Discussion 8 – Training and Certification (Improving Buildings)



Training and Certification

To help ensure the quality of retrofits in British Columbia, the province is considering working with industry to expand training opportunities and establish an accreditation for Certified Retrofit Professionals.

This would both increase our capacity for clean growth and enhance consumer confidence in retrofits. It would cover key trades and services, including professionals in heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as windows and insulation.

The province is also considering expanding Energy Step Code (ESC) training efforts and helping local governments adopt the ESC. Training would favour hands-on activities and would be targeted to key roles such as the construction trades, energy modellers and building inspectors.

Question:

  • What gaps are there in current training opportunities to support the retrofit and construction industry in shifting to high performance buildings?

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26 responses to “Discussion 8 – Training and Certification (Improving Buildings)

    User avatar
    [-] Gary

    I want to see the following:
    1) A permanent, independent, science-based watchdog that will advise the government on how to
    achieve its targets, and monitor its progress;
    2) 5-year carbon budgets (targets that lay out the maximum tonnes of GHGs that we can afford to emit
    in order to meet our targets, which are helpful for planning purposes);
    3) A legal requirement of government to develop a plan on how to achieve the carbon budgets;
    4) Legal requirements to ensure that government decisions under the Environmental Assessment Act
    and the Environmental Management Act are consistent with achieving future carbon budgets;
    5) Meaningful public reporting on progress towards achieving the carbon budgets.

    Government also needs to look at the reality of methane gas emissions from LNG extracting natural gas. Methane ought to be addressed by BC government in considering reductions of national greenhouse-gas inventories.

    I believe BC’s government should not give out any more LNG permits. Put taxpayer money towards implementing renewable energy sources, for goodness sake!
    Also make sure that the Transmountain Pipeline expansion project is not allowed to proceed!

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    [-] Anne

    I want to see the following:
    1) A permanent, independent, science-based watchdog that will advise the government on how to
    achieve its targets, and monitor its progress;
    2) 5-year carbon budgets (targets that lay out the maximum tonnes of GHGs that we can afford to emit
    in order to meet our targets, which are helpful for planning purposes);
    3) A legal requirement of government to develop a plan on how to achieve the carbon budgets;
    4) Legal requirements to ensure that government decisions under the Environmental Assessment Act
    and the Environmental Management Act are consistent with achieving future carbon budgets;
    5) Meaningful public reporting on progress towards achieving the carbon budgets.

    Government also needs to look at the reality of methane gas emissions from LNG extracting natural gas. Methane ought to be addressed by BC government in considering reductions of national greenhouse-gas inventories.

    I believe BC’s government should not give out any more LNG permits. Put taxpayer money towards implementing renewable energy sources, for goodness sake!
    Also make sure that the Transmountain Pipeline expansion project is not allowed to proceed!

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    [-] Erin

    This government (in previous discussions) favours a gradual approach to implementing the ESC that is far too slow to make a significant impact on climate change. While it is possible to decrease the time between gradual steps, jumping straight to Passive House standard by 2022 would require professionals, suppliers, and contractors to go through a single round of training instead of new requirements each 2-5 years.

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    [-] Cathy

    Training and certification have to be done by government authorities, not by private industry with a stake in the outcome.

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    [-] Applied

    Our association, which represents applied science and engineering technology technologists, technicians and technical specialists supports and applauds the government’s move to adopt Energy Step Code requirements. These initiatives will continue to allow BC to signal to Canada and others that we are choosing to lead the push to innovate cleaner, more efficient buildings and transportation.

    There needs to be a focus on engaging qualified individuals, trained in the subject matter who are competent to ensure retrofit work is done in compliance to Energy Step Code requirements, along with any other clean energy regulations affecting the building and transportation sectors.

    Engineering technologists, technicians and technical specialists are found in virtually every sector. There is a need to fully recognize their abilities and competencies to help with the demand for skilled labour.

    An area of need for review will be BC’s post-secondary educational system including both polytechnic, technical institutions and universities to be able to come up with adequate training to support this industry. Again, there will be a need to delineate areas of responsibility for all those involved, have the expectation that these individuals are registered and certified to meet high standards of practice.

    These being established, there needs to also be a coordinated effort among industry to work together to provide continuing professional development for those in industry performing this work.

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    [-] Paul

    10 years ago I did a major renovation of my house. I had to ask my contractor to research what I could do to improve the energy efficiency of the house during the renovation. Fortunately he did so and came up with some excellent ideas. But homeowners should not have to ask contractors for this information. Hopefully things have improved, but all contractors on buildings should be aware of things like electric heat pumps and suggest them themselves. So I think we need more training in this area.

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    [-] peter

    Gaps exist in the design community as well as among suppliers, vendors distributors and contractors. Operations staff also lack training to use the new systems.

