Rick notes that there are some changes and improvements -- most sound positive, clarification and simplification of procedures and protocols. There's a nice set of definitions to take the guesswork out of your day.
Also a recommendation to take the standard with you in your toolkit. When I was doing blower door tests as my main gig, I had the Canadian version of this with me. Helpful for those goofy challenges.
If you are a new builder/vendor who registered with Tarion after September 2015, your registration renewal is based on proving you have completed competency training in 7 areas. If you haven't started on this educational process, your time is running out! The competencies must be achieved by their annual renewal date.
For anyone contemplating becoming a new builder/vendor, you need to know that, as of September 1, 2016, achieving these competencies will be a pre-requisite for registration. The educational requirements are based on the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s National Education Benchmarks for residential construction.
If you are required to prove the competencies, here are Tarion's recognized training providers:
There are limited times and seats for OHBA and BuildABILITY courses, so check out their schedules today so you can get registered. TrainingOntario offers on-demand online training that fits into your schedule, with an in-person exam hosted by Algonquin College that you can schedule at several locations.
All of the courses offered will take you between 3 and 5 days of time/effort to complete, whether you're in class or learning on line. If you are required to complete all seven educational competencies, that adds up to 21 to 35 days!!!
Builders need to be good on the tools. But they also need to know about construction technology and building science, building codes, have a certain level of business savvy, know about project management, the legal issues that affect their business, and they also need to cultivate mad customer service skillz.
Training Ontario offers a suite of 7 courses that cover all of these areas. Blue House Energy and PHBI provide the content for these courses, which qualify for Tarion's competency training requirements, and Algonquin College provides the assessment (final exam).
As of October 2015, the HPO beefed up the licensing process for builders. New applicants must meet certain competency requirements and existing builders will have to hit a level of continuing professional development (CPD) credits to maintain their good standing. The new requirements are being phased in over a 15 month period.
CHBA has created a Net Zero Energy (NZE) label for builders and renovators who are stepping up their game to NZE levels.
To make it happen, you need training, right? But training costs $$ to develop and deliver. So 3 of the CHBA NZE Housing Council sponsor members (Owens Corning, Dettson and Jeld-Wen) provided funding for the delivery of a number one-day NZE Builder Training sessions.
The CHBA NZE Builder Training is mandatory for participation in the CHBA NZE Labelling Program and can only be delivered through the CHBA NZE Qualified Service Organizations by CHBA NZE Qualified Trainers. Builders must also complete NRCan R-2000 Builder Training.
So here's the schedule:
Vancouver, April 5 Kelowna, April 8 Toronto, April 12 Fredericton, April 18 Halifax, April 22
For those that need it, R2000 training is provided the day before the NZE training.
Job Task Analysis can be a formidable challenge. It’s about breaking down a job into tasks and then analyzing them. How do you best say what a job does? There needs to be method, or it ends up in madness.
Here’s a simplified version of the process for ‘just in time’ or ‘on the job’ training
One of the best ways to methodically say what the job does is to use a process called Job Task Analysis (JTA). Job Task Analysis (JTA) is not only used to create a training program, but it is also used to create accurate and valid job descriptions. Because JTA defines the required knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) for job performance, it is often the basis of a checklist of mandatory demonstrated requirements for recruiting.
Competency-based training is learner‑focused, and lends itself to independent study, allowing learners to study at their own pace, reviewing or practising challenging learning outcomes as they need, and moving quickly through the competencies in which they are more adept. In an earlier post, the four levels of complexity were outlined. These levels measure the student’s depth of knowledge.
Competency-Based Training is a way to teach concrete skills. Every individual skill or learning outcome (the competency), while part of a larger educational or training goal, is a single learning unit, to be worked on one at a time. The level of competency is determined by the organization requiring the training, and the learner is evaluated on each competency. Learning modules can be skipped if the learner can prove -- through prior learning assessment (PLAR) or challenging a test -- that they have already mastered the competency level required.
Competency-based training is learner‑focused, and lends itself to independent study, allowing learners to study at their own pace, reviewing or practising challenging learning outcomes as they need, and moving quickly through the competencies in which they are more adept.
As competency-based training requires mastery of each learning outcome or skill, it is well suited to business and corporate training, where many skills and abilities need to be assessed separately. Most other learning methods use ‘summative’ testing – meaning that a student who has 80% in an evaluation that covers many subjects may have an 80% mastery of all learning outcomes or may have no mastery at all of 20% of the learning outcomes. Summative testing allows the student to move on to higher learning while missing some abilities that will be crucial to that higher learning.
