IREC, partners push solar training for allied professions

Free webinar
June 15, 2017
12:00-1:30 PM MT

Half-day Forum
San Francisco, California
July 1, 2017

As solar installations continue to grow exponentially, there is an increasing need for other professions to know more about solar technologies. Firefighters, local code officials and electrical and building inspectors need a thorough understanding about solar technologies if the solar sector is to continue growing in a safe and sustainable way.

To meet this need, the Department of Energy SunShot Initiative provided funding to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) to develop Solar Training and Education for Professionals You are leaving (STEP). Working with partners in related fields, IREC created a number of training resources for allied professionals whose jobs require some knowledge of solar technology.

IREC’s STEP partners are:

Training online
STEP is presenting Solar Updates in the 2017 National Electrical Code, You are leaving an interactive webinar June 15. This interactive webinar will cover new articles, such as large scale photovoltaic (PV) electric supply stations and energy storage systems, and changes to existing provisions like rapid shutdown and grounding of PV systems. Participants will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance, or during the webinar. The event is free and continuing education units (CEUs) are available.

Training in person
For solar professionals in California, an in-person workshop You are leaving has been scheduled in conjunction with Intersolar North America in San Francisco, July 12. The half-day training session is one in a series of national forums on solar codes and safety specifically for local building planners and inspectors, architects, builders, solar installers and others who will benefit, including fire officials.

National solar code and technical experts will discuss the most recent solar code updates and impact on those tasked with enforcement. The material will cover much of the same ground as the webinar but in more detail, with an eye on California. Other solar code enforcement considerations, including permitting and first responder safety, will be discussed. After attending this session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify three or more solar code updates
  • Explain the impact of one or more solar code changes
  • Navigate to solar code resources, including best practices for permitting

The forum is also eligible for CEUs from the International Code Council, IAEI and North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

Training on demand
In addition to these upcoming training opportunities, STEP offers specific free online training courses for code officials PV Online Training for Code Officials You are leaving and firefighters Solar PV Safety for Firefighters Online Course.

For questions about the Solar Codes and Safety Forum contact IREC at 518-621-7379.

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 5/22/17

New OSHA Regs for Confined Spaces Safety

New confined space regulations from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) taking effect Jan. 8, 2016, have significant implications for home performance companies and weatherization professionals.

This rule is designed to help prevent tragic situations like a recent one where a construction foreman died from asphyxiation after entering a manhole with an uncontrolled hazardous atmosphere.

Under the new rule (29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA), permits to access specific confined spaces are granted by the general contractor or lead contractor on each job. There are numerous safe entry procedures that require the contractor to plan and prepare ahead of time. The rule will apply to any space that meets three criteria:

  • It is large enough for a worker to enter it
  • It has limited means of entry or exit
  • It is not designed for continuous occupancy

A space may be a permit-required confined space if it has a hazardous atmosphere, the potential for suffocation, a layout that might trap a worker through converging walls or a sloped floor, or any other serious safety or health hazard.

Employers will be required to train workers to ensure they know about the existence, location and dangers posed by each permit-required confined space.Report - Protecting Construction Workers in Confined Spaces

To help small businesses become compliant, OSHA has published The Small Entity Compliance Guide (pdf). This is plain language explanation covers all aspects of the Confined Space in Construction Rule, including how eliminating or isolating hazards can allow the contractor to reclassify a permit-required confined space as a non-permit confined space.

Learn more about the new regulations on OSHA’s Confined Space website, or check out The New Confined Spaces in Construction – The Big Picture, You are leaving Western's site. a free archived webinar from the National Association of Home Builders.

Also, if you have found a good resource for training energy auditors, customer program representatives and preferred contractors to comply with the new regulation, please share it with Energy Services. Safety always comes first!

Free webinar examines LED replacement lamps

Sept. 24
1 p.m. MT

Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) Emerging Technologies Showcase series presents Mogul Base LED Lamps for Retrofits, You are leaving Western's site. a free webinar on Sept. 24 at 1 PM Mountain Time.

High intensity discharge (HID) lamps with large screw-in “mogul” base sockets can be found lighting roadways, parking lots, building exteriors and high bay interiors. Although HID lamps represent only 2 percent of all installed lamps in the U.S., they account for 26 percent of the nation’s lighting energy use. Retrofitting with LED, or light-emitting diode, replacement lamps is an opportunity for strategic energy savings.

