What were you doing this time two years ago? Perhaps standing in line for your first Covid booster? Eagerly asking friends if they had heard of this addicting new game “Wordle"?  

I’ll tell you where I was. I was riding the high of winning NEEP’s March Madness bracket (much to the chagrin of my more experienced sports colleagues) and had just started working on a new project called Total Energy Pathways: Workforce (TEP Workforce). With funding from US Department of Energy, TEP Workforce aimed to grow and diversify the workforce for building energy upgrade contractors in the Northeast and beyond. NEEP is excited to announce that, two years into the initiative, the Total Building Performance Certificate of Knowledge is now available and can be taken today. Here is what you need to know to get involved. 

Combining Weatherization, Electrification, and More
The TEP Workforce project was born from the challenges of scaling up a comprehensive retrofit pilot program in Vermont called Zero Energy Now (ZEN), which combined weatherization, heating electrification, renewable energy, and financing strategies. Retrofits like these require close coordination among multiple contractors and demand a workforce of highly qualified, knowledgeable professionals who can plan and direct decarbonization retrofit projects. NEEP partnered with Energy Futures Group (EFG), the Building Performance Institute (BPI), and the Building Performance Association (BPA) to bridge this gap by creating a new workforce certificate exam and complementary study materials. The project seeks not only to expand the workforce but also to diversify it. In 2021, 76.1 percent of the energy efficiency workforce were males and 62.9 percent were non-Hispanic white

The Total Building Performance Certificate
We set out with a big task: create a new certificate and training course detailed enough to make a difference in the retrofit knowledge base, but broad enough to be accessible and relevant to a wide range of demographics, skill levels, and climate regions. It is designed to prepare individuals with the holistic knowledge to plan, manage, and deliver whole-building retrofits that center customer satisfaction and maximize residential energy and emissions savings. A group of sustainability, energy efficiency, and building science experts spent months determining eight crucial knowledge areas for the certificate to cover:

  1. Designing a Building Project
  2. Financial Analysis
  3. Communication to Clients
  4. Energy Modeling, Load Calculations, and Analysis
  5. Building Science Concepts
  6. Green House Gas Emission Impacts
  7. Electrification Technologies
  8. Post Retrofit Process

Who is the Certificate For?
More than 250 people participated in the pilot exam process, which gave BPI the data it needed to balance the exam questions, create a passing score, and determine prerequisites. The exam is on the BPI website and free training materials are on our website

""HVAC technician

Weatherization, HVAC, general contractors, energy auditors, and more can use the TBP certificate to increase their knowledge, expand their skills, and take on bigger projects. Pilot participants have found the certificate useful for project administrators to better understand client and employee needs, program administrators who need to better understand their programs, and advocates who want to learn more about building decarbonization. Judith Karpova, a pilot test taker said “[the course] greatly helps to prepare anyone thinking of taking on [a deep energy retrofit]. I was made aware of the new skills I would need and the course gave me an opportunity to understand and practice them.”

What’s Next?
NEEP is now promoting the new certificate to make it broadly accessible to stakeholders throughout the region. State and utility workforce development programs can leverage the certificate to train a skilled and knowledgeable workforce prepared to take on the challenges of the decarbonization era. Contractors can set themselves apart from the competition by offering bigger projects and advocates can support their communities with increased knowledge of building retrofits. We want to target tech/vocational schools, trade associations, and weatherization workforce programs to reach diverse audiences and demonstrate the value in whole home retrofit knowledge. If you are interested in learning more or can help us spread the word, reach out to Andy Winslow

Stay informed

Stay up to date with the latest NEEP and industry news, policies, and trends to your inbox every so often.