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    [-] BCIT

    The province of BC is in the process of transforming its construction industry towards a future of extremely energy efficient buildings. The BC Energy Step Code, adopted in April 2017, establishes a clear set of performance-based standards that will ensure all new buildings are able to operate with zero energy input by 2032.

    To achieve this ambitious goal, the way buildings are designed and built will need to change. Described as the “Envelope First” approach, building design will focus on thick, well insulated, airtight walls, while building construction will focus on craftsmanship, teamwork and attention to detail.
    Tradespeople will be instrumental in supporting this transition. To ensure performance requirements are met, tradespeople will not only need to learn how to build to the new standards; more than ever, tradespeople will also need to understand the scientific principles behind the design and construction of high performance buildings.

    As the largest trades training institution in BC, BCIT sees significant opportunities to support the construction industry as it shifts towards the Energy Step Code, through a focus on hands-on trades training centred around the core scientific principles of high performance buildings.

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    [-] Dr.

    We need more instructors who are trained in Passive House design (or systems similar in scope and intent) and more opportunities for builders to learn these skills in local regions. Some of my closest friends are builders who had to travel long distances to take workshops and seminars on Passive House design.

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    [-] Monte

    Identifying “gaps” is difficult, because there are virtually no training opportunities for retrofit and construction industries in shift to high-performance buildings.

    BC must invest in designing a serious curriculum for both trade and non-trade constuction workers. This curriculum needs to be modular (many one-day chunks) and needs to be delivered in communities of all sizes across the province.

    With due respect to organizations such as BCIT or Passive House Canada, neither are delivering worker training that meets the needs of workers. This needs a deep rethink of needs, a new open-source curriculum, a province-wide train-the-trainer effort, and a sustained multi-year delivery program.

    Perhaps a reasonable curriculum goal would be a series of one-day modules on key topics, for a total of perhaps ten one-day modules.

    Perhaps a reasonable trainer goal would be to train 25 to 50 trainers capable of delivering all or most modules.

    Perhaps a reasonable delivery goal would be to train 10 percent of BC construction worker a year (doing at least five modules in first year) each year for ten years. Goal to have 80-90 percent trained after 10 years, with all doing continuing education after first year.

    Without something on this general scale, the efforts at building retrofitting and affordable high-performance construction will likely fail.

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    [-] Louise

    All gaps in skill and knowledge related to building for best use of renewable energies and materials should be addressed, and the acquisition of skills and knowledge required to meet resulting amended standards should be a mandatory response to urgent need. We should move directly to the most advanced standards and building techniques used in European countries, incentivizing use of renewables and withdrawing incentives from non-renewables.

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    [-] BCIT

    The province of BC is in the process of transforming its construction industry towards a future of extremely energy efficient buildings. The BC Energy Step Code, adopted in April 2017, establishes a clear set of performance-based standards that will ensure all new buildings are able to operate with zero energy input by 2032.

    To achieve this ambitious goal, the way buildings are designed and built will need to change. Described as the “Envelope First” approach, building design will focus on thick, well insulated, airtight walls, while building construction will focus on craftsmanship, teamwork and attention to detail. Tradespeople will be instrumental in supporting this transition. To ensure performance requirements are met, tradespeople will not only need to learn how to build to the new standards; more than ever, tradespeople will also need to understand the scientific principles behind the design and construction of high performance buildings.

    As the largest trades training institution in BC, BCIT’s School of Construction and the Environment (SoCE) has created the Learning Centre for Zero Energy Buildings (LCZEB). The LCZEB combines traditional and non-traditional educational programs which, aimed primarily at tradespeople, have been designed to maximize support to BC’s construction industry in shifting towards new and retrofit high performance buildings. These programs include:
    – The creation of the High Performance Building Lab (HPBL) – a new hands-on training centre with innovative teaching facilities including display cut-away assemblies, practice walls, an airtightness teaching house, new HRV installations for testing, and a lecture area;
    – A suite of courses tailored to busy construction professionals allowing enhancement of one’s toolbox with the knowledge and skills to build to the BC Energy Step Code;
    – Educational and instructional videos highlighting industry best practices in the context of the core scientific principles of high performance buildings;
    – Mobile classroom facilities designed for offsite training in communities across the province, including remote First Nation communities;
    – Interactive exhibits intended to increase awareness of high performance building science and construction with the general public;
    – Demonstration building retrofit projects (on and off-campus) to showcase best practices.

    Overall, BCIT sees significant opportunities to support the construction industry as it shifts towards the Energy Step Code, through a focus on hands-on trades training centred around the core scientific principles of high performance buildings.

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    [-] BCIT

    The province of BC is in the process of transforming its construction industry towards a future of extremely energy efficient buildings. The BC Energy Step Code, adopted in April 2017, establishes a clear set of performance-based standards that will ensure all new buildings are able to operate with zero energy input by 2032.

