Checking dense pack. Image: National Sustainable Structures Center
Checking dense pack. Image: National Sustainable Structures Center

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released preliminary findings from a peer-reviewed study about the efficacy of DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). This multi-year study has long been in the works, but the initial release is in response to a June 2015 working paper from academics with the E2e Project, which erroneously posited that the federal WAP and other energy efficiency programs are not good investments.

The DOE study’s preliminary findings support that the “WAP is indeed a good investment with energy savings, exceeding the costs by a factor of 1.4.” If you account for the health and safety impacts of measures implemented by WAP workers in low-income homes, the benefit cost ratio leaps to four.

For those not familiar with the WAP and their inspirational work throughout the U.S., it improves the energy efficiency of low-income homes, with 7 million families receiving assistance since the program’s inception in 1976. While sometimes thankless work during an era in which low income assistance is not generally a popular cause, a network of passionate individuals has defied the odds and provided weatherization measures for more than 1 million homes during the ARRA period alone (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), exceeding by a long shot an initial goal of 600,000.

Whether you work in weatherization/energy efficiency, solar or another clean energy sector, you know that the key to excellent workmanship is high quality, industry supported workforce training. Since 2010, IREC has worked with DOE’s network of Weatherization Training Centers to leverage our credentialing framework for clean energy training to improve the quality and consistency of training across the network. In the ensuing five years, more than 60 programs in 22 centers were accredited by IREC, and 20 credentials were awarded to instructors in the WAP. With another 20+ credentials for WAP programs or instructors in the pipeline, this number will continue to rise.

IREC is honored to support the work of Weatherization Training Centers like Southface Energy Institute, where Steve Herzlieb, IREC accredited master trainer for energy auditor and QC inspector, has this to say about the importance of instructor certification:

“Accredited training programs have both excellent programs and excellent instructors. Losing focus on the instructors would be like losing the wheels on a Ferrari! Training programs need to encourage their instructors to get independently certified.  If the instructors themselves are certified, it is one more indication of value to the students.”

Allison Dillon, director at the National Sustainable Structures Center (IREC accredited for its energy auditor, QC inspector, retrofit installer/technician and crew leader training programs), says this:

“Energy utilities, companies and homeowners that seek competent and skilled energy professionals can know that the graduates from NSSC’s Home Energy Professional training programs have received the gold standard in building science education and have demonstrated their ability to successfully diagnose and improve a home’s comfort and energy efficiency.”

Our work with the WAP has been a clear fit with IREC’s mission to accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies in the U.S. We are proud to support not only the WAP’s energy and workforce development goals, but also their commitment to social justice and energy equity.

Want to learn more about the WAP?

Enjoy the remaining days of summer, and as always, please keep the good ideas coming.