Total Energy Pathways (TEP)
For homeowners interested in home energy retrofits, there are a variety of issues they must consider, such as weatherization, HVAC, strategic electrification, and solar photovoltaics. This can mean hiring several contractors, and coordinating multiple schedules. Total Energy Pathways (TEP) is a program that bundles all of these trades and offers them to homeowners as part of a one-stop shop experience. TEP helps individuals dramatically reduce energy bills, lower their carbon footprint, and create a more comfortable home – all at an affordable cost. It builds and supports market capabilities to provide comprehensive zero energy/carbon home energy retrofits. In order to scale the TEP program and projects, we need a more diversified workforce, qualified to conduct a whole-home retrofit approach.
Total Energy Pathways (TEP) – Workforce
The construction workforce suffers from a labor shortage. The energy efficiency workforce is no different. We need to both continue to develop the workers already in the industry, and attract and train new individuals. The goal of Total Energy Pathways (TEP) Workforce is to scale, grow, and diversify the contractor workforce. Specifically, women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) are severely underrepresented in the energy efficiency workforce. Across the NEEP region, there are currently nearly half a million energy efficiency jobs. Women make up 24 percent of this workforce. Asian, Black, and Hispanic communities make up 5.4 percent, 8.43 percent, and 12.98 percent, respectively. Through a U.S. DOE-funded grant, NEEP has set out with its project partners to train and diversify the energy efficiency workforce in an equitable way.
The TEP Workforce Team
NEEP works with project partners Energy Futures Group (EFG), Building Performance Institute (BPI), and Building Performance Association (BPA) to help guide the project. EFG brings to the project their knowledge from early involvement with the Vermont ZEN program, the precursor to TEP. BPI will develop a certificate program, which is described further below. BPA will disseminate information on the TEP opportunities and certificate program.
TEP Workforce Training Resources
There are two pathways of training available from TEP Workforce, which can be pursued individually or together. The first pathway is through the Online Resource Center (ORC), which provides flexibility for varied educational needs and time commitments. This is an on-demand resource with original content from NEEP, links to resources from NEEP’s project partners, and links to educational resources from many sources, including the U.S. Department of Energy, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The purpose of the ORC is to serve the needs of anyone interested in learning more about energy efficiency, and training towards an energy efficiency career. In particular, the ORC is designed to make trainings accessible to those whose family and work commitments make attendance at regularly-scheduled classes difficult. The content includes one-pagers, multi-media resources, webinars, downloadable training tools, and links to paid trainings or apprenticeships and workforce development resources. The ORC will be updated with two new resources each quarter over the next three years, so check back regularly for new content.
The second pathway is through a nationally-recognized certificate. BPI is working with EFG to develop this program. The certificate will be earned by passing an exam (currently under development) that will evaluate core competencies in the home energy retrofit field. The ORC will work in conjunction with the certificate program, for those who so desire.
TEP Workforce utilizes these two pathways to focus on growing the workforce with new, diverse members and to further develop the competencies of those currently in the field. These individuals will be well trained to become general contractors – the prime contractors who will subcontract with other trades to provide home energy retrofit services to homeowners under one umbrella. In this way, TEP Workforce will support the TEP program in breaking down silos in the home energy retrofit market.
The goal of the TEP Workforce project includes growing a diversified workforce for the residential built environment and construction. This will be achieved through updating and maintaining the ORC so that it will serve the needs of as large a population as possible, both inside and outside the NEEP region. Additionally, the TEP certificate will educate existing and new workforces, providing new trainings to those looking to expand their current skillset or find a new career. This certificate will be nationally recognized, thanks to the respect given to BPI’s long track record in creating these programs. NEEP is working with 10 states who together form a Project Advisory Committee to review progress and share knowledge from government or non-profit led efforts in these states. The TEP Workforce program dovetails with the activities of the TEP program as a whole. The time is ripe for both of these programs, as more people learn about the benefits of whole home retrofits, whether as homeowners or contractors.