Firefighters, first responders, utility workers, safety officials and building managers all play an important role in assuring building safety and responding in case of an incident. With a changing energy system, these workers must stay current on protocols, standards, regulations, and new technologies. Whether they are interacting with buildings with advanced controls, distributed energy systems, power grids incorporating solar and storage technologies, or electric or alternative-fueled vehicles, today’s frontline workforces are encountering a wider range of energy technologies in their daily jobs or in responding to emergencies.
Support Tailored to Professional Needs
Now, through an initiative of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), more of these frontline workers will have access to new energy educational materials tailored to their profession. This support is made available through the EMPOWERED funding opportunity. EMPOWERED - Educational Materials for Professional Organizations Working on Efficiency and Renewable Energy Developments - is a collaborative effort across EERE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), and Building Technologies Office (BTO).
EERE recently announced five EMPOWERED awardees in two topic areas:
- Emergency response and resilience planning. This topic addresses the training and education of firefighters, first responders, and other emergency-response professionals. Awardees are the National Fire Protection Association and International Association of Fire Fighters.
- Safe DER building integration. This topic deals with training and educating safety officials, building managers, and building owners. Awardees are the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Southface Energy Institute, and New Buildings Institute.
Awardees will develop, test, and disseminate new educational materials and training resources, and work with existing training organizations to reach targeted professional groups that must manage and adapt to the rapid growth of new energy technologies. Work done through these projects could educate hundreds of thousands of U.S. safety and building workers.
Greater Competence and Confidence
In addition to the EMPOWERED program, EERE offers valuable resources for frontline professionals through its Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technology Office, which partners with code development organizations, code officials, industry experts, and National Laboratory scientists to draft new model codes and equipment standards covering emerging hydrogen technologies for consideration by code enforcing jurisdictions. Information and technical assistance is also available through DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program (BECP) Resource Center, which supports the development and implementation of residential and commercial building energy codes.
For American citizens and businesses, developing a well-trained workforce familiar with today’s evolving energy technologies will enhance community safety and resilience, expedite permitting, and reduce liability and insurance costs. It can also help bolster public confidence in the reliability and effectiveness of these rapidly changing technologies.
Benefits are significant for frontline professionals as well. As infrastructures continue to get “smarter,” professionals will be better positioned to keep pace and to shape successful careers in this new energy future.
EMPOWERED is a collaborative effort across EERE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, Building Technologies Office, and Vehicle Technologies Office. Learn more about the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.