How to Equip the Residential Energy Efficiency Industry for the Future, Now!

How to Equip the Residential Energy Efficiency Industry for the Future, Now!

Shawna HendersonOctober 07, 2019

This article was first published 7 Oct 2019, updated & revised 19 Oct 2023

There are as many paths to becoming an energy advisor as there are Energy Advisors (EAs) out there. There are also as many paths to becoming an energy efficiency renovator as there are…


That’s true, but it doesn’t mean that any path will do, and many paths are full of obstacles and work-arounds.


In the residential construction and renovation industry, we are stalled out in a place where we don’t have adequate building science training and best practices for energy efficiency upgrades. The article in the link is from 2019, but the problem is still the same:

We don’t have clearly recognizable training paths for those who are doing the work, overseeing the work, specifying the work.

Not only that, but we don’t have enough people in place in any sector of the industry, and we're missing the chance to engage whole communities of people who traditionally would not be included in construction. We need more people! Engage! Invite everyone in!

Two of the biggest challenges we face when working to improve the residential construction and renovation are:

1. A large proportion of the folks working in the industry came to it via informal ways, not through a college or trade school

2. The industry is not regulated. Licensing of builders and renovators is patchy across the country, and continuing education requirements are limited

These two factors mean that it's hard to get people into training programs. When you make your living by working on the tools, your time is literally worth money. You need to keep your clients happy and your crews employed. Taking time off for training and spending money while you're not earning is hard to justify in a small business.

But - we need more builders and renovators and crews and subs to be more conversant in building science and the Envelope First approach.

We need more EAs to carry out performance testing and energy modelling for houses. We need a professionalization of that role, so that EAs can guide homebuilders and renovators to cost-effective, code-compliant, high performance building envelope packages, and the results of those packages are trusted by building officials.

We need Building Officials with a deeper understanding of building science. The Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) needs to know, for example, how each of these typical high-performance/Net Zero wall assemblies is compliant:

  • Split Insulated Wall: Vapour-Permeable exterior, Airtight Sheathing Membrane
  • Split Insulated Wall: Low-Perm Exterior Insulation
  • Split Insulated Wall: Low-Perm Exterior Insulation, Airtight Sheathing Membrane
  • Interior Insulated Double Stud Wall: Int + Ext Air Barrier, Optional service wall
We need builders who understand the “why” behind what they are being required to build under high performance codes (Step Code in BC, upcoming Tiered Code under the NBC), because a checklist of prescriptive measures is not going to cut it. We’ll be focussed on performance-based compliance. We need site crews that understand the crucial role their work plays in making a safe, healthy high-performance house. 


All of this takes training.

For some people, especially those who are just coming into the workforce, training will be a full-on college program and path to Red Seal accreditation or other certification. For most others, the training will be a series of online training courses, workshops or on-the-the-job demonstrations, or a combination of all three. And in between, there’s going to be a mix of Instructor Led Training (ILT) and online, blended learning and, in the near future, augmented reality (AR).

The thing is: we need to be doing this NOW, in anticipation of code changes. The Tiered NBC and a new section, Part 10: Alterations to Existing Buildings will be out in 2025. This is our best opportunity to get ahead of a sea-change in our industry.

We’re not just looking down the barrel of a trade shortage. It’s already here - there are simply not enough bodies engaged in the trades to cover all the work. This puts our industry in a double bind - nobody can take time to get training, because they are run off their feet with demand for work, PLUS we’re losing seasoned, experienced building officials to retirement.

There’s a lot to accomplish in a short time!


While there’s a lot of focus on college-level programming, Blue House Energy is keenly aware of all those Canadians who work in the industry already, who have finished their school-level education, or who have on-the-job training and experience instead of a college-based education. Not everyone needs that level of education to be successful in their role. But what they do need is continuing education opportunities to keep up with code changes. At Blue House Energy, we’re working hard to find ways to make quality training that is relevant across Canada. The kind that is a good fit for busy schedules, and offers enough depth and background for differing roles and responsibilities.

We’re taking advantage of the benefits of online training to supply the technical background information.

Our mission is to help building professionals improve their service offering and reduce callbacks.

To expand our mission, we're partnering and collaborating with a wide range of organizations in the industry who want to give their members a solid foundation for the future. Some of our partners:

  • Built Green Canada
  • Canadian Association of Consulting Energy Advisors (CACEA)
  • Efficiency Nova Scotia
  • Pacific Home Warranty
  • Progressive Home Warranty
  • National Home Warranty
  • Western Retail Lumber Association

We have a solution and we’re not afraid to use it! 

Book a call with Shawna to chat about your training needs.

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