December 9, 2013...Will It Go Down In Weatherization History As The Day That Changed The Future?

“Weatherization Drives New Technology and the Home Performance Industry,” hosted by NASCSP, brought a full house of movers and shakers to the White House to demonstrate WAP’s technical innovations, leadership in the home performance industry, and role as a go-to partner for utility and other partnership projects. Brad Penney, on behalf of NASCSP, opened the event and thanked the White House for the opportunity to showcase the Weatherization Assistance Program. With two panels packed with esteemed speakers, there was so much robust conversation happening, we wanted to make sure you caught some key moments captured in the recording of this discussion on the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Each panelist told a part of the WAP story to build a picture of WAP as both the technical and operational foundation for the residential energy efficiency projects and businesses throughout the nation, and as an exemplary model of leveraging and hi-impact strategies making a difference in low-income communities.

Steve Cowell, CEO of Conservation Services Group, made this point succinctly and we just had to share: “WAP is a small business program. It works with the community to make a difference. The community-wide efforts to address energy needs house-by-house really started with and continue to be led by WAP.” Cowell also made sure to note that Healthy Homes Initiatives is a key part of the next step for WAP to keep residents and homes safe and to continue to address energy needs nationwide. (Be sure to check out NASCSP’s Weatherization Plus Health website to see more on how we are moving forward with that next step already and get ideas for how you can join in the national efforts.)

All speakers at the event were unanimous in that even with high-impact partnerships between WAP, utility programs, and small local businesses, partnerships alone will not fund the program. Adequate DOE funding is critical to ensure WAP continues to be the foothold and catalyst for such partnerships that can significantly supplement the DOE investment.  Federal funding will guarantee WAP continues to be a model leveraging program and success story. And DOE was there to hear them.

Dr. David Danielson, the Assistant Secretary of Energy, wrapped up the event with strong DOE support, stating that WAP is a testament to private-public partnerships and a model of a high impact program with impressive leveraging. It is an investment that pays for itself and builds communities. Dan Utech, Deputy Assistant to the President, Director of Energy and Climate Change, ended the event with support from the White House itself, stating that “WAP is part of larger governmental push for energy efficiency and it works.”

For a run-down of more great quotes, check out some key tweets we’ve pulled from our initial twitter conversation that generated over 700 tweets in the few hours of live-streaming and more in follow-up!

Make sure you read the full supporting remarks from Dr. David Danielson, the Assistant Secretary of Energy and bookmark Part 1 of the video of the event for sharing and re-watching! Part 2 coming soon.

 

- Rae Tamblyn is a research assistant at NASCSP.

This blog originally appeared on The State of Poverty, NASCSP's blog, and is reprinted with permission.

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Tags: House, NASCSP, White, weatherization

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Comment by Robert Logston on December 28, 2013 at 12:33pm

Response to:

tedkidd on December 17, 2013 at 7:49am

Sorry to hear of your problem, but this in my almost 30 years seems to be an exception to the Rule of Quality Control. All WAP homes are to have 100% inspections before funding is released for payment and a sign off by the client. If the client is not satisfied, the Program is designed to make it so they are.

Thus, I feel you have not been around the Program long enough, or just have a bad taste to say:

"Without accountability AND TRACKING of results, those who benefit from weatherization may not be the ones intended to benefit.   Until we are willing to be honest about this problem, quality of delivery will rest way too heavily on intrinsic motivation in the supply chain." 

Numerous study have been made to show that Weatherization does Work. Sometimes it can just be a band-aid to a housing stock that need more health and safety work done to it before Retrofits are done, but these homes are to be fixed first by other Program's or the Landlord, before the services start. Do not know what services were done, but I have never heard of the Retrofits achieving nothing. Just installing CFL's makes an improvement, but a holistic approach should have been done?

As far as for your question/ statement,

"How many were there for purely charitable intent and on their own dime?  Would it be fair to say that answer is "none"?"  

I personally was there to stand up for the low-income, without any monetary benefits and I know of no others who were paid to be there (coming from Seattle, Washington, Maine, etc...). This is the nature of the Weatherization family, as opposed some other types of Programs that have grown on the coat-tail of WAP. There is a genuine concern for the low-income families to see them comfortable and safe. Monies seem to be going to the middle to upper-income Programs and a blind eye is being given to the most needy. That is why we were all assembled... period.

 

Comment by David Williams on December 18, 2013 at 9:42am

  Tedkidd might be on to something with program accountability.  I recently spent time in the crawl space, of a building that is owned by the government agency that administers the WAP program in my area.  I informed the director that they had heat ducts that had fallen apart and some that had the insulation removed.  The crawlspace vents were missing or left wide open (it was -25F for 10 days out of the last 30 days) and there was condensation on most of the uninsulated, cold water pipes that I had worked near. They told me that they had had an audit, recently, so those things are "probably" of no concern.  WOW - Yes I did reconnect the flex ducts that had fallen off  ; (   

If one can not lead by example, ??? 

Comment by David Williams on December 18, 2013 at 9:18am

Meg has my attention and I share her philosophy on VERIFICATION.  The DOE has become a government beast with many heads and tails. Neither looking in the same direction nor wagging at the same accomplishments.  Standardized testing, with published results, will drive the energy efficient buildings market. Using a model that is similar to the automotive industry, these results can illustrate operational costs and promote increased resale value.

