The federal government has opened a once-in-a-generation window of opportunity for the U.S. to invest billions of dollars into U.S. energy infrastructure, made possible through the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in 2021. This funding will largely be funneled to state and local government leaders, who will design and implement programs that fund a wide range of infrastructure projects – including commercial and residential energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The transformative potential of these infrastructure projects to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency, and lower household energy burden can only be unlocked by addressing workforce challenges – which pose one of the biggest threats to a successful implementation of these funds. The innumerable energy efficiency jobs created by the IIJA must be filled by qualified workers – including home energy auditors and other skilled home performance contractors.
Home energy auditors are a crucial part of the residential and commercial energy efficiency workforce. They perform energy assessments, which involve analyzing a home or commercial facility’s energy bills, detecting sources of energy loss like air leaks, and providing professional recommendations for which efficiency upgrades to prioritize. Energy auditors can save businesses and residents alike between 5-30% on their monthly energy bills while also ensuring health and safety!
Many of the programs created by the IIJA offer state and local governments the flexibility to incorporate workforce development activities into their programs. Other IIJA programs, like the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Auditor Training Grant Program, are specifically designed to fund workforce development activities like recruitment, training, and certification.
DOE Energy Auditor Training Grant Program
DOE’s Energy Auditor Training Grant Program is a $40 million competitive grant that state energy offices can apply for between FY2022 and FY2026. Each state can request a maximum grant amount of $2 million. This program will enable states to provide energy auditor training assistance and build up their energy efficiency workforce.
Who is eligible to receive Energy Auditor Training Grant funds?
It’s important to note that state energy offices are the direct recipients of this federal funding, NOT individual contractors or companies. State energy offices are applying for this funding in early 2023.
Once a state’s competitive application is accepted by DOE, the grant funding they receive will trickle down to the contractors and companies seeking training and certification (and that’s where Everblue comes in!).
For more information about how much money will be allocated to your state, contact your state energy office. Be sure to urge them to apply for the funding. It’s not automatically given out – and with the vast majority of IIJA funding focusing on infrastructure projects and their physical operations, rather than who will actually do the work, it’s absolutely critical that state energy offices take advantage of the Energy Auditor Training grant funds. IIJA programs that fund physical energy efficiency projects, like DOE’s $8.8 billion Home Energy Rebate program, will only succeed if the energy efficiency workforce continues to grow.
How can this funding be used?
The Energy Auditor Training Grant is designed to cover any cost associated with individuals being trained or certified to conduct energy audits in residential homes or commercial buildings, which will save customers money on their energy bills and reduce pollution from building energy use. Funds may also be used to pay the wages of a trainee while they receive training and certification.
Other state considerations:
- The importance of partnerships: Given the multitude of other federal incentives that state energy offices are pursuing – which all require significant time and resources to apply for, standing up new workforce training programs entirely on their own will be impossible. State energy offices applying for Energy Auditor Training Grant funds will need to work closely with workforce development boards, labor unions, education and training providers (like Everblue), apprenticeship intermediaries, and community colleges to assess their workforce training gaps and identify existing programs that could benefit from this new grant funding.
- Equity considerations: The Biden Administration issued a directive, known as the Justice40 Initiative, which directs all federal agencies administering grant funding to ensure that these investments flow to historically disadvantaged communities. State energy offices should be considering how best to reach disadvantaged communities with their Energy Auditor Training grant funds to make the biggest impact.
- Bolstering the home energy auditor workforce in rural areas: We often hear how challenging it is to perform home energy audits and weatherization upgrades in rural areas, given the distance contractors must travel. States should consider focusing some of their Energy Auditor Training Grant funds in rural communities, which has the potential to improve contractor coverage in rural areas and create stable, in-demand energy auditor jobs where they are most needed.
Which home energy auditor certifications will this grant funding help me acquire?
We anticipate a surge in demand for the BPI Building Analyst Certification, which is a nationally recognized home energy auditor certification that can be completed online or in person. This entry-level BPI certification provides a strong foundation for anyone who wants to become a certified home energy auditor. This certification can also be used as a prerequisite to qualify for the more advanced HEP Energy Auditor Certification or the BPI Home Energy Rater/Home Energy Score Assessor credential, which are both certifications recognized by the DOE.
We also expect the RESNET HERS Rater Certification to fall within the acceptable terms of the Energy Auditor Training Grant requirements, as it is also a nationally recognized home energy auditor certification and can also be used as a prerequisite for HEP Energy Auditor and Home Energy Score Assessor.
The Building Performance Institute (BPI) and Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) are competing organizations. Here at Everblue, we provide training and administer the exams for both certifications, so either way, you’re covered! Follow along with an online class or join us for hands-on training at one of our weatherization training center locations nationwide! For more information, give us a call at (800) 460-2575.