by Benjamin Goldstein, DOE

The recent proliferation of energy efficiency workforce training programs has exposed the need for an objective 3rd party assessment, so that workers may distinguish between different quality programs and providers as they seek to invest in their career development.  Accreditation enables this kind of independent assessment, and the IREC accreditation based on its ISPQ International Standard 01022 is unique because it focuses exclusively on energy efficiency and renewable energy training.

The effort to develop an accreditation program for weatherization and energy efficiency training providers has its origins in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program Training and Technical Assistance Plan (WAP T&TA), which seeks to ensure that Recovery Act invest­ments help lay a permanent foundation for a stronger Weatherization Assistance Program and a vibrant home energy upgrade industry. This foundation will provide enduring opportunities for workers who were hired to support the Recovery Act ramp-up, and those who have relevant skills and are looking for an entry point into the exciting and expanding weatherization and home energy upgrade industries.

The goal is to help establish a high-quality energy efficiency training landscape nationwide, based on recognized standards and a proven accreditation process.  “While the accreditation is voluntary,” said Benjamin Goldstein, project lead for the National Residential Retrofit Guidelines with DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program, “it is an effective way for the Weatherization Assistance Program to assess the progress of its Weatherization Training Centers, and is also available to all other energy efficiency training providers (community colleges, private companies, etc) as an objective means of demonstrating the quality of their programs and differentiating themselves in the training marketplace.”

The forthcoming IREC Accreditation for WAP and energy efficiency training providers will rely on the Job Tasks and Knowledge, Skills and Abilities developed as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades, which are a suite of voluntary national guidelines to help foster the growth of a high quality residential retrofit industry and a skilled and credentialed workforce.

IREC Accreditation for WAP and energy efficiency training providers will be available in Spring, 2011.  More information on DOE’s energy efficiency workforce development efforts is on its website.

You can also catch Benjamin and colleagues, Jennifer Somers (U.S. DOE), and Richard Knaub (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) as they discuss this initiative on Wednesday, March 9, 1:30-3:00 p.m. at the 2011 Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Hope to see you there.

Benjamin Goldstein is the U.S. Department of Energy project lead on weatherization and home performance workforce guidelines, personnel certification, and training program accreditation, and serves as the DOE liaison to the Recovery Through Retrofit interagency process convened by the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Benjamin joined the Department of Energy from the Center for American Progress (CAP), a think tank in Washington, DC, where he focused on policies to create good jobs and transition to a clean energy economy. While at CAP, Benjamin co-authored a report entitled “Rebuilding America: A National Policy Framework for Investment in Energy Efficiency Retrofits.”

Benjamin hails from Santa Monica, California, and received his BA with Honors from the University of California, Berkeley. He has a Masters in International Affairs from the School of International Service at American University.