IREC offers clean energy training for professionals in a variety of sectors, including firefighters, apartment maintenance technicians, and code officials.

IREC’s research-driven, proven training development approach offers compelling and relevant educational opportunities that fit into the lifestyle of working professionals and are directly applicable to their jobs. IREC training includes innovative online courses which enable learners to interact with content in a way that enhances knowledge retention and impacts job performance.

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Apartment Maintenance Techs

Apartment maintenance technicians have the information and ability to influence an owner or investor’s bottom line and resident comfort by consistently analyzing, recommending, implementing, and evaluating energy efficiency improvements in the buildings they maintain. Training is needed to help them understand the variety of available energy efficiency measures and how to evaluate their cost-effectiveness and benefits. This makes it more likely they will implement and maintain measures that impact energy usage and are otherwise beneficial to all stakeholders.

IREC worked with WinnResidential to offer energy efficiency training to more than 110 maintenance supervisors and maintenance technicians in New York State. The project was designed to demonstrate that arming apartment maintenance technicians with practical energy efficiency knowledge they can apply to their daily operations results in energy savings. WinnResidential and IREC are focused on best practices that can be sustained and replicated across apartment communities throughout the U.S.

This project built on micro-credentials and training previously designed by IREC in partnership with the National Apartment Association Education Institute.

This initiative is supported with funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

“We feel this work is an important piece of the puzzle to reduce energy usage in multi-family buildings throughout the US.”

Laure-Jeanne Davignon, IREC Vice President — Workforce Program

Firefighters

In many areas of the country, firefighters are becoming better prepared for emergencies where solar technology is present. They’re alleviating their safety concerns. They’re able to swiftly identify and shut down solar systems. They know where they can operate safely with a solar-energized system in play, as well as when they can or can’t employ rooftop ventilation.

IREC’s in-person and interactive online training courses are helping firefighters and other first responders become “solar smarter,” allowing them to feel confident and safe when responding to fires on PV-equipped structures — with a better understanding of the potential hazards.

Video-simulated environments allow first responders to practice the skills they’ve learned before they pull up to a PV-powered structure. Designed by experts from the solar industry and the fire service, the courses are taught by active career firefighters and supported by the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) and the National Association of State Fire Marshals. To date, more than 7,000 firefighters have taken advantage of IREC’s online and live solar training.

Funding to establish this initiative came from the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Nobody wants first responders to wait for an emergency to learn the answers to important questions about solar technologies.”

Larry Sherwood, IREC President and CEO

Code Officials

PV systems can be as straightforward as many of the electrical system code officials review or inspect, but the technology is advancing at lightning speed, with new related electrical codes and constantly evolving best practices. Keeping up is critical, as is improving the plan review process to help authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) complete a solar plan review as effectively and efficiently as other plans.

Recognizing this urgent need, IREC and industry partners IAEI (International Association of Electrical Inspectors) and the International Code Council’s Solar Rating & Certification Corporation (ICC-SRCC) developed new in-person and online solar training for code officials. 

IREC’s online learning website features video-based interactive solar training targeted specifically for code officials, focused on a comprehensive process to inspect five types of solar systems. IAEI, International Code Council, and NABCEP offer continuing education units.

“One of the things most valuable for a contractor is building confidence with an inspector so they feel you know and follow the applicable codes and standards.”

Don Hughes, 20+ year code official with Santa Clara County, Calif.
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EMPOWERED: Training Safety Officials on Distributed Energy Technologies

IREC and partners have launched EMPOWERED, 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.

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. 

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