News

on Friday, October 28, 2016

WECC has a rich history of providing weatherization services for income qualified residents in Wisconsin. That's why we're excited about these two major milestones:

1. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)! Combined, our Residential Training and Technical Assistance team boasts more than 150 years of WAP experience (through work with WECC and a variety of other agencies across Wisconsin).

2. Sunday, October 30 is National Weatherization Day! WECC is lucky to have a highly-experienced, award-winning weatherization staff. We're extremely proud of our talented team of innovative experts!

Recently, we spoke with some of our most seasoned industry veterans to learn more about their work with WAP and the most important lessons they've learned throughout their weatherization careers.

Adrian Scott

Adrian has been involved with WAP for nearly 29 years. In that time, he says, the most dramatic change has been the shift in focus to building forensics and energy efficiency. “When I started, we would have a handwritten work order and a few tools,” he reflects. “We did the same thing on every house and didn’t think as much about building science. Today, we think a lot more about how to keep the building healthy.”

The crews Adrian worked with during his early years in the field developed many of the standardized methods used today. “As we went along, we learned what worked and what didn’t. We used a lot of trial and error. Now, those things we learned on the job are considered best practices.” 

In the field, most of Adrian’s satisfaction came from a job well done and the knowledge that he was directly helping people. As a trainer, he enjoys knowing that he is contributing to the high-quality work done by weatherization agencies. “I love the moment when a concept suddenly clicks for a student, and I see that lightbulb go on,” he says.

Robert Parkhurst

Robert has worked with WAP for nearly 30 years, during which the improvements in technology have been profound. In particular, he feels that the introduction of the blower door was a game-changer for the program. 

The blower door, which became more prevalent in the 1980s, creates a pressure differential between the interior and exterior of the home. This allows crews to quantify the amount of air movement and locate leaks, sealing homes more effectively.

When asked what advice he would give someone new to the weatherization field, Robert said, “It’s not just a job; it’s a career. Find the good that is coming out of your work, even if you’re doing dirty and grueling labor. Look for the parts that are rewarding.”

For Robert, that reward comes from seeing the positive impact that weatherization has on clients. “There were countless times that we helped an elderly person or a single mother,” he remembers. “Maybe all we did was change a lightbulb, but it made a huge difference in their life, not just their energy bill.”

Bob Pfeiffer

Bob was hired by a weatherization agency in February 1978 as part of President Carter’s Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). At the time, he was just happy to have a job. However, he loved the work right away, and found great satisfaction in a job well done. 

For Bob, the most rewarding part of his long career is having been on the ground floor of innovation. The field of building science, while still young, has grown immensely during his time with WAP. “We started to gain a real understanding of the physics of air and heat. That understanding opened doors into new technologies and serious energy savings.”

One of Bob’s proudest moments was the first time he presented at a national conference. “I was happy to represent our program, but also to meet this entire network of people who do the same work,” he says. “There is a sense of collaborative learning in the industry. There’s no competition, because the new technologies and innovations benefit everybody.”

Cory Chovanec

Cory began his career with WAP 20 years ago as an entry-level crew member. Today, he is a highly-respected expert in the field. “Weatherization is a place where you can advance your career, if you’re willing to put in the effort and take advantage of the trainings available,” Cory says. “Weatherization is a unique field, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunities I’ve had.”

Recently, Cory supported the development of WECC’s Quality Control Inspector Training – the first of WECC’s training programs to be accredited by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Helping students become certified as Quality Control Inspectors—a certification he was one of the first in the nation to earn—has been one of his greatest career accomplishments. 

Cory’s favorite thing about being a trainer is hearing from students how helpful a course was and how much they learned. As an inspector, he is often able to see students’ quality work firsthand. He loves hearing from homeowners how happy they are and how much their energy bills have gone down. “Whether you’re helping a client or a student, you get to provide a service,” he says.

on Monday, October 17, 2016

Earlier this month, the Building Performance Institute (BPI) announced a nationwide launch of the Healthy Home Evaluator (HHE) certification. The certification was developed to help home performance, weatherization, and healthy housing workers detect conditions that may adversely affect occupant health and safety.

WECC is excited to have three staff members—Greg Nahn, Bob Pfeiffer, and Cory Chovanec—already certified as Healthy Home Evaluators. Earlier this year, our building science specialists participated in the pilot phase of BPI’s HHE certification, completing the required training and exam. Professionals must hold BPI Building Analyst (BA), Energy Auditor (EA), or Quality Control Inspector (QCI) certification prior to pursing the HHE. 

