Supporting a Home Performance Workforce
What is the home performance workforce and what can we do to support it? This is the question that the new Building Performance Association has been asking itself. When I have asked home performance contractors about the policies and programs that best support their businesses, their answers have changed dramatically over the last decade. In January of this year they told me, “I do not need you to create jobs, I need you create job applicants with the skills I need, ready to work.” They talk about the need for trained workers to fill the job openings that they currently have. This was the inspiration for legislative and program initiatives that the Association has fought successfully to move forward this year.
In February, I was thrilled that Chairman Rush sought to include Section 202, Energy Workforce Grant Program in H.R. 1315, "The Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Act of 2019" when it was introduced at the 116th Congress. The legislation supports training for individuals for employment in clean energy industries, including residential energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofits. The grant program will help businesses train their workforce, with the most support being provided to the smallest businesses with the most need. Our articulate Policy Committee Co-Chair Leticia Colon de Mejias testified on behalf of this legislation in March, representing our contractor membership and calling on Congress to support home performance contracting.
I was also proud to join members of the Maryland Building Performance Association in Annapolis, Maryland, as we met with dozens of key delegates and Senators in March prior to consideration of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, HB 1453, which includes grants and support for apprenticeship programs. This bill not only passed but became law this month and the Association will continue to work with the contractors in Maryland to put additional context to the energy efficiency portions of the new law.
While we are working to support the workforce, we also want to expand this workforce. On April 1st at the start of the 2019 National Home Performance Conference, the Association played host to the first annual Smart On Smart Workshop to work with home performance contractors, programs, and utilities to expand the home performance workforce to include technology providers, implementers, and installers. When I opened the session and looked out at a sea of faces interested in learning of these advanced technologies, I saw a glimpse of the future recommended in our 2018 Report, Redefining Home Performance in the 21st Century.*
* Read and download the report, Redefining Home Performance in the 21st Century.
As the national conference itself held a track of smart home sessions to discuss the ins and outs of this growing part of the industry, the workshop aims to train a work force in new technologies and to advance an understanding of the connected home and what it means to increasing its energy performance. To that end, the Association has submitted comments to the EPA in May, in support of the evolution of Smart Home Energy Management Systems and the use of an Energy Star label for a suite of smart energy products.
Workforce remains at the top of our thoughts as we work each month to grow the Association and its policy and program initiatives to support our evolving membership. We hope you will join us.
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