Comment by tedkidd on December 18, 2013 at 4:52am

 

Meg

Let's hear the views of all of us concerned about really saving energy and emissions about how you get real quality into every private/utility-funded/ WAP job? Is it rules? better protocols? personnel requirements and skills and , if so, which?  Independent insections?  lowering the investments to fit the real promise and the dropping cost of fossil fuels?

 

"A house built to code is the crappiest house you can legally build."  If excellence has ever been administered into existence, I'd love to see where.  Where minimum standards are applied through regulation and administration you get minimum quality work.  You have structurally defined mediocrity as your targeted and fundamentally created barriers to excellence.  Without tangible reward, doing more than the minimum becomes competitive disadvantage.  

You've baked innovation stifling low quality work into your delivery structure.  This is the fundamental design of programs that don't track and recognize results.  

 

Think about this.  Tiger Woods isn't a great golfer because he was told he had to break 100.  He certainly wouldn't be a great golfer if nobody ever kept score.  

 

We need to set goals and track results.  Seem simple?  At $5k to $13k program cost per project you'd think they'd be able to track, yet tracking is not occurring.  Lots of excuses, ineffectual bureaucrats are masters of the excuse.  But no tracking.  

 

If you sort results by contractor, you now have a competition.  Pretty simple.  Here's what an air leakage reduction competition might look like: 

 

 

Unfortunately, due to Perverse Incentive structure in NY's program, this is what it looks like when you compare projected reduction to delivered reduction:  

 

 

 

Or is there a good argument that the market will solve the technical and quality problem for the private participants?

Markets are about competition.  It's what drives capitalism, what drives markets, what drives evolution.  Survival of the fittest.  Let's start keeping track of numbers that matter so competition is built around THEM.  Then yes, market competition will drive quality and innovation up.  

JD Powers did it for the auto industry.  We need that for home performance. 

 

Comment by Meg Power on December 17, 2013 at 9:27am

oops Meant the "WAP the program".

Comment by Meg Power on December 17, 2013 at 9:26am

I think the point  to focus on is whether EAP the program can contribute to settng the performance bar high and to helping define both the floor of acceptable performance and the standard of excellence for residential retrofits going forward. 

the program is structured as a rule/metric-driven enterprise to a far greater extent than the general industry, including the utiltiy residential programs can generally boast. A lot of the businesses in this forum have mentioned the negatives with that approach for sure..

Let's agree that neither WAP lately nor the industry performance as a whole is good enough yet accross the board. The 2012 ACI leadership policy statement/strategic vision was very honest and comprehensive about these issues.   Which have a painfully detailed performance evaluation underway with the promise of measured results that will inform change? Which are instituting tougher, more independent quality assurance procedures? Which are insisting on rolling worker/supervisor/inspector accreditation into the requirements on the assumption that it comes down to the people wearing "jump suits and booties" ?

Let's hear the views of all of us concerned about really saving energy and emissions about how you get real quality into every private/utility-funded/ WAP job? Is it rules? better protocols? personnel requirements and skills and , if so, which?  Independent insections?  lowering the investments to fit the real promise and the dropping cost of fossil fuels?

One name I have never before been called is a bureaucrat- proving again that  this forum is great incubator of new ideas...Can we  focus some of that creativity on problem solving?  Because there sure is a problem and WAP is, in my view, the least of it qand also part of the solution.

Or is there a good argument that the market will solve the technical and quality problem for the private participants?

Comment by tedkidd on December 17, 2013 at 7:49am

Hi Robert, couple questions:

How many were there for purely charitable intent and on their own dime?  Would it be fair to say that answer is "none"?  

I have a rental property in a low income neighborhood, and weatherization was performed on it for the tenants.  The work was TERRIBLE, didn't save any energy, and basically employed and enriched people OTHER than the population the funds spent were intend to benefit.  

Without accountability AND TRACKING of results, those who benefit from weatherization may not be the ones intended to benefit.   Until we are willing to be honest about this problem, quality of delivery will rest way too heavily on intrinsic motivation in the supply chain.  

We need to make reward EXTRINSIC.  That happens by measuring and ranking results - people work harder and deliver better quality when they want to win, and when they're worried about looking like they suck.  

Does your company suck?  http://bit.ly/HEREARESOMENUMBERS

Comment by Robert Logston on December 17, 2013 at 7:38am

Hello All, I was at the event and politics did not seem to be the driving force for the conference, but rather trying to get more funding to those in poverty, that need a HELPing hand out. The event should not be distracted by how some there run their bushiness and management issues, but the unity of the different layers of Green Collar Industry that brave the weather to join in for a pow-wow to save the Industry from underfunding. I was surprised to be invited, for I am only a Green Business Owner (H.E.L.P.), for many were upper-level movers and shaker, but I understand it was a meeting for all, to give a voice to all... especially those who cannot afford to pay for comfort, saving and safety.

The negative remarks only hurt the WAP cause and should stay in thought, and not in black and white...

Comment by Jim Peck on December 17, 2013 at 3:33am

Well said, Meg

Comment by tedkidd on December 16, 2013 at 4:04pm

Yep, that is a nice sentiment Meg.  

When there are MEASURED RESULTS the indications are there are tremendously successful projects and programs.  For example: 

In fact, forward thinkers are starting to call for measured results.  Here's a Great Vermont Study of HPwES participation and how trust would improve it: 

But for most of the country, overpromise and underperform with overbloated ineffective programs incompentently designed and administered at the expense of the consumer energy efficiency, consumer and contractor trust, and consumer uptake remains common: 

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