Open house held at Clean Energy Center's Latrobe lab

Published 03.08.2024

Photos by Amanda S. Quinton, Clean Energy Center instructional designer (unless otherwise noted)

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Offering an overview of the numerous career pathways in the home energy efficiency industry, Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Clean Energy Center lab in Latrobe hosted an open house on Wednesday at its 7,500 square-foot facility at Westmoreland Airpark. The event gave attendees opportunities to watch live demonstrations of home energy efficiency technologies and network with employers and workforce development experts.  

The nationally recognized Clean Energy Center’s core mission is to teach people how to reduce energy consumption in their communities and improve the comfort and safety of buildings. 

Addressing the gathering, Penn College President Michael J. Reed said, “The people trained in this lab are the front line of reducing the energy burden in our communities and improving the housing stock for many low-income Pennsylvanians in both rural and urban areas… Over the past 40 years, the center has trained thousands of adults that are employed in the energy efficiency sector and are seeking upskilling, certifications, and pathways to educational and career advancement.”

Among leaders attending the Clean Energy Center's Latrobe lab open house are (from left): Richard Vilello, deputy secretary for community affairs and development, state Department of Community & Economic Development; Penn College President Michael J. Reed; Shannon M. Munro, vice president for workforce development at Penn College; Alison A. Diehl, executive director, Clean Energy Center; Nicholas Horting, director of DCED’s Center for Residential Reinvestment Programs; and Mark A. Santillo, instructional site manager at the Latrobe site.

Alison A. Diehl, executive director of the Clean Energy Center, noted the Latrobe lab, which opened in 2021, has provided training and certifications to 529 home energy professionals. She lauded the support and collaboration of the state Department of Community & Economic Development and its Center for Residential Reinvestment Programs.

“As we look into the future, we are committed to continuing our efforts, expanding our reach and making an even greater impact in the years to come,” Diehl added.

Also speaking at the open house was Richard Vilello, deputy secretary for community affairs and development, DCED.

Penn College’s Clean Energy Center is recognized as one of the top building science training providers in the country and is the premier workforce development and training partner for utility energy efficiency programs and the Weatherization Assistance Program administered through the DCED.

In addition to the central training lab in Williamsport and the lab in Latrobe, a third lab in Harrisburg opened in 2023 to provide more access to hands-on training across the commonwealth. All three labs are running at full capacity, supporting increased workforce recruitment and training efforts ramped up under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The Clean Energy Center’s accredited Home Energy Professional programs teach individuals how to perform home energy assessments and installation techniques to reduce energy bills, while remediating health and safety issues like mold, lead paint, and carbon monoxide. 

A March 27 open house is planned at the Harrisburg site.

Penn College's president addresses the crowd.
Mark A. Santillo, instructional site manager at the Clean Energy Center's Latrobe lab, leads a group on a tour of the 7,500 square-foot, state-of-the-art instructional space.
Donald E. Evans (foreground), CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Gateways Corp./Energy Innovation Center, joins Santillo during a live demonstration of a combustion safety test on a gas-fired water heater inside the center’s Diagnostic House. Crew leaders and energy auditors must demonstrate proficiency in testing appliances to ensure they are not back-drafting carbon monoxide into the home.
The Latrobe lab, opened in 2021, has provided training and certifications to 529 home energy professionals to date. (Photo by Mark A. Santillo)
Johnny Marnell, HVAC and energy efficiency trainer at Latrobe, shows off a new exhaust fan prop that he and Santillo developed. The training prop teaches multiple skills such as how to rough in, mount and wire exhaust fans, as well as how to set the control and verify fan flow. Proper ventilation is important to maintaining air quality in energy efficient homes.
In the lab's Diagnostic House, Santillo demonstrates the blower door ...
... a critical piece of equipment that helps home energy professionals measure the amount and locations of air leakage in a home.
The lab's retrofit installer training prop teaches hands-on competencies for proper air sealing, dense-pack insulation and roof ventilation.
Conversing in the expansive space are Mike McMonigal (left), the Clean Energy Center's workforce development program manager, and Santillo.
Prior to the formal open house program, attendees get familiar with the space. Joining Diehl (at center in blue blazer) is Loni N. Kline (in white blazer), senior vice president for college relations.
Vilello emphasizes that Penn College is equipping people with highly relevant skills that meet Pennsylvania’s evolving workforce demands.
Diehl lauds the support and collaboration of the DCED and its Center for Residential Reinvestment Programs.
Reed and Evans connect.
Clean Energy Center swag
The center's “Wall of Heat” contains working heating appliances typically found in existing homes. The center uses these appliances to train workers on heating appliance energy efficiency, safety and maintenance.
During the facility tours, Diehl shares the capabilities of the dedicated multimedia-equipped classroom and the career pathways offered by the center's Home Energy Professional programs.