The Iowa Energy Center is working to improve building energy efficiency training and education programming by involving building professionals statewide in program development.
In a four-step plan, the Energy Center will assess the gaps and needs of current building energy efficiency training and education programs, and then develop a centralized calendar of energy efficient training and education events statewide.
“By asking stakeholders in the building energy efficiency field what they need in terms of training and education, we can increase our impact and help them become more effective professionals,” said Dr. Xiaohui (Joe) Zhou, building energy efficiency program manager at the Energy Center.
In the past, the Iowa Energy Center has planned training and education events based on the staff’s expertise and hot topics in building energy efficiency. But with the new plan, building professionals will be actively involved in program development by sharing their needs for future training and education programs.
“If we can better identify the gaps and needs of energy programs, we can address topics or standards or technologies that haven’t been covered before, and as a result, better educate building professionals,” Dr. Zhou said.
In the first step of the plan, more than 30 stakeholder organizations were asked to submit their building energy efficiency related workshops, seminars, conferences, etc., held over the past two years. The Energy Center staff will then categorize the events to see what gaps are currently in energy efficient training and education programs.
As a second step in the plan, individuals who are members of the stakeholder organizations will be asked to take a needs assessment online survey to determine more specifically what building professionals are looking for in training and education programs. Results from this part of the plan will help the Energy Center prioritize and develop future education and training programs. The gap analysis and needs assessment results will also be disseminated to stakeholders to help these professional organizations better plan their future building energy efficiency training.
“Results from the assessment and survey will allow us to plan our internal and external programming to better suit the needs of organizations and companies statewide,” Dr. Zhou said.
Once results are assessed and reported, a state-wide, centralized, and dynamic training and education program calendar will be available at Iowa Energy Center website. The calendar will also be shared with building professionals, building owners/managers, state officials, and the general public. The goal of this step is to make current programs more visible to other professionals and to improve publicity of energy efficiency events.
“So far, stakeholders have supported this plan because it allows them better opportunities for education and training activities,” Dr. Zhou said. “We are excited to see how it better serves building professionals in Iowa.”