University works to build high-performance construction education program for industry professionals
The Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech and the Residential Energy Services Network, also known as RESNET, are working together to educate builders on best practices for high-performance construction through the new netPLUS Energy School.
netPLUS Energy School was founded by builders and educators passionate about better building and committed to raising the standard of industry professional education by teaching builders, designers, and owners both the “why” and “how-to” of high-performance building. netPLUS integrates building science, practical technical details, and program management in an engaging, cohesive way.
Andrew McCoy, an associate professor in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and director of the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech, has been instrumental in guiding the curriculum development for the program, which will debut at Virginia Tech and then be taught in various local markets around the U.S.
McCoy developed the curriculum based on his experience in the construction industry and in developing and teaching courses for the Department of Building Construction at Virginia Tech as well as the extensive housing industry data gathered by the center’s research.
“We realized there was not much training available to building practitioners on interpreting housing performance in a holistic, practical format that is applicable to industry stakeholders at all levels,” said McCoy. “There are new techniques that we know can be tested — and if they are built and tested properly, they result in energy savings — but there is a disconnect between what is being tested and the implementation in the field, and many people are learning by trial and error. We need to educate people on best practices and put it in their language, which is our objective with netPLUS.”
In addition to teaching best practices, the netPLUS curriculum will also reinforce the value of quantifying energy performance with help from RESNET.
The Residential Energy Services Network was founded in 1995 as an independent, non-profit organization committed to helping homeowners reduce the cost of their utility bills by making their homes more energy efficient. RESNET created a nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance using the Home Energy Rating System and is responsible for creating the national training and certification standards for HERS Raters and Home Energy Survey Professionals, both of which are recognized by federal government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. mortgage industry.
netPLUS Energy School Directors Al Cobb and Rich Backus agree that HERS raters will be seen as valued consultants who are critical to success. “Our industry is evolving at a much faster pace; the world has changed. A new paradigm exists now, that of the HERS consultant, with the power to unite fellow stakeholders in successful, high-performance residential construction, and the linchpin to this success is education,” said Backus.
Steve Baden, RESNET executive director said, “With the growing market demand for high energy performance homes, builders need the latest information on how to build homes with the lowest HERS Index Score cost effectively. This training along with a HERS Consultant will provide builders and raters a great opportunity”
Both netPLUS and RESNET recognize that education focused on best practices for achieving energy efficiency, comfort, health-promoting environments, cost optimization, and durability is essential.