build contractor capacity: overview

Who is responsible for energy-efficiency upgrades?

As key first steps to improving residential energy efficiency, homeowners and renters can modify their behavior with regard to energy use and also make small changes like switching incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs or adding weather stripping to leaky windows and doors. However, achieving significant savings in highly energy-inefficient homes and ensuring the inclusion of energy-saving measures in new development will often require a more extensive intervention that includes work performed by a contractor or other industry professional. This section describes the various parties that may be involved in performing energy-efficiency retrofits and upgrades, and the steps that state and local governments can take to support their work, promote development of a skilled

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Rose Companies
workforce, and ensure that home- and property-owners receive high-quality results.

Why does it matter who performs the work?

Although "green" building and a focus on energy efficiency have become increasingly popular in recent years, the steps involved in conducting a home energy audit and improving the efficiency of new and existing structures may be unfamiliar even to experienced contractors. Without proper installation and maintenance, actual energy savings will likely fall short of projections, resulting in little or no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions or utility bills. For these and other reasons, many states and localities require families or rental property owners who participate in subsidy or incentive programs to work with certified contractors to make sure that practitioners have the training that they need to deliver optimal results. "Turn-key" programs, typically available to owners of large multifamily projects, go even farther to offer a one-stop shop that provides access to experts in all phases of an energy-efficiency project -- from audits and financing to building retrofits and post-improvement assessments.

Where is this most applicable?

Any energy-efficiency incentive or financing program will have limited success without a ready workforce. This is especially true in communities that may be in the process of trying to bring weatherization or energy-efficiency programs to scale and reach a larger number of families. To address this issue -- and in some cases simultaneously promote workforce development -- some communities and non-profit organizations have initiated job training programs that teach participants to carry out energy audits and install energy-efficient building components.

Learn more
about the entities involved in improving home energy-efficiency and the ways that state and local governments can work with contractors, property-owners and families to improve service deliver.

Go back to learn about other policies that make homes more energy efficient.