For 43 years, more than seven million low-income homes in the U.S. have been healthier, safer and cost less to heat and cool, thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the nation’s largest energy efficiency program.

Home energy professional
Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL

DOE requires that each of the 800 weatherization agencies it contracts with focuses on continuous improvement. And now, the agency is following its own advice. Working with the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), a need was identified for expanded training and resources for WAP administrative staff, like program directors, fiscal managers and quality control managers.

That’s when IREC got involved.

“We’ve partnered on a number of WAP projects, most recently taking the lead in updating the Energy Auditor and Quality Control Inspector (QCI) certification exams,” said Anna Sullivan, IREC director of credentialing. “IREC’s experience developing engaging, accessible and job-task-focused online training makes us a natural fit for this role, specifically developing training for administrative staff.”

Once an auditor creates a customized work order,  trained crews install the identified energy efficiency and health and safety measures. A certified quality control inspector ensures all work is completed correctly and that the home is safe for the occupants.

“IREC’s recent success delivering interactive online training to more than 15,000 code officials and fire fighters nationwide demonstrated we could reach the weatherization target audience,  at more than 700 subgrantee organizations across the country, in tribal nations, and in five U.S. territories,” said Kristen Ferguson, IREC director of training and development.

The development schedule is aggressive. IREC plans to have more than 25 online training modules available for the WAP audience in early 2020, each featuring a highly interactive, self-paced learning format which in many cases simulates a live scenario.

“The training modules will be piloted in early 2020, prior to full launch, with volunteers from the WAP network who perform the job tasks addressed in the training,” said Sullivan. “Achieving bold energy efficiency goals in the U.S. is core to IREC’s vision for a 100 percent clean energy future and a skilled workforce to support a clean energy economy.”

DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program has long been a pioneer of cutting-edge technology to improve savings from energy efficiency measures. Through its local contract agencies nationwide, WAP supports 8,500 jobs and provides weatherization improvements and upgrades to approximately 35,000 low-income homes every year.

Image: Association for Energy Affordability