September 19, 2023

Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations Join IREC in Federally-Funded Clean Energy Safety and Education Initiative

Four regional energy efficiency organizations (REEOs) have partnered with IREC to join the EMPOWERED program, a U.S. Department of Energy-funded initiative providing free education and training on clean energy safety and installation to building professionals.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 19, 2023) — Four regional energy efficiency organizations (REEOs) have partnered with the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) to join the EMPOWERED program, a U.S. Department of Energy-funded initiative providing free education and training on clean energy safety and installation to building professionals. By joining the EMPOWERED partnership, these four REEOs will work to connect firefighters, code officials, contractors, and others across the country to these educational resources, further speeding the transition to clean energy. In advancing the powerful combination of energy efficiency and emerging energy technologies, this partnership both ensures safety and also helps communities cost-effectively reach clean energy goals. 

The REEOs cover broad regions of the country, working to advance energy efficiency across the U.S. The Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) is already involved in the EMPOWERED program. Now joining the program are the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), and the South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER, which covers Texas and Oklahoma). With the addition of these four REEOs, the EMPOWERED program’s reach will grow significantly, giving even more people access to critical safety updates.

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, electric vehicles, and grid-interactive energy efficient building technologies, often collectively referred to as distributed energy resources (DERs). 

These emerging technologies often outpace related 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.

“Giving building and safety officials the tools they need to work with distributed energy resources is essential to the clean energy transition,” said Larry Sherwood, President and CEO of IREC. “We are excited to have these regional energy efficiency organizations join the EMPOWERED program; by connecting their regional networks with its valuable educational resources, they will further expand the already significant reach of this important initiative.”

The EMPOWERED program has already created multiple widely-accessed resources that are in active use across the nation. Over 75,000 building officials in all fifty states have utilized the resources found on the program’s two websites, and The Clearinghouse offers users materials such as guides and webinars on specific distributed energy technologies; focuses on CEU-bearing courses and other educational videos. All resources are free to the public, vetted by industry professionals, and designed for practical application in the field. 

“MEEA is proud to partner with IREC to encourage awareness and adoption of energy efficient technologies,” said Bill Angelos, MEEA Acting Executive Director. “Buildings consume 40% of the nation’s energy and the EMPOWERED program is doing good work to lower this consumption in an efficient way.”

“NEEP is excited to join IREC and our fellow REEOs as partners on the EMPOWERED program,” said John Balfe, NEEP Senior Manager, State and Community Solutions. “Partnerships like these are imperative to growing and diversifying the clean energy workforce in a more collaborative way to promote economic growth and climate change solutions across the country.”

“SPEER is thrilled to enter this partnership with IREC and further our mission of expanding the adoption of energy efficient products and services in the south-central region. We recognize that residential and commercial buildings are responsible for over 30% of the nation’s energy use and this does not include electrical system energy losses…This collaboration will enable our organization to reach a larger audience and provide essential education focused on energy saving policies, energy codes, and new technologies to help consumers and alleviate stress on our aging grid,” said SPEER’s Managing Director, Liz John. 

“There has never been a more impactful or exciting time to advance clean energy technologies, and we are delighted to partner with IREC and others to ensure the building community has the necessary resources to deploy at scale,” said SWEEP Buildings Program Associate Christy Bolognani. 

The REEOS join a roster of expert organizations working collaboratively on the program. In addition to IREC, which leads the initiative, that includes the International Code Council (ICC); International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI); National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM); Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL); Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC); Southface Institute, New Buildings Institute (NBI), and the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA). 

EMPOWERED stands for Educational Materials for Professional Organizations Working on Efficiency and Renewable Energy Developments. It is a collaborative grant program funded jointly by the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, Building Technologies Office, and Vehicle Technologies Office


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 over 40 years, since its founding in 1982. For more information, visit or follow IREC on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram.

MEDIA CONTACT: Zack Loehle, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, (470) 615-9817, [email protected]