WASHINGTON — In March 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy directed the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) to establish a voluntary set of national standards for worker certification and training program accreditation for home energy retrofit technicians. These guidelines are to be published as theWorkforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgradesthat are to become the de facto standards for technicians on all residential energy efficiency projects. The Department’s intention is to require all workers on energy efficiency retrofit projects funded with federal money to be certified to the Workforce Guidelines by an independent, third-party certification body.

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) announced that AHRI and North American Technician Excellence (NATE) have been working closely with DOE and NREL to ensure that the HVACR industry is appropriately represented in the Workforce Guidelines development and the associated certifications. AHRI, NATE, and allied organizations met with DOE staff to express concerns over the process that the Department has followed in developing these guidelines, and also to propose that DOE separate HVACR products from the weatherization certifications to be established, on the basis that HVACR installation and maintenance work is highly specialized and distinct from the weatherization activities on which the guidelines are focused. Accordingly, AHRI and NATE have asked the Department to work with NATE to develop other certifications for the HVACR industry.

DOE has committed to work with AHRI and NATE and the organizations expect further dialogue on next steps.

Publication date: 10/03/2011