‘Mastery’ of a competency depends on the depth of knowledge required of the learner. In the model followed by Blue House Energy and PHBI for the trainingOntario program developed for Tarion, the depth of knowledge is broken out into four distinct levels:
Level 1: Recall/Reproduction
The learner can recall a fact, information or procedure, process information on a basic level. (Key terms = know/remember, comprehend/understand)
Level 2: Skill/Concept
The learner can use information or conceptual knowledge to execute and implement procedures to complete a task. (Key terms = apply)
Level 3: Strategic Thinking
The learner can use reasoning to develop a plan or sequence of steps with some complexity. (Key terms = analyze, evaluate)
Level 4: Extended Thinking
The learner can investigate, think through and process multiple conditions of the problem. (Key terms: synthesize, evaluate)
Meet trainingOntario: a recognized provider of training for Tarion, Ontario’s New Home Warranty administrator.
trainingOntario is a collaboration between Blue House Energy, and the Professional Home Builders Institute (PHBI). We have pooled our expertise and know-how to deliver a full suite of on-demand courses for Tarion registrants.
As of September 2015, Tarion registrants -- anyone who wants to build or sell a new house in Ontario -- must complete a series of educational competencies. The goal is to improve the industry capacity (Yay! Our favourite thing!) and in doing so, reduce Warranty claims.
Blue House Energy and PHBI were recognized by Tarion separately as eligible training providers, but we realized quickly that by working together and pooling our subject matter experts, educational design expertise and online learning smarts, we could create a fantastic package that includes online training in all of Tarion's mandatory competencies. So that's what we've done.
The Suite of Courses for Builders
The Suite of Courses for Vendors
Legal Issues in Housing
Legal Issues in Housing
Like all of our training, the courses in the trainingOntario suite are easy to access and fit into a busy schedule.
Once a course is complete, a proctored assessment (final exam) is booked through Algonquin College at one of their testing locations throughout the province.
Here's an article that was just published in Home Energy Magazine (July/August 2015). To read the whole article, you must have an online subscription. It's about a very cool project that our colleagues Jennifer Corson and Keith Robertson at Solterre Design designed and built to test drive a range of assemblies, design principles and mechanical system options for very low-energy, off-grid housing in Lunenburg County. The LEED Platinum, Passive House certified final product is a success on all fronts. Check out Solterre's impressive body of work.
Jennifer and Keith (and their two kids) also just returned from a 3-month stay in Ghana, where they worked on a rammed earth library. Very cool story, and very cool people. Here's a local news story about their Ghana adventures.
Spring Training won this year. Last year, I went to ACI National in Detroit (I know, I know, Detroit yes, NOLA no?). This year, I went to Spring Training with the Canadian Building Science crew outside Huntsville, ON (I know, I know rural Ontario vs. NOLA in Spring? What?). The fact of the matter being I have not had chance to connect with my people for years. And there we were, 120 of the most intense B.S. wonks, nerds, and geeks. Hosted by Tex McLeod, Gord Cooke, and John Straube, with pithy interjections from Oliver Drerup, the mainly Ontario crowd was infiltrated by a small East Coast contingent, as well as some folks from the West. It was a great two and a half days, jammed with good sessions and no opportunity to get away from the crowd. The first day's sessions were focussed on Net Zero Energy homes, with Sam Rashkin doing the honours as keynote speaker, and a panel of builders from across the country talking about their experience in building and selling NZE homes. Second day's sessions were all about tall wood buildings -- not so much relevance to what we do at BHE or through Bfreehomes, but still interesting and definitely cutting edge stuff. I mean, 10 and 18 storey wood structures? Come on -- that's impressive.
Gail Lawlor (Energy Matters) and I did a quick presentation on BPI Canada -- a site-based quality assurance program that we are aiming to launch after several years of it being a Good Idea. More on that project and the Spring Training Sessions in upcoming articles.
Still, I'll be missing all my US cronies and pals who ramp up ACI -- or HPC as it is now known -- in NOLA today.
Shout out to the Zymurgologists on both sides of the border.
There's a lot of times when face-to-face training is the only thing that will do. Especially in the home performance industry: hands-on is the only way you can really learn to identify and diagnose energy-sucking and moisture-growing situations in a house. But to understand what you need to identify and diagnose, you need to have a good grasp of background concepts and physics, and how they impact the performance of the house.
Everything that happens in a house is caused by things you can't see and you can't hold: heat flow, air flow, moisture flow, neutral pressure plane. It can be a challenge to teach these concepts, especially to folks who are hands-on learners. Which, not surprisingly, is a high percentage of people who work with their hands.
Blended learning has been a staple of this industry's training: classroom time is mixed with field time in almost all programs. But classroom time is very expensive, to both the provider and the participant. And participants come to a course with a wide range of experience and existing understanding, not to mention differences in learning styles. Adding an online component to that blended learning package can help reduce stress in several ways.
Check out our white paper on blended learning here.
If you work in home construction and renovation, you know about energy efficiency measures. But do you really know it?