    To achieve this ambitious goal, the way buildings are designed and built will need to change. Described as the “Envelope First” approach, building design will focus on thick, well insulated, airtight walls, while building construction will focus on craftsmanship, teamwork and attention to detail. Tradespeople will be instrumental in supporting this transition. To ensure performance requirements are met, tradespeople will not only need to learn how to build to the new standards; more than ever, tradespeople will also need to understand the scientific principles behind the design and construction of high performance buildings.

    As the largest trades training institution in BC, BCIT’s School of Construction and the Environment (SoCE) has created the Learning Centre for Zero Energy Buildings (LCZEB). The LCZEB combines traditional and non-traditional educational programs which, aimed primarily at tradespeople, have been designed to maximize support to BC’s construction industry in shifting towards new and retrofit high performance buildings.

    These programs include:
    – The creation of the High Performance Building Lab (HPBL) – a new hands-on training centre with innovative teaching facilities including display cut-away assemblies, practice walls, an airtightness teaching house, new HRV installations for testing, and a lecture area;
    – A suite of courses tailored to busy construction professionals allowing enhancement of one’s toolbox with the knowledge and skills to build to the BC Energy Step Code;
    – Educational and instructional videos highlighting industry best practices in the context of the core scientific principles of high performance buildings;
    – Mobile classroom facilities designed for offsite training in communities across the province, including remote First Nation communities;
    – Interactive exhibits intended to increase awareness of high performance building science and construction with the general public;
    – Demonstration building retrofit projects (on and off-campus) to showcase best practices.

    Overall, BCIT sees significant opportunities to support the construction industry as it shifts towards the Energy Step Code, through a focus on hands-on trades training centred around the core scientific principles of high performance buildings.

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    [-] Jennell

    A significant gap in the training of people — and the entire discussion of “Clean Growth” — is the impact of residential wood heat on the environment and people’s health. It is invisible in any discussion, and I suspect training, related to energy efficiency or clean fuels.

    Yet in a national inventory of black carbon, the data shows that residential wood heating accounts for an astounding 33% of Canada’s total black carbon emissions in 2016 (see text under “2016 black carbon report results” https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/pollutants/black-carbon-emissions-inventory.html). This is second only to diesel vehicles.

    Wood heat also produces huge amounts of harmful fine particulates that are responsible to winter air advisories in multiple BC communities every year.

    Accordingly, training should include information on:
    – the risks of installing a wood stove to both indoor and outdoor air quality.
    – the contribution of wood heat to black carbon, a known climate change agent.
    – the myth that wood burning is “carbon neutral”.
    – economic and social benefits of heat pumps compared to wood burning appliances.

    There is also a need for training on how to effectively test indoor air quality. A few months ago, I was at a talk by an Energy Advisor about the Step Program. She noted that in homes with a wood stove, she tested for indoor air quality when that stove was running. However, a single test, likely done during the day, is not adequate as:
    1. The venting conditions during the day are often much better than the evening in some locations. The smoke will disperse very differently based on local conditions.
    2. Daytime testing is far less likely to be impacted by smoke from neighbouring homes. In older neighbourhoods this is particularly important.

    For example, I know people who built a modern, energy efficient home, with a Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system, in an older neighbourhood on Vancouver Island. After 10 years of very poor respiratory health for one resident, including multiple visits to the doctor and hospital, and a seasonal need for medications, they decided to turn off their HRV in the winters and run a single air purifier on their upper floor near their bedroom. The individual’s health improved dramatically, allowing him to ski competitively again and put aside his puffer. Their home did not have a wood stove; but many in their neighbourhood did.

    Training, therefore, should also cover the dangers posed by mechanical ventilation when outdoor air quality is poor and importance of testing for fine particulate matter during poor air venting times of day/night.

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    [-] Donald

    Cancel Site-C!
    Covering all power generating reservoirs with floating solar panels, will save water two ways. It will prevent evaporation, and let us leave water behind the dam, while the sun shines. Bonus, the transmission lines are already in place. We could then double the generating capacity at those dams (by adding more penstocks, and turbines), to produce energy for export, without running our of water, because the solar power would halve the time they’d need to run. Would cost less than site-C, and would flood zero farmland.

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    [-] Laurie

    JUST DO IT! And a whole lot more!