This webinar describes performance and safety tests of a selection of mogul base LED replacement lamps for energy efficient retrofits. Researchers used criteria from the DesignLights Consortium You are leaving Western's site. (DLC) to determine lamp efficacy and application. DLC, a program for advancing efficient lighting technology, is still in the process of establishing categories for LED replacement lamps.

There is no charge for participating in the webinar, but registration is required. Find recordings of past webinars in the series on the Energy Efficiency Emerging Technologies (E3T) website. You are leaving Western's site. E3T is a program of Bonneville Power Administration for evaluating the performance and market potential of new technologies. BPA sponsors the webinar series with support from Western.

Technology Spotlight: The power of non-energy benefits

Most energy-saving technologies are invisible to users, but for some technologies, non-energy benefits (NEB) can be the deciding factor in getting consumers to spring for that energy-efficient new appliance or system.

NEBs are those “warm fuzzies” that keep customers happy—things like improved productivity, comfort, safety, health, process control or resale value. Commercial customers who do not excited about cutting energy costs or saving the environment might light up when they learn that a technology could reduce inventory, address regulatory concerns or cut down on maintenance. Especially for projects that don’t have a quick direct payback, NEBs can make the business case to move forward.

The E3TNW databaseRedirecting to a non-government site of new and emerging efficiency technologies, co-sponsored by Western and Bonneville Power Administration, has a field just for NEBs. Because these benefits often influence purchasers more than the energy cost savings, they can have a big impact on how quickly and deeply a new technology is adopted.

Beyond efficiency
One example is interior storm windows, which can cut window energy losses by a quarter or more. These cost-effective alternatives to window replacement are available as easily installed Plexiglas models for homes and double-pane, aluminum-frame models for commercial buildings. They can cut cold drafts and raise the temperature of the interior pane, reduce outside noise and reduce condensation that can cause mold and damage window frames. Some come with solar-controlling tints and UV filters to reduce glare, heat gain and fabric fading. Homeowners who want to be more comfortable and protect their furnishings might see the energy-efficiency performance as just icing on the cake.

Interior storm window panels not only reduce energy loss, they protect furnishings and cut down on outside noise. (Photo by Emerging Energy Efficiency Technologies Database)
Interior storm window panels not only reduce energy loss, they protect furnishings and cut down on outside noise. (Photo by Emerging Energy Efficiency Technologies Database)

LED lighting is another technology that can almost sell itself on NEBs alone. The lamps are four to six times more efficient than incandescent lamps and last about 50 times as long, a point to mention to customers with critical lighting in hard-to-reach places.Unlike metal halide or high-pressure sodium lamps, LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, can be dimmed to save additional energy in areas where daylighting may occasionally be sufficient for the task. Warehouse managers might appreciate how easily the lighting can be automated and programmed for “just in time” use—turning on and off only when occupants enter the space—without needing a warm-up period to reach full intensity. The lamps perform much better than fluorescent lamps in cold temperatures, don’t contain mercury and can change color as needed to support plant growth and intangibles such as workers’ mood and productivity.

Speaking of mood, innovative products like the Sky LED PanelRedirecting to a non-government site can liven up dreary spaces without putting an expensive and leaky hole in the building envelope. The office light fixture has images on the lens, such as clouds, that make the panel look like a skylight. Imagine the boost that could give to people in a hospital waiting room or drab office cubicle.

The Sky LED panel is an affordable and energy-efficient alternative to installing a skylight. (Photo by Smart Lighting Solution)
The Sky LED panel is an affordable and energy-efficient alternative to installing a skylight. (Photo by Smart Lighting Solution)

The Philips Hue lamp may be just the technology to get your early-adopter customers excited about LEDs. The color, brightness and timing of the lamp can be controlled remotely with a smart phone, a pretty cool app to show off to your tech-savvy friends.

Learn more
Too many program managers focus entirely on energy savings and speak purely in engineering terms. Decisions makers, from homeowners to corporate CEOs, usually have other priorities more important to them. Western’s Energy Experts hotline provides a resource for documentation and program ideas to help utility program managers figure out what their customers’ priorities are and how energy-efficiency improvement projects can address them. Contact Energy Experts at 800-765-3756 or submit a technical question online, and don’t forget to browse through Energy SolutionsRedirecting to a non-government site and Utility Options for inspiration.