Dawn MoodyDawn Moody has one of those voices that sounds like she’s smiling. Just recently, Dawn and two of her ECA colleagues became the first energy efficiency instructors to be awarded IREC certifications. Even more impressive, Dawn was awarded IREC’s prestigious national Affiliated Master Trainer certification in energy efficiency, making her the first Affiliated Master Trainer in energy efficiency, and one of six women in the elite group of 27 IREC Certified Master Trainers nationally. I was eager to catch up with her, but this is one very busy woman. Dawn has been involved in non-traditional work for most of her career. As a Certified BPI  trainer and instructor for the Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia (ECA), she’s in the classroom and the field. She performs audits and proctors exams.  Dawn was enormously gracious to carve out some time to visit with IREC about her work and why credentials are so important. Here’s our conversation.

IREC: You’ve got a few certifications to your name: Certified BPI BA, Weatherization & Retrofit certification, PA Labor and Industry Weatherization Installer and Auditor Certified Instructor, and now IREC Master Trainer certification. How do all those credentials fit on your business card? Seriously, what inspired you to seek another credential—this one, the IREC Master Trainer Certification?

DM: Credentials matter, says my Director of Training, Walter Yakabosky. He was instrumental in my going after IREC’s Master Trainer certification. I had the hours, the experience, the knowledge, the education and the field experience. It was just putting it all together. Walter inspired me. In fact, Walt helped all of us ECA trainers understand and appreciate how important it is to be credentialed. We all had the training, the education. We simply needed to formalize our experience. IREC made it easy.

IREC: How did you get into this work in the first place?

DM: I came from the military which gave me the skills to be comfortable in front of people. From there, I worked with Tradeswomen of Purpose/Women in Non-Traditional Work, Inc. (TOP/WIN), a nationally recognized program that trained and placed more than 800 low-income women into non-traditional employment like electrician, contractor, linesman. After doing that for 15 years, I transitioned to an ECA Neighborhood Energy Center (NEC) in Philly, a one-stop shop for all low-income energy services (there are 14 NECs in Philly) helping low-income individuals understand how they could conserve energy. We served about 100 clients/day, many of whom weren’t aware that they could do simple things to conserve energy and save money. That’s where I cut my energy efficiency teeth. I became an ECA energy auditor, and when ECA got a grant from the Knight Foundation to open a training center, I was invited to help build the training center (2009). I spent six weeks at Penn College of Technology in Williamsport and got eight state certifications. It was just Walt and I when it started. I was one of the first trainers, and went straight into the classroom from the field. We developed the curriculum, and I trained other trainers, including Paul Ricker, the other IREC Master Trainer, and David Dennis, who achieved IREC Certified Instructor status.

IREC: Do you use the IREC job task analyses (JTAs) when designing your curriculum?

DM: Of course! In fact, we redesigned our curriculum based on our standards and field knowledge, but we now match our training to the NREL energy efficiency JTAs. Using the JTAs, we know we’re developing curriculum based on skills and knowledge that a practitioner needs to perform the job safely and competently.  ECA administers and delivers a number of energy efficiency, water conservation and stormwater management programs for which we train our workers – the auditors, carpenters, insulators, quality control inspectors – right here at our agency. We hire some graduates, some go to unions, or to private contractors throughout the region.

IREC: Knowing your multi-varied skills, is there a typical day in the life of Dawn Moody?

DM: I’m not sure there’s a typical day for Dawn Moody, and I’m OK with that. In the conservation department, I perform audits and inspections. I usually do three to four of them a day. Some days we need a trainer, or there’s a need for a proctor for a BPI exam. I like to say I wear many shirts. ECA definitely takes advantage of my versatility!

IREC: No wonder it’s been so hard to track you down. Philadelphia has built a reputation for a green city. They’re one of the Department of Energy’s Solar America Cities. Here’s what’s on the ECA website: ECA is committed to develop a highly skilled and academically credentialed workforce that will achieve the Mayor’s goal of making Philadelphia the “Greenest City in America.” How are you helping Mayor Nutter achieve his goal for the City of Philadelphia?

DM: Mayor Nutter has invested in Philadelphia – he’s been a huge champion for Philly to be the greenest city in the country. At ECA, we’re doing our part in several ways. We’re BPI-accredited and we have BPI-certified professionals on staff.  In addition to having three ECA staff hold the IREC credential, ECA holds IREC training program accreditation. We’re big fans of credentials, you know. We’re branching out in New Jersey as well. ECA’s Knight Training Center and Atlantic Cape Community College co-sponsored a half-day ‘Credentials Matter’ workshop to be an energy efficient contractor for the Sandy recovery on June 27th in Mays Landing, NJ.

IREC: I know. IREC’s Laure-Jeanne Davignon was on the agenda. So of the four trainers on ECA’s staff, three hold the IREC credential, and you’re the only woman. You just became the sixth female Master Trainer in a community of 27. You know where I’m going with this: what do the demographics in your classes look like?

DM: Historically, it’s been a pretty male-dominated industry, but we are seeing more women enter the field. Not as many as I’d like, but I’d say there’s been at least a 10-15% increase of women entering this field. I’m on the Department of Labor’s Speaker’s Bureau, and when I speak to the women in the audience, I tell them that they can do this kind of work. ‘If you’re pushing a stroller, carrying children and bags of groceries, you can lift a six-foot ladder.’ The rate of pay for an energy auditor is $15-$20/hour—not minimum wage, and a path out of poverty.

IREC: So after all these years, is there anything that still surprises?

DM: It amazes me that we still need to convince some of the importance of this work. In the short and long run, it matters, for our children, for our grandchildren. I still love it when we show customers how easy it is to control their energy use – that they really do have control when it comes to energy conservation. But the marvelous thing is that I learn something new every day.

IREC: Was it Confucius who said that the processes of teaching and learning stimulate one another? It’s more than apparent that’s at work here. Thanks a million for your time, Dawn.

Image: courtesy of ECA