Conversations from the Wx Frontlines: Robert Parkhurst

At the most recent National Weatherization Training Conference that took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, six people were presented with a 2011 Weatherization Assistance Program National Recognition Award.

The Recognition Awards acknowledge outstanding contributions that advance the goals of WAP through individual or group achievement, inspiration, or innovation. The Recognition Awards program is open to all grantees and subgrantees that receive financial assistance under DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program.

The award winners are:

  • Chris Heslep, Virginia  
  • Julie Palakovich, Washington
  • Robert Parkhurst, Wisconsin  
  • Bill Bolin, Kansas  
  • Terry Emelander, Michigan  
  • Hyron Parris, New York  

We were lucky enough to sit down with a few of these weatherization heroes – those people that are on the frontlines every day, working hard for our industry. The following is a Q&A with winner Robert Parkhurst, a program manager in residential technical services for the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation.

Home Energy: What does this award mean to you?

Robert Parkhurst: The award is confirmation that my efforts in finding ways to improve the weatherization program with the help and guidance of many people have worked. I see it more as recognition for all of us in Wisconsin and I was just fortunate enough to have my name called to represent our program. We all want to succeed at what we do, and I’ve always thought that the best way for me to accomplish success is to help other succeed as well.

HE: What's the most unusual home you've worked on? What made it such an unusual project?

RP: There have been numerous unique homes that I have been to, but the homes that stick out most are two that were built by the owners. One was a log home with a stone foundation and the other was an octagon home built with rough cut lumber from the farm’s saw mill. We were able to install new wood-fired forced air furnaces in both homes. 

What really made them stick out are not the homes themselves as much as the families and their stories on how they were able to accomplish building their own homes even through difficult financial and health issues that they were faced with. 

HE: What challenges does weatherization face in Wisconsin?

RP: Wisconsin faces challenges for continued funding of weatherization, which is always key. The second issue we face is identifying and rectifying health and safety issues as well as energy conservation in the homes we weatherize.

HE: How do you see weatherization thriving (or not) post-ARRA funds?

RP: Weatherization in Wisconsin will continue to be a success story. We may not have the large sums of money that ARRA provided, but we will continue to save energy and make homes safe and healthy.

HE: What do you see for the future of the weatherization program - both locally and nationally?

RP: New ideas and approaches will come forth that will allow us locally to succeed with what I expect to be limited funding levels. We will need to work hard on the national level to focus attention back to savings that the program achieves for the money that is invested to maintain our funding as well as the financial impact we have on the economy in general.

Stay tuned for more one-on-ones with these weatherization award winners.

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