Several of the host states require that local code inspectors accrue a certain amount of continuing education units (CEU’s) per year. These CEU’s can be expensive to accrue and with restricted budgets, many of those states are not able to provide the training.

“In cases where the state requires CEU’s for inspectors to maintain their licenses,” said Michaud, “the state entity responsible for determining CEU eligibility reviewed the SDHW curriculum, and they all agreed that the workshop was eligible for CEU’s for the inspectors.” Those state offices also openly endorsed the training by sending the flyers to their mailing lists and promoting the training directly to their contacts. These events became federal, state, local and IREC partnerships. The evaluations for each session were very positive.

“Because of the generous support from the hosts, there are sufficient funds to conduct two more trainings–one at the We Energies facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 20 for Milwaukee Shines, and one in St. Paul for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Solar America Cities on October 22nd.”

In both instances, the state entities that govern or advise local code officials with regard to CEU’s have approved them for the local code officials attending these workshops.

Michaud said that in order to continue to respond to the many requests for this training, IREC will request additional funding from DOE.

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


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