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March 5, 2014
Training in building science and energy efficiency is essential to moving the house building industry forward into Net Zero Energy, successfully. As BHE COO, Hal Richman has observed, many people in our industry do not see the entire value chain. It’s a complicated one – easy to see in this diagram how the home building industry is a hot, fragmented mess of experts and expertise, completely at odds with itself sometimes.
While all of the industry segments have identified their own value chain and developed ways to measure performance and quality, they are also focused on their own sales funnels, and so don’t sit back and ponder the big picture value chain, looking for ways to measure performance and quality at each layer of each segment.
We’ve been talking about training needs in this area with a wide variety of organizations, many of whom have pointed to trades programs in colleges and said ‘it’s already already being done’. And it’s true. A wide range of trades programs cover building science in the curriculum, and some have more emphasis on energy efficiency measures than others. But only a small fraction of people working on building sites, in lending institutions, or for product manufacturers will go through a trades program. Training needs vary with the role that a person plays in the value chain.
The first challenge is identifying what those training needs are, and how best to deliver the right amount of training for each set of players to establish core competencies. When we look at what training/support is needed for each level, we begin to see how we can start to develop a competent workforce.
However, it doesn’t end at training. Competencies don’t stand on their own - they are part of a culture of competence that requires management support, on-the-job support, workforce readiness, as well as tool and material availability.