If you’re trying to figure out if you need this course or not, take a shot at answering these questions:
What happens to the neutral pressure plane when you air seal the basement headers but don’t do anything else to the house? And why should you care?
What about combustion spillage? How do you tell when it’s an issue in a house, and how do you solve it?
What's important about knowing where the dewpoint is?
If you don't know how to answer them, then you need some training.
It’s costly to take courses.
If you take a day off work, it’ll cost you.
If you register for a day-long workshop, it’ll cost you.
If you have to travel to get that training, it’ll cost you.
And face it, if you are out somewhere, you’re likely to buy lunch if it’s not supplied, and then after, maybe you and your workshop compatriots are off for a beer. It’ll cost you.
And you’ll be stuck in a classroom. All. Day.
Online training doesn’t take the place of hands-on learning. It builds on your experience so that you can do a better job.
So check BHE training out. There’s still a little pain, because we need to make some money and you need to give up some time. But it’s not so bad. Promise.
We give you the animated goods on house-as-a-system, indoor air quality and ventilation requirements, and you learn at your own pace in your sweats.
In a marathon 3 to 4 hour session or in 10 to 15 minute chunks. Totally digestible while snacking.
This is basic training for any energy efficient building program or certification, so you’ll have a good solid start on any future training you do. It's also good for continuing education units (ask us about this, some of our resellers have better regional CEU options than we do).
In the end, you pass a test (no trick questions, all multiple choice or T/F answers) and we give you a certificate of knowledge, which you can use as a proof of learning, that you understand how you’re affecting a house when you carry out air sealing work or add insulation.
And then you can treat yourself to lunch and that beer. ‘Cause you earned it, buckaroo.
We’re very excited about the interest in our Training Partner program that we launched in January 2015!
We’re now supplying online training in building science to two very different organizations: a non-profit green building certification organization in Michigan and a home performance training center in California. We’re also talking with face-to-face trainers who supply training to remote communities with no internet connection (delivered via iPad and local LAN), and several more regional trainers who want to streamline their offering. They all have very different training programs and approaches, but we’re mighty flexible.
GreenHome Institute, based in Michigan, was formerly The Alliance for Environmental Sustainability (AES). GHI’s mission is to empower people to make healthier and more sustainable choices in renovation and construction. Building Science Basics is now the starting point for the GreenHome Professional certification, which gives people a way to further distinguish themselves as a residential green building experts.
The comments from the first person through the training with GHI gave us serious permagrin:
“I have passed the Blue House Energy course, that was really cool. I think everyone should go through that training. More importantly I would like to bring my employee, that way EVERY SINGLE person in my company will be qualified.”
BHE courses, when taken through GHI, are eligible for continuing education units (CEU) from organizations including: BPI, GBCI, & AIA (HSW). NARI Green is expected soon, and we’re working on NATE credits too.
Building Performance Center Inc. (BPCi), is one of the premier training resources for the clean energy workforce in California, offering a wide range of industry certifications and credentials. The BPCi runs a full-service training, test and mentoring facility that offers a real-house environment for hands-on practice to build confidence and skills ability, gain experience in diagnostics, testing, and remediation, and prepare for examination.
This is our first partnership with a training organization that blends online, classroom, hands-on labs, and field house learning and testing. Starting in March 2015, BHE online training is the first component of BPCi’s BPI Building Analyst Training and HERS rater training, underpinning the solid classroom training provided by BPCi’s seasoned instructors, Andy Wahl and Laura Seidman.
We’re finalizing the range of CEUs that will be offered through BPCi, because California’s special that way, you know.
Having our courses as the starting point of online training for the GreenHome certification programs, and as the foundation for BPCi’s face-to-face training fulfills one of our top goals: improving the capacity of our industry by collaborating with other training organizations.
Hot water distribution efficiency is now included in HERS ratings, under an amendment to ANSI/RESNET Standard 301-2014. This is a Good Thing. To date, all of our efforts to represent, and then minimize, hot water usage have been skewed by distribution systems (ie, by the vagaries of plumbing). According to David Butler (Optimal Building Systems LLC), the amendment not only incorporates distribution efficiency metrics, but also makes signification revisions to basic DHW efficiency calculations (consumption and waste rates, inlet/mains water temperature). Here's the amendment in full.
In some discussion groups, there's been a few posts about drainwater heat recovery (DWHR) units. I like these beasties. They are passive collectors of waste heat from the drainwater from showers. With the right plumbing set up, they can be very effective. They became less attractive in the last few years with the price of copper going up, but when operating costs don't go down (and where inexpensive natural gas isn't the go-to source for hot water), the case can still be made for using DWHR units. This is especially true in new houses in cold climates, where the average inlet or mains water temperature hovers around 44 - 70°F (with most of the year staying on the nasty cold side of that range).