"BPI has always focused on health and safety issues such as carbon monoxide and natural gas leaks," said BPI CEO Larry Zarker. "Now with the HHE, we are including a deeper look at home issues that could negatively impact the health and safety of America's families."  HHE certified building science professionals are trained to assess hazards such as asthma triggers from dust, moisture and mold, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), lead-based paint, asbestos, radon, and carbon monoxide leaks, as well as potential fire hazards, trip and fall hazards, and pest management issues.

WECC is proud to be at the forefront of this initiative, and we look forward to utilizing our HHE certification in home performance assessments!

Visit BPI’s website to learn how to obtain certification. 

on Monday, October 3, 2016

Energy Awareness Month was established in 1991 as a national effort to spread awareness of energy issues, show the positive impact of energy efficiency, and underscore the importance of sustainably managing our energy resources.
  
To celebrate Energy Awareness Month, WECC staff shared some of the ways they save energy at home and at work. We’ve compiled these tips and tricks below, and encourage you to incorporate some or all of these into your daily routine!

Lighting:
• Use LED or CFL bulbs in as many fixtures as possible.
• Keep unnecessary lights turned off as much as possible. As a bonus, the right type and timing of lighting can also have mood and health benefits!
• When remodeling or building a home, consider changing out standard light switches for dimmer switches.

Heating and Cooling:
• In the fall/winter, set your home’s temperature to be cooler at night (and also when away from home).
• Keep your garage door closed to block out winter winds.
• Close the doors and vents to any unused rooms to avoid heating or cooling unneeded space.
• Consider purchasing ENERGY STAR® HVAC equipment. A guide to finding certified products can be found here.

Transportation, Shopping, and Public Places:
• Consider driving an electric or eco-friendly vehicle.
• Save energy and get some exercise by walking or biking to work or to run errands.
• Always bring reusable cloth bags to the grocery store. By leaving them in your car between shopping trips, you’ll avoid forgetting them at home!
• Combine errands into one trip whenever possible, cutting down on fuel usage.
• Try to purchase locally-grown food as often as you can to sustain the community in which you live.
• Automatic doors use energy to open for us. When entering or exiting buildings with automatic doors, consider using the manual doors instead.

Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling:
• Keep a small recycling bin in the bathroom for toilet paper rolls or empty shampoo bottles. This prevents people from throwing these items into the trash out of convenience.
• Use empty baby wipe containers to hold small items like crayons or Legos.
• Shoe boxes work well for wrapping holiday or birthday gifts. Even better, use old newspaper as stuffing.
• When hosting parties, use washable dinnerware instead of paper or plastic products.

Stay tuned for additional energy saving tips and information throughout the month. Remember, even small changes can add up to big savings!

on Thursday, July 28, 2016

WECC is excited to serve as the new implementer of Spencer Municipal Utilities' Iowa Be Bright residential lighting program. Launched on July 1, Iowa Be Bright provides instant rebates toward the purchase of a variety of high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® LED bulbs at select retail stores throughout Clay County.

Spencer Municipal Utilities is the community-owned provider of electric power, water, and telecommunications to Spencer, Iowa. The utility, founded in 1942, serves more than 6,000 customers throughout the greater City of Spencer.
 
WECC currently implements the Iowa Be Bright program in a number of other markets across the state. In 2015, point-of-purchase advertising, educational materials, and promotional events helped drive customers of participating utilities to purchase more than 2 million CFLs and nearly 565,000 LED bulbs—totaling 100,000 megawatt-hours in energy savings.

on Thursday, July 14, 2016

WECC was recently chosen to implement a residential lighting program for Freeborn Mower Cooperative Services in Southeastern Minnesota! Launched on June 1, the program—branded "Be Bright"—provides instant rebates toward the purchase of high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® CFL and LED bulbs at select retail stores throughout Freeborn and Mower Counties.

Founded in 1936, Freeborn Mower Cooperative Services is a member-owned electric provider serving more than 18,000 members.

on Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dan Streit, program manager at WECC, was recently certified as a Greenhouse Gas Inventory Quantifier (GHG-IQ). This certification assesses professionals in the field of greenhouse gas inventory development and calculation, and is designed for international applicability.

Streit’s GHG-IQ certification enables him to calculate carbon footprints of both direct and indirect emissions, adding credibility to WECC’s Environmental Sustainability Services—while also demonstrating Dan’s personal commitment to sustainability.

Congratulations, Dan!