Raising the Bar within the Weatherization and Home Performance Industry

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The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) was created in 1976 to assist low-income families who lacked resources to invest in energy efficiency. This video not only shines a light of the existing success of the WAP, but it also takes a look at its recent evolution through the Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project. This particular effort has brought a greater sense of unity to the industry, defining quality work, quality workers, and quality training.


Below is the text version for the Raising the Bar within the Weatherization and Home Performance Industry video.

Video montage of a neighborhood.

When a person gets their home weatherized, that house is more comfortable.  It’s more safe and more healthy and it eventually saves them money on their energy bills.

It becomes more livable, more affordable, and hopefully makes for a happier family.

Words “Josh Olsen, Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)” appear on the screen.

The Weatherization Assistance Program is the nation’s oldest and largest whole house home performance program.  I work with low-income families and we’re in every state, territory in the country.

Footage of a home weatherization worker drilling into the side of a brick home followed by the words “Larry Zarker, CEO, Building Performance Institute” appearing on the screen.

The National Weatherization Assistance Program serves a very important function in our country to make sure that all individuals can live in a home that is healthy, safe, durable, and comfortable. 

Footage of a home weatherization worker sealing vents.

It can be a very big change in their life.  Right? It means they have more money in their pockets to pay for food, to pay for medicine, to send their kids to college. Right? It makes a big difference.

Footage of a home weatherization worker inspecting the electrical part of a home.

A lot of them that I get to talk to are just thrilled that this has happened.  They didn’t know it was possible that they could get all these things done to their house for free.

The Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project is about providing a foundation for the weatherization program as well as the home performance industry and giving a baseline of work quality expectations and work performance expectations that the entire district can build off of.

Words “Steve Lommele, Team Lead, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)” appear on the screen.

So the first step of the Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project was to define quality work through standard work specifications that take a whole house approach to energy efficiency installations.

Footage of a woman speaking to a small audience in a convention center.

After defining quality work, the next thing was to define quality training so we could make sure that workers were learning what they needed to know in order to be effective in the field.

Footage of a man drilling into the side of a brick home.

The final step of the guidelines project was to define quality workers and we did this through advanced home energy professional certifications that demonstrate that workers have the knowledge, the experience, and the competency in the field in order to do quality home performance work. 

Footage of a man replacing an air filter.

Prior to the guidelines project, the weatherization program and the home performance program, sort of as a whole, didn’t have a consistent way to measure the work that we did or the professionalism of the folks who were working in it.

Footage of a man wearing a face mask inspecting venting underneath a home followed by the words “Phil Hull, Director of Training, Community Housing Partners (CHP)” appear on the screen.

Every state has different standards.  Each training center has a different way of training to those standards.  I think for us as an industry to grow we needed a consistent standard across the nation that we can all teach to, just getting everybody kind of on the same page, increasing the quality, the efficiency of everything. 

Montage of a conference followed by the words “Chris Baker, Training Coordinator, Southwest Building Science Training Center” appear on the screen.

I think this is the time now that we’re finally doing it.  We’re finally, kind of, coming together.  It’s not every man for himself anymore.  It’s all of us collaborating to say, “Here’s where the industry needs to go.  Here’s how we can increase our quality and efficiency and now altogether we can go into the future and really push this industry forward.”

What we now have is nationally consistent expectations of our work.  We have nationally consistent expectations of the work force.  It really means that we are able to put our best foot forward as a program and talk about the good work that we’ve been doing for 30 years in a way that will give us another 30 years of work to do.

The words “accredited training, standard work specifications, home energy professional certifications” appear on the screen followed by the words “Amanda Hatherly, Director, New Mexico Energy$mart Academy” appear on the screen.

The accredited training and the standard work specifications and the certifications for the workers is a huge step forward because it really shows the rest of the country that we are really serious and that we’re stepping up to create quality product and it really is accountability of federal dollars.

Footage of a man reading paperwork outside of a work van full of equipment.

We have a list of expectations.  It’s not opinion anymore.  It’s, “Here is the baseline for quality.  You can exceed it but you can’t go below this baseline.”  It puts us all on the same page, I think.

So it’s extremely valuable to not have to have call backs, to know that you’re putting out a good, quality product every time.

Footage of a man holding paperwork outside of a van full of equipment, followed by two men inspecting a brick wall with a flashlight.

The guidelines project is really about increasing the level of quality in the home performance industry and inspiring greater confidence among consumers, utilities, and program administrators around the country.

Words “Paul Raymer, Chief Investigator, Heyoka Solutions” appears on the screen followed by footage of a man with a tool in his hand talking to a couple inside a home.

If this project didn’t exist then the homeowners would certainly be the ones to be hurt because they wouldn’t know who to trust and who to believe.

I think for consumers the real value is that now they have a single way to reference good work and a single place to go when they’re looking for information about who’s qualified to do the work in their homes. 

Footage of two men working inside an attic.

For me, if this improves the work in just one homeowner’s house, if this saves one life that to me is all that matters.

Footage of men working on the ducts of a home, followed by a man inspecting the outside of a home when it’s snowing, followed by a man looking at the insulation of a home.

That’s what this industry is about, is about really going out there and working with someone and saying, “You don’t have to live in this condition.  You don’t have to be cold.  You don’t have to be hot in the summertime.  You can enjoy your home. You can have lower utility bills.  You can be safe and healthy within your home.”  That’s why I like this industry because it’s really about service.

Footage of a conference followed by a man crawling below a home inspecting the pipes.

I don’t think there is another industry that I know of or have ever come across that has so many incredible people, smart people, dedicated people. Some of these guys that are crawling under the bellies of mobile homes could be doing anything, making lots of money, and yet they keep doing it because their hearts are there.

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Footage of a neighborhood with the words “for more information visit: energy.gov/eere/wipo”