A recent U.S. Department of Energy report on jobs and the economy found that 6.4 million Americans work in the energy sector. A large percentage of these new jobs are in renewable energy and efficiency.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines these jobs in the clean energy industry by category of employment, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, pollution reduction and removal, greenhouse gas reduction, recycling and reuse, natural resources conservation, environmental compliance, education and training, and public awareness.
As one of the top building science training centers in the U.S., the National Sustainable Structures Center at Penn College provides building science and energy-efficiency training and technical assistance programs.
According to a report by the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance and Environmental Entrepreneurs, there are almost 70,000 clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania.
“You might think about solar and wind power – but 53,000, or 80 percent, of those jobs are in energy efficiency,” said Alison Diehl, director of the NSSC. “This is great news for energy efficiency, because it has transformative effects on both local and statewide budgets and economies.”
With the mission of providing building science and energy conservation training in the commercial and residential retrofit fields, the NSSC has taught more than 18,000 people building science standards and energy-efficient retrofit techniques since its inception in 1985. The NSSC is the chief training center for Pennsylvania’s Weatherization Assistance Program, as well as a U.S. DOE-recognized Legacy Weatherization Training Center.
The NSSC offers more than 30 courses and workshops that include a combination of classroom learning and hands-on application that are taught in its world-class training lab or in the field. Its training programs include nationally recognized certifications such as Building Operator and Home Energy Professional.
The NSSC is the only training center in Pennsylvania that has achieved Interstate Renewable Energy Council accreditation for all four Home Energy Professional training programs.
Diehl said Penn College offers several degree programs that are geared toward sustainability and increasing energy efficiency in buildings and building systems.
The School of Construction & Design Technologies offers a bachelor’s degree in building science and sustainable design with a concentration in architectural technology or building construction technology.
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning degree program is another path. It covers fuel conservation and alternatives, along with control design, to support reducing the carbon footprint of a structure, Diehl said. The Penn College program provides hands-on knowledge of all aspects of the HVAC industry and has a job placement rate of 95 percent. It is one of only two bachelor’s degree programs in the United States that is geared toward HVAC.
In workforce development, the NSSC offers several nationally recognized professional certifications in the clean energy building sector, including four Home Energy Professional certification training programs (accredited by the IREC), Building Performance Institute certifications and the Building Operator Certification program.
According to Diehl, Building Operator Certification graduates are highly sought in the facilities sector:
“BOC is unique in that it is a certification with benefits that stretch far beyond skill development. While it is a comprehensive training facilities operation, covering almost all systems that an operator will interact with or influence, it goes a step further by teaching energy-efficiency and management strategies that can be immediately implemented,” she said.
“Studies have shown that the average operator who completes the BOC saves over $10,000 a year in energy bills. So while the certification is an amazing way for students to boost their skills and credentials, it’s also an amazing way for employers to lower their energy bills, reduce their environmental impact and support sustainability strategies.”
Learn more about energy-efficiency in the building trades. Visit the website for the National Sustainable Structures Center at Penn College.