Massachusetts Contractor Energy Efficiency "Boot Camp"
Rising to the Challenge of a Weatherization Workforce Overhaul
Clients: Coalition of Program Administrators comprised of the utilities
National Grid, NSTAR, Western Massachusetts Electric, New England Gas, Berkshire
Gas, Bay State Gas, Blackstone Gas, Unitil and the municipal aggregator Cape Light
Massachusetts utilitiy companies had to cope with unprecedented legislative mandates to:
- Deliver vastly scaled-up energy efficiency initiatives
- Create green jobs with state and federal funds for training
- Decrease greenhouse gas emissions
The statewide policies remade Massachusetts' electricity marketplace, with efficiency now a higher priority. A coalition of leading energy efficiency providers — “Program Administrators” — crafted a three-year plan to deliver services to net more than $4 billion in energy savings. To accomplish this extraordinary goal, a workforce overhaul was required.
- In their published plan, the Program Administrators recognized that "additional workforce must be trained and deployed to effectively deliver the programs. This is not an insignificant barrier.”
- The Federal Recovery Act, in parallel with multiple state-level initiatives, infused tens of millions in stimulus dollars for weatherization efforts and required additional contractors and crews for implementation.
- Training infrastructure had to rapidly expand to reinforce commitment of existing program
contractors while bringing new ones on board.
Conservation Services Group’s ROLE
CSG was selected to design, develop, and execute the first phase of the energy efficiency training program dubbed the “Weatherization Worker Boot Camp.”
On behalf of the Program Administrators, CSG led the process to establish an education and training center in Fitchburg, MA and worked in collaboration with the:
- Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
- Low Income Energy Affordability Network
- Center for Ecological Technology
In the hands-on classroom environment, contractors were trained in the proper techniques of air sealing and insulation installation. After attendees demonstrated competence at the required skills, they received an "authorization to participate" as a contractor or crew member in utility funded programs.
- An interim solution for unprecedented weatherization workforce development
- Operated until the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center trainings launched
- Program Administrators provided subsidies for attendance fees
- Sponsor goals were met within a few short months
- 47 percent increase in trained contractors within 3 months
- 141 contractors gained crucial new skills within 3 months
Strategy & goals
Conservation Service Group's team quickly secured a facility and developed curricula for four separate classes including: basic and crew chief levels for both air sealing and insulation techniques, plus health and safety related topics.
CSG also developed an initial three-month schedule, subsequently doubled with an additional three months of training. The strategy also included:
- Constructing twelve learning stations for hands-on training
- Building props for students to practice five types of air sealing
- Recruiting trainers and enrolling participants
CSG also partnered with the Center for EcoTechnology to develop
curriculum for of the Mass Green Initiative. This statewide effort led by
Springfield Technical Community College brought together all community colleges
in Massachusetts by providing a comprehensive training course to introduce students
to the theory and skills needed to work in the residential weatherization industry.
Conservation Service Group successfully jumpstarted key trainings to supply the quantity and quality of workers needed to reach ambitious energy efficiency goals for Massachusetts.
Through this initiative and other CSG is:
- Providing improved business opportunities for contractors
- Defining new career paths in clean energy for workers
- Helping to improve the local economy during an economic downturn
Classes were filled to capacity.
Shannon Meserole, Training Manager