Weatherization Training Center Expands to Meet Demand

Published 11.04.2009

Clean Energy

Fred Dedrick, deputy secretary for workforce development for the state Department of Labor %26 Industry, listens as Dawn Moody, of the Energy Coordinating Agency, explains a procedure to monitor heat loss within one of the Weatherization Training Center%E2%80%99s diagnostic labs. Moody received her training from the WTC.For nearly 25 years, the Weatherization Training Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology has provided technical education and training to the professionals who implement programs helping low-income households reduce their energy consumption and costs.

With an infusion of federal stimulus funds bolstering those efforts in Pennsylvania, the WTC is one of the first such training facilities nationwide to expand its operations in response to the growing demand fueled by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act support.

Fred Dedrick, deputy secretary for workforce development for the state Department of Labor %26 Industry, speaks at the Weatherization Training Center Grand Opening.The center held a Grand Opening on Wednesday, showcasing the enhanced facility for invited federal, state and local officials and training partners, who met with staff and toured the 16,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art instructional space on Reach Road in Williamsport.

Since 1985, the WTC, part of Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Penn College, has been the primary resource for weatherization training under Pennsylvania's Weatherization Assistance Program, as well as a technical resource for the many agencies statewide that participate in the effort. Before the expansion, the WTC trained 250 to 350 people per year. With the expansion, the total number trained is expected to surpass 1,000 annually. The renovated facility can support four training classes operating simultaneously. Previously, only one class could be trained at a time.

"Penn College has a long-standing tradition of providing quality instruction and support services to Pennsylvania's Weatherization Assistance Program and its affiliated agencies and contractors," said college President Davie Jane Gilmour. "Weatherization Technologies are an important component of ARRA's overall energy-conservation objectives, and we are pleased that the commonwealth has requested us to expand our services to provide the required training and certifications."

Weatherization Training Center instructor Gerald A. Welshans, right, demonstrates the glazing operations within the Weatherization Training Center for Fred Dedrick, deputy secretary for workforce development for the state Department of Labor %26 Industry.The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $252.8 million to Pennsylvania for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which is administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Due to the ARRA funding boost, Pennsylvania, which is allocating the funds over three fiscal years, is expected to reduce energy usage by the equivalent of 155,000 barrels of oil a year, weatherize at least 29,700 more housing units and provide 940 jobs statewide.

In spring, the state asked the WTC to expand its classroom and laboratory space to accommodate the expected rise in demand for services. It took approximately five months to complete the work, which cost more than $100,000 and is being paid for with federal funds administered through the state.

The facility now has two dedicated, multimedia-equipped classrooms; two similarly equipped classrooms that can be used for WTC training purposes; a Weatherization Tactics Lab; a Weatherization Diagnostics and Energy Conservation Lab; and office space for instructors and support staff.

The remodeled Weatherization Tactics Lab features a class-instruction area, a six-unit demonstration structure, six workstations/workbenches, fully equipped blower units for installing cellulose insulation, storage for tools and equipment, and wireless Internet capability.

E. Craig Heim, executive director of the Office of Energy Conservation and Weatherization, state Department of Community and Economic Development, speaks to officials and training partners attending the Weatherization Training Center%E2%80%99s Grand Opening.The remodeled Weatherization Diagnostics and Energy Conservation Lab allows for multiple training events and testing. It features an instruction area, two demonstration and test houses with blower-door testing equipment, a six-unit demonstration structure for single- and multi-family scenarios, a "wall of heat" (10 functioning heating units), a base load display/demonstration area, and an insulation display.

The WTC offers a full range of competency-based training courses for employees or contractors of community-based organizations who administer mechanical and building-shell retrofits under the Weatherization Assistance Program.

In addition to the on-site training, the WTC performs on-location training around the state using a dedicated van and trailer. Nine such sessions have been provided in the past four months.

WTC staff dedicated to weatherization and energy-conservation training and consulting services include a director, a training coordinator/instructor, an instructional specialist, a program support specialist and a part-time secretary. Other staff available as needed include computer-programming specialists and online curriculum and testing development specialists.

Past and present services offered by the WTC include:

  • A full range of competency-based courses with recognized U.S. Department of Energy/state Department of Labor and Industry approval.
  • In-field training and/or consultation at remote agency locations.
  • Building and mechanical systems audits (in-field and in-lab).
  • Computer training and research for energy and weatherization programs.
  • Instruction in the science and principles of energy and moisture transportation, along with control strategies.
  • A clearinghouse for weatherization-related building-product information.
  • Online resources highlighting WTC's ongoing events, updated training schedules and staff.

The center's accomplishments include:

  • Training nearly 8,000 workers from the commonwealth and surrounding states in weatherization topics.
  • Providing computer training and ongoing technical assistance to weatherization sub-grantees using the National Energy Audit.
  • Authoring and providing leadership in the implementation of the Weatherization Standards and Field Guide for the state's Weatherization Assistance Program.
  • Implementing new technologies into the weatherization curriculum, including the blower door, sidewall insulation and duct diagnostics.
  • Developing computer-based multimedia applications and certification-testing options for classroom use and distribution.
  • Performing services for industry and publicly funded organizations including proprietary insulation testing for CertainTeed Corp. and an energy-use analysis and audit for the Lycoming County Housing Authority.

David Pistner, weatherization training director for the state Department of Labor %26 Industry, watches as Karl Orwig, of the Lehigh Valley Community Action Committee, demonstrates a procedure on the %E2%80%9Cwall of heat,%E2%80%9D which comprises 10 functioning heating units within the Weatherization Training Center.The WTC has also hosted visits by officials with weatherization programs in other states who are interested in duplicating the center's training success.

"Our recent renovations have created a first-class training facility that is capable of training more than three times the number of students than previously possible," said John Manz, who directs WTC operations and also is a certified instructor. "True to Penn College tradition, our lab provides hands-on lab experiences for our students utilizing the latest technology and diagnostic tools available."

Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Penn College employs approximately 45 people and manages workforce-development funds exceeding $20 million annually. WDCE directly trains more than 6,000 people each year and administers funding for the training of more than 90,000 Pennsylvania workers annually.

For more information about the Weatherization Training Center at Penn College, visit online or call 570-327-4768. For more information about WDCE, visit on the Web or call 570-327-4775.

For more information about Penn College, visit online , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

For more information about grant-funding opportunities, faculty and staff may contact the Grants and Contracts Office at ext. 7562 or through its Web portal.