New Project Will Provide Training on Distributed Energy Technologies for Building, Safety Officials

IREC and partners today announced the launch of a three-year, $2.1 million project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), to reduce barriers to widespread adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs) by providing education and resources to expand the knowledge of 30,000 safety professionals. 

Building, fire, and safety officials play a critical role in enabling the safe, widespread, and rapid deployment of new technologies that make the grid more sustainable and resilient. These include energy storage systems (ESS), electric vehicles (EVs), and grid-interactive energy efficient building technologies. However, these emerging technologies have outpaced codes and existing educational resources, creating an urgent need for up-to-date guidance for this audience. 

By increasing the familiarity and confidence of these key stakeholders to permit and inspect DERs, the project will reduce barriers to widespread DER deployment. The project will tackle several unique challenges: rapid changes in emerging technology, the evolving needs of those on the front lines of DER adoption, and the ability to cost-effectively reach a nationwide audience.

“Building and safety officials—such as building and electrical inspectors and fire marshals—are critical stakeholders for enabling the safe and efficient installation of clean energy and related technologies,” said Larry Sherwood, President and CEO of IREC. “As these technologies evolve rapidly, it will be imperative that they have access to relevant training and up-to-date resources. This project will make that a reality.” 

The project will create one of the most widely-accessed DER information clearinghouse websites to house expert information on clean energy codes, standards, permitting, and inspection. Educational content and resources will be regularly added to this clearinghouse website designed to engage a diverse audience. Concurrently, IREC will develop modular online training for the plan review and inspection of solar PV systems, energy storage systems, and EV charging infrastructure. 

The team members that join IREC on this project are experts in their respective areas: International Code Council (ICC); International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI); National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM); Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL); University of Central Florida – FSEC Energy Research Center (UCF-FSEC); Energy Storage Association (ESA); and UL LLC. 

Each partner brings the critical perspective of its stakeholders to inform education solutions, as well as broad networks that will allow the team to collectively drive thousands to the website to increase their knowledge of and confidence in DER technologies. This team previously collaborated on a U.S. Department of Energy-funded project to successfully train 15,000 code officials and fire service personnel on solar technologies. 

“The Code Council recognizes the essential role energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies play in achieving community and industry level goals,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims. “Code officials are key to broad deployment of these solutions. We are pleased to join with IREC to help deliver the resources code officials need to support these technologies and practices.”

“Electrical knowledge and reliable education avenues are essential for electrical inspectors, installers, and designers engaged in today’s fast-growing renewable energy sector,” said IAEI Director of Digital Education Joseph Wages, Jr. “Well trained inspectors and installers reduce the friction that sometimes develops during the installation and inspection of these new technologies to ensure safe, code compliant systems.”

“Ensuring Fire Marshals and other safety officials fully understand solar, storage, energy efficiency, and alternative fuels is critical to meeting our mission of protecting human life, property, and the environment from fire and related hazards,” said Jim Narva, NASFM Executive Director. “Partnering with IREC on this cooperative agreement will foster relationships between all the stakeholders, raising the safety bar for these systems.”

“Ensuring Fire Marshals and other safety officials fully understand solar, storage, energy efficiency, and alternative fuels is critical to meeting our mission of protecting human life, property, and the environment from fire and related hazards,” said Jim Narva, NASFM Executive Director. “Partnering with IREC on this cooperative agreement will foster relationships between all the stakeholders, raising the safety bar for these systems.”

“Providing easy access to educational tools for everything from permitting best practices to potential emergency response in a single repository will be very valuable for authorities having jurisdiction, emergency responders, and system developers,” said Matt Paiss, Energy Storage Safety Advisor at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “PNNL sees a great opportunity for this project to fill important knowledge gaps and ultimately accelerate safe installations of renewable energy and storage systems.” 

“The clean energy industry is rapidly evolving and requires that those responsible for code enforcement and quality control have access to the most recent technical advances. Training is a core mission of FSEC, and we’re excited to contribute our expertise in solar-plus-storage and alternative fuel vehicles as part of this essential team,” said James Fenton, Director of FSEC Energy Research Center at the University of Central Florida.

The project team was selected as a part of the Educational Materials for Professional Organizations Working on Efficiency and Renewable Energy Developments (EMPOWERED) funding program, a collaborative effort across EERE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, Building Technologies Office, and Vehicle Technologies Office

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About IREC: The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) builds the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy, and our planet. Its vision is a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. IREC develops and advances the regulatory reforms, technical standards, and workforce solutions needed to enable the streamlined integration of clean, distributed energy resources. IREC has been trusted for its independent clean energy expertise for nearly 40 years, since its founding in 1982. For more information, visit www.irecusa.org or follow IREC on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook

About ICC: The International Code Council is the leading global source of model codes and standards and building safety solutions. Code Council codes, standards and solutions are used to ensure safe, affordable and sustainable communities and buildings worldwide.

About IAEI: International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) is a 501(c)6 not-for-profit professional trade association committed to public safety from electrical hazards by providing expert, unbiased leadership in electrical code and standards development and premier education and certification for electrical professionals. IAEI was established in and has been in continuous operation since 1928. Active members and partners in the association include but are not limited to electrical inspectors, building construction inspectors, electrical installers, electrical contractors, engineers, testing agencies,  standards organizations, manufacturers and distributors. Learn more at https://www.iaei.org.

About NASFM: The membership of National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) comprises the most senior fire officials in the United States. NASFM’s mission is two-fold: to protect human life, property and the environment from fire, and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of State Fire Marshals’ operations. State Fire Marshals’ responsibilities vary from state to state but typically include fire safety code adoption and enforcement, fire and arson investigation, fire incident data reporting and analysis, public education and advising Governors and State Legislatures on fire protection. Learn more at https://www.firemarshals.org.

About PNNL: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit PNNL’s News Center. Follow us on Twitter, FacebookLinkedIn and Instagram.

About ESA: The U.S. Energy Storage Association (ESA) is the national trade association dedicated to energy storage, working toward a more resilient, efficient, sustainable and affordable electricity grid – as is uniquely enabled by energy storage. With more than 200 members, ESA represents a diverse group of companies, including independent power producers, electric utilities, energy service companies, financiers, insurers, law firms, installers, manufacturers, component suppliers and integrators involved in deploying energy storage systems around the globe. Learn more at www.energystorage.org.

About FSEC: FSEC Energy Research Center (FSEC ERC), also known as the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), was created by the Florida Legislature in 1975 to serve as the statewide energy research institute and advance the use of solar energy. Administered by the University of Central Florida, FSEC ERC has grown beyond its initial scope and conducts training and research on all aspects of renewable energy, including alternative fuels, fuel cells, energy storage, electric vehicles, building science, energy efficiency technologies, education and training, and policy analysis. Learn more at https://energyresearch.ucf.edu/.

About UL: UL helps create a better world by applying science to solve safety, security and sustainability challenges. We empower trust by enabling the safe adoption of innovative new products and technologies. Everyone at UL shares a passion to make the world a safer place. All of our work, from independent research and standards development, to testing and certification, to providing analytical and digital solutions, helps improve global well-being. Businesses, industries, governments, regulatory authorities and the public put their trust in us so they can make smarter decisions. To learn more, visit UL.com. To learn more about UL’s nonprofit activities, visit UL.org.About the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: The mission of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is to create and sustain American leadership in the transition to a global clean energy economy. Its vision is a strong and prosperous America powered by clean, affordable, and secure energy. Learn more at energy.gov/eere.

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