ValueAccording to market research conducted by the Shelton Group, 80 percent of Americans don’t think they use more energy today than they did five years ago, and about half think their homes are already energy efficient. As misguided as this perception may be, it certainly throws a wrench in the works when trying to sell consumers on energy efficient products or retrofit work.

Our smart colleagues in the residential energy efficiency sector realized this some time ago, and started to sell things like comfort and health, instead of insulation, the fanciest new air exchanger or even saving money. Since the most impactful energy efficiency measures aren’t necessarily the most cost effective, turns out energy savings may not be the key to selling most consumers on what EE can do for them. But who doesn’t want a more comfortable home and a healthy family?

IREC faces a similar challenge when communicating about the importance of effective workforce development and credible credentials. Words like ‘certification’ and ‘credential’ are accurate, but don’t convey the transformative role credentials play in improving employer profitability, the quality of work products and the prosperity of the clean energy economy. We’ve identified a need to move the conversation from credentials to value, and how the work we do can make all our lives better.

Shifting this message will be a team effort. Some of you have already heard from us, as we reach out about your experiences, and concrete ways we can build more value into the IREC credential. We are also working with our industry partners to identify metrics that can quantitatively support the impact of credible credentials on industry.

In addition, IREC is working to bring this value message to a broader audience than ever. We are continuing and expanding our outreach with employers and workforce investment boards. Our Kristen Ferguson presented with a panel at the recent Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange, to share how valid industry credentials help utilities with quality assurance. She was heartened to hear about the utilities’ genuine commitment to making clean energy programs more accessible to their customers, and the interest this crucial sector is developing in the work we do.

This month, the IREC team will be on site at the Solar Power International conference, speaking with employers and visiting with credential holders to get your input on our program’s direction. During IREC’s 3iForum on the show floor, Joe Sarubbi, Cheri Faso and I will facilitate a discussion about IREC’s national workforce solutions to increase employer profitability.

We’ll continue this dialogue for as long as it takes for the intangible to become more concrete, and the value message to be recognized. We are open to your ideas and input on the most effective ways to accomplish this. Please stay in touch.

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