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    [-] Pembina

    We support the Provinces’ intention to work with industry associations, unions, and educational institutions to improve training and certification in the building sector. Certification and quality control will help ensure that installations are done properly, performance targets are met, and buildings are operating as intended. Some key areas where our research has shown that more capacity and quality control are needed are discussed below.
    Residential HVAC Systems
    A well-designed and properly installed HVAC system is key to ensuring proper ventilation and air quality, safety, and energy performance in buildings. However, despite its importance, the residential HVAC installation market in particular remains poorly regulated. While a ticketed tradesman might be required to perform a gas or electrical hookup, no training requirements are required to design, sell, or supply a residential HVAC system.
    High Performance Envelopes
    Training and certification programs should be expanded to other building sector occupations, including the multiple trades that are involved with the construction of high-performance and airtight building envelopes. This is a key component of highly energy efficient construction, and will become increasingly prevalent as the BC Energy Step Code is adopted.
    Some of our recommendations in this area are:
    Work with the federal government to create new trade accreditation programs for HVAC systems, for example through Red Seal certification for individuals or ACCA Residential Service & Installation (RSI) certification for companies.
    Partner with industry groups to encourage the use of Quality Installation (QI) standards for HVAC systems, such as the ACCA 5 Standard.
    Expand and support training in energy efficient envelope construction, such as that being delivered by BCIT through the High Performance Building Lab.
    For the Pembina Institute’s full submission, see: http://www.pembina.org/pub/bc-clean-growth-intentions

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    [-] Casey

    The Victoria Residential Builders Association supports education and training. Presently, there is no mandatory building envelope training required in BC, despite the fact that the province has implemented higher energy efficient buildings via Step Code. As for Certified Retrofit Professional accreditation, how do you plan to deliver this program? Whatever is planned, it must be effective, efficient and affordable & available for delivery by organizations like VRBA & education organizations like Murray Frank (Building It Right), Built Green, etc.

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    [-] Ian

    There is a big gap around operating and maintaining buildings…..

    There is a big and under-realized opportunity to save energy through better building operation and maintenance. In many cases, there is the opportunity to save 5-30 % through good O&M. Here are a few links;

    https://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/pdfs/OM_7.pdf
    https://www.facilitiesnet.com/hvac/article/HVAC-Maintenance-and-Energy-Savings-Facilities-Management-HVAC-Feature–10680

    The BC government should work with universities, colleges, and local associations to support training in these areas!

    Another current trend is more complicated buildings, which require better trained staff and in some cases very high skilled workers. These people’s salaries are higher, which eats into the bottom line of rental housing providers, who may reduce maintenance or cut corners to reduce operating costs.

    It is important that this plan focuses on building systems that are low cost to install, low maintenance, and decrease energy costs/carbon pollution.

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    [-] Robert

    Align with broader international or at least North American certification programs. Promote Passive House International certification and training at all levels. Make some of these credentials obligatory in public-sector RFPs. More training on hydronic installation, air-source heat pump systems, and construction techniques for improved airtightness (including lots of videos).

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    [-] Glenn

    1) Bring in new building code requirements to meet ‘Passive House’ (PH) standards by 2022 and provide retraining for builders, engineers and developers in PH as well as update training at high schools and trade schools to include PH principles and practices.
    2) Develop retrofit techniques that are cost effective and include training (including online videos) for builders to get certified in the new techniques.

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    [-] John

    I agree with all the comments made below.
    I would add that anyone dealing with a building envelope in any way including framing, insulating, drywalling, cladding, plumbing should be certified for the job. Certification should include basic physics of building envelopes, heat bridging, air tightness, etc.

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    [-] Jonathan

    We desperately need to engage certain trades… Mechanical and Electrical are not too bad as they need to re-train to keep their tickets.
    Where we fall short is re-training and updating drywallers, siding crews and any trades that work with the external envelope as they do not understand the impact of penetrating the external envelope from an air sealing persepctive.

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    [-] Erich

    Make more training available for those going into the trades that apply to clean energy. Examples would include solar electricians or solar technicians, windmill assembly, tidal technology builders (and researchers/engineers), and ZEV mechanics/charging station techs. Make these trades cheap to get into and easily accessible to get people on board with these energy options by providing sustainable jobs in those fields.

    Driving ZEVs are great and the charging network is growing, but if we can’t easily find people to fix them, that will be another barrier to full transition. We will also stay reliant on fossil fuels and have societal division around fossil fuels unless we can provide alternative jobs/careers for those currently reliant on the industry for work. We need to bring those workers over to these greener careers by making the training tempting and worthwhile for them.

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    [-] Remi

    Certified Retrofit Professionals should focus on energy and maybe be called something like Certified Energy Retrofit Professionals. They should have the building science knowledge to develop a plan. However, it is probably more of a role where they do the modelling, and manage the retrofit project by hiring contractors to do specific tasks. They are responsible for the planning and project management. This would still require more training for the actual trades people. You can have certification process for different trades (HVAC, window installers, roofing, insulation) where they have done training to understand best practices. This would make it easier for the overall project manager to select contractors.

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    [-] Neil

    A Retrofit Professional is a great idea – I think there needs to be greater understanding of the building as a system, and how to prioritize retrofits to maximize energy savings (i.e. no point in reinsulating a wall if you have leaky single pane windows).

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