Training programs for Energy Auditors and Quality Control Inspectors at the University of Illinois’ Indoor Climate Research & Training (ICRT) program have been awarded accreditation by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc.(IREC).
The ICRT energy conservation training programs are the first to earn accreditation in Illinois. Successful completion of such training programs prepares workers to obtain Home Energy Professional (HEP) certification under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). There are 35 local agencies delivering weatherization services in the state of Illinois, including CEDA in Chicago, which is the nation’s largest weatherization agency.
“It means we are recognized as having a high-quality curriculum that meets all the requirements of DOE’s Home Energy Professional certification for Energy Auditor and Quality Control Inspector,” said Paul Francisco, the Director of the ICRT training center. “Someone who successfully completes our training program can feel confident that he or she has everything they need to pass the HEP examination.”
ICRT is part of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois. It operates a training center for weatherization contractors, assessors and develops training curricula for the national home performance industry. ICRT also performs research into issues related to residential energy and indoor air quality.
Accreditation affects the certifications for Energy Auditor and Quality Control Inspector now offered under the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program. The Quality Control program was granted provisional accreditation since it has been available for less than a year.
There are a limited number of accredited weatherization training programs in the U.S., according to Francisco. The next goal for ICRT is to seek accreditation for its Retrofit Installers Training Program, he added.
Also a research engineer at ISTC, Francisco’s research focuses on energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and their interactions in residential buildings. His work emphasizes building science principles and understanding the ‘House as a System’ approach that includes both energy and the indoor environment. He is a member of the ad hoc Health and Safety Committee for DOE’s low-income Weatherization Assistance Program and a member of the Board of Directors of the Building Performance Institute. He is also vice-chair of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Environmental Health Committee and the chair of the ASHRAE standard on residential ventilation.
Congress created WAP in 1976 to decrease residential energy expenditures, particularly of low-income Americans. WAP has distributed $200-250 million to weatherize about 100,000 homes per year nationwide. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) allocated $5 billion through March, 2013 to weatherize some 300,000 homes per year and to stimulate the economy by providing new jobs in the weatherization field.
Accreditation of training programs help drive effectiveness of WAP’s energy savings and health and safety goals, in addition to overall cost-effectiveness of the program, Francisco noted. He estimated that the ICRT program trained 300 workers and 300 contractors in Illinois during the ARRA period.