Carla Maxwell, ACI
Carla Maxwell, ACI

Carla Maxwell, special projects manager for ACI, was a member of IREC’s Credentialing Program Standard 01022 Working Group, which was charged with the formidable task of revising the standard, breaking it up into two new standards: one for provider accreditation; the other for trainer certification. Though IREC managed and supervised the process, the final product represents what the clean energy community defines as a high quality training provider and an exceptional instructor.

Maxwell, with more than 27 years experience in the home performance industry, previously owned a home performance contracting business for 15 years. She managed the Pennsylvania Energy Center through ACTION-Housing and is a BPI-certified Building Analyst. Currently, Carla currently serves on the board of the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA) and is a past Secretary of the NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter. She’s also an avid baker.

Carla was kind enough to sit with IREC and talk about the process the working group went through to come up with two new standards. Here’s that conversation. [hr]

IREC: You’ve got a long history of experience in the home performance industry, Carla, which made you a perfect candidate to help with the overhaul of IREC’s Standard 01022. Not an inconsequential undertaking, I’m wondering how you found the process?

CM: The process was well structured and clearly defined. While it allowed for more than adequate opportunity to dissect and evaluate the requirements of the standard, the process provided guidance and focus.

IREC: The working group was tasked with breaking up one standard and turning it into two separate standards: one for training providers, one for trainers. Did this make it especially difficult?

CM: Not so much difficult as thought provoking.  The working group had to consider and thoroughly examine the content of the standard from various viewpoints.  For instance the section(s) on safety not only had to be dissected from the viewpoint of the individual instructors, it also had to be examined from the viewpoint of the student and business owner for potential liability issues.

IREC: That makes perfect sense. So for example, in the section on potential liability issues, there are safety concerns for using electricity, for being on roofs (i.e., falls). How did you reconcile the needs for both training providers and trainers?

CM: Safety first! Safety is an issue that’s always at the top of the list for training providers and trainers. We were especially mindful that the new standards ensured a safe learning environment for both students and instructors regarding material and equipment handling.

IREC: One of the key changes is that IREC certified instructors and master trainers now have the opportunity to carry a portable credential to more than one training organization. This seems like a good way to inspire more trainers to pursue the credential.

CM:  Portable credentials are key to advancing and improving our industries.  IREC credentialed instructors and master trainers have proven themselves, through the credentialing process, to be experts in their training fields.  Credential portability will provide IREC certified instructors and master trainers to share their expertise more broadly in our industry.

IREC: We all benefit when that happens. Let’s shift gears a minute and talk about the public comment process. Was there a good response during all three  public comment opportunities, and were the comments helpful? 

CM: Each public comment period not only offered good response in numbers, each also offered opportunity for the working group to ensure the standard was reviewed and analyzed with the best intent in mind for the industry, student and trainer.

IREC: To invite public input on the process is a sure-fire way to show that the process is open and transparent, which ultimately inspires consumer confidence. Because the makeup of the working group offered a diverse background and opportunity for valuable insight, did you find it helpful or challenging to have different voices and backgrounds involved in the process?

CM: It was most definitely beneficial. The committee was very diverse with representation from education, industry, non-profits from both renewable energy and energy efficiency. The diversity of the working group not only provided assurance that a thorough standard examination was in process, it also allowed us the opportunity to view the standard from different sets of eyes.  It was a great learning experience for all of us.

IREC: Was there anything that surprised you, or was especially vexing about the process?

CM: Not at all.  The process, although time consuming, as well as the IREC facilitators kept us on track and provided up-to-date industry information we needed to work through even the most complicated standard components.

IREC: Skilled stewardship and a committed working group—if I can borrow a baking analogy­­—sounds like the right ingredients for success. Thanks for your expertise, knowledge and time on the working group, Carla. Well done.