I wrote up a Research Highlight on DWHR units for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp (CMHC) a few years ago based on two studies run in the Canadian Construction Test Houses in Ottawa. It's based on cold-climate housing and cold water feeds (2005 study range 49-67°F, 2006 study regulated at 46°F), so not applicable further south, but interesting read on the performance levels of the various configurations. Here's the pdf link.
And here's a groovy little calculator based on the findings from those studies (and others). Dial in the water usage, temp settings, plumbing configurations, fuel type and price, DWHR type and size. Again, only in Canada, I'm afraid ;-).
Add to this calculator some ways of achieving efficiency in hot water distribution (ie, best practices for plumbing runs in general, requiring DWHR units to be tied into one vertical drain for all the showers in the house, take toilets and other all-cold waste water producers off that shower drain) and you may have a strong case for improved water efficiency.
The problem: DWHR savings are very hard to map. In part, because occupant behavior changes. When there is more hot water, more hot water gets used. I've not seen a conclusive behavioral study, but have lots of anecdotal evidence. Can't waste that recovered hot water! Just like with solar thermal -- it looks like I get whopping savings out of my 2 panel system (especially in the summer), but I also know we use way more hot water in the summer and should seasons now that we have the solar thermal system because otherwise we're wasting all that lovely 'free' heat. It shouldn't come as a particular surprise, give then number of articles and papers documenting bigger footprint houses fitted with any number of gadgets and electronics leading to occupant behavior that trumps any energy savings improvements in the building envelope and mechanical systems.
We're so very pleased to announce our partnership with Building Performance Center Inc, in Folsom, CA. Our online training is the preparatory course for classroom training for Building Analyst training (BPI Certification). BPCi has a fantastic facility, the Field Training and Test House -- trainees are guaranteed lots of hands-on time with diagnostic equipment, in classes led by instructors who really know their stuff.
This is what we envisioned, working with great partners to amplify the benefits of hands-on training. BHE Building Science Basics is a benchmarking tool as well as an educational product. The online course makes sure that everyone coming into classroom or field training has a basic understanding of building science. An customizable exit survey allows the trainer to get a handle on the knowledge base of their trainees before class room or field time, so that the trainer can focus on the needs of the group and, ultimately, offer them a tailored training program.
If you are interested in a blended learning program like this, please give us a shout. We're looking for more regional partners.
Recently, some blown fiberglass products were shown to offer the same resistance to airflow when blown to a density of 2.3lbs/cubic foot as cellulose does at 4lbs/cubic foot. Energy Trust of Oregon was intrigued by these lab results and set out to see if they translated to the real world of production builders.
To find out, Energy Trust conducted a study in 2013 of 40 new homes comparing the airtightness of homes using batt insulation in the walls with homes using the blown-in wall system. On average, the blown-in wall system proved to be 1 ACH50 lower, resulting in a tighter home. Additionally, the houses with the blown-in wall system all had a higher average R-value (R-23) than the homes with batted walls (R-21). While lower infiltration and higher wall R-values are important, the blown-in systems also resulted in lower levels of inside noise. Interestingly enough, this was the feature homebuyers commented on the most, which is ultimately what convinced many builders to adopt the technique for all their new homes. To quote one builder: “I can sell quiet.”
There are some outstanding ‘green’ certification or standard programs for new home builders, not so many for remodeler and renovators. Our biz partner, GreenHome Institute offers one that is used in seven mid-Western states, called GreenStar (it’s good for certifying new homes too, BTW).
There’s a lot to cover in a certification program, and this one does a good job of it. The program covers the five pillars of green: energy, health, water, materials and site/community. Recent additions to the program include checklists for accessibility and Zero Energy. There’s an in-depth checklist, a manual and a specifications tool, all of which have been well-thought out and are very thorough.
We’re very pleased to be working with GreenHome Institute, an organization that has members and leadership with the vision and passion to create a home certification program, and match it up with a training program for green renovation professionals.
Cindy Ojczyk (o-check), co-developer of GreenStar, well-established sustainable designer and serious green remodeling blogger, will be running two qualification training programs for GreenStar in Minneapolis. You come away with the checklist, manual and specification tool as well as the basic qualifications you need to become a GreenHome Institute Associate. The workshop also qualifies for continuing education units from GBCI, AIA (HSW), NARI Green and NGBS.
Residential design and construction professionals in the new and existing homes market.
DYI Homeowner’s seeking resources and managing their own projects.
Real estate professionals looking to under the value of GreenHomes.
Policy makers & code officials.
Affordable housing & multi family developers.
Update from Cindy: In last week's GreenStar training (Jan 31) workshop, every single person in the class was there because customers and clients were asking for green. Attendees include an electrician, appliance retailer, interior designer, and a very large design/build/remodel firm that sent 9 people to training. So get on board, y'all!