GETUP Graduates Join Home Performance Workforce

Chuck Colgan's picture

Workforce training for the home performance industry has been a mainstay of CCSE since 2012. Through the GETUP Energy Upgrade Internship Program, CCSE provides classroom and hands-on field training with the goal of providing the industry with trained entry-level professionals. With an average class size of 11 students, GETUP provides personalized training with CCSE’s home performance experts.

Loren Fink, a November 2013 GETUP graduate, is quite pleased with the training program.

“GETUP provided me with building science theory and knowledge, introducing me to the tools of the energy efficiency trade and associated products," Fink said. "During the field component, I got to apply what I learned and conducted an energy assessment at a San Diego house. This training has helped me immensely.”

Fink explained that CCSE’s instructors covered a lot of building performance and energy efficiency information and that he appreciated that the class was over a three-week period. “Technical information was conveyed and reiterated by the instructors in a way that it was easy to comprehend and remember,” he said.

How GETUP works

The success of its students is a measure of GETUP's success — 80 percent graduate and nearly 60 percent have gone on to paid, 40-hour professional internships with Energy Upgrade California™ Home Upgrade participating contractors and raters. Of the 41 individuals who served as interns, 21 have gone on to jobs in the local home performance industry.

Initially launched as a pilot program supported by Recovery Act stimulus funds, GETUP is now funded by the San Diego Climate Collaborative, consisting of local government partners and San Diego Gas & Electric. 

Classroom training focuses on the fundamentals of building science including heat and air movement, insulation, air sealing, moisture control, mechanical systems and conservation strategies. Other topics include construction practices, job-site safety, home energy assessments, energy efficiency upgrades and resume writing. Participants receive the Building Performance Institute’s (BPI's) Building Sciences Principles textbook and a package of safety equipment for class and on-the-job use after GETUP.

In the lab classroom at San Diego Community College's Educational Cultural Complex (ECC), participants install energy efficiency upgrades including air sealing, ducting and insulation in a mock house that has a crawl space, open wall cavities, exposed plumbing and wiring and a roof. Participants learn about combustion safety of natural gas water heaters, stoves and furnaces at the ECC’s combustion training trailer. In the field at a San Diego-area house, participants get hands-on experience using energy assessment tools including a blower door, duct testing equipment and infrared cameras. They also prepare the documentation to complete a residential energy assessment.

From intern to employee

On the last day of class, participants take the exam for the BPI's Building Science Principles Certificate of Knowledge. The last day also serves as graduation and a networking event with Home Upgrade participating contractors. GETUP participants have a unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with companies that are seeking trained interns or employees.

Fink landed an internship at the networking event with the local affiliate of My Plumber, a plumbing, heating and air conditioning company, and since has transitioned to a full-time job. The company plans to launch a home performance division in San Diego with Fink running the operations. “GETUP has opened the door to a great opportunity to enter the home performance industry. The class gave me the ‘in’ and the credibility needed to make this happen,” he said.

More GETUP sessions are planned for the San Diego area in 2014.

Chuck Colgan