Memorial Day – What it means to me

While Memorial Day, a day to honor those who died in combat,  is not to be confused with Veterans Day, the day we honor all Veterans, I can’t help but think of those in my family who came before me in the service of our nation; regardless of whether they died in combat or not. I’m the eighth generation in the military on my father’s side. Both of my parents were Army brats. Let’s just say that it runs pretty deep!

My father’s father served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He saw a lot of the worst in humanity yet remained a thoughtful, gentle and compassionate man throughout his life. One of my deeper regrets is that my wife and children never met him. He was all that is good in a soldier (and sailor as he was a Seabee in WWII). Anyone currently serving would do well to emulate the dedication to nation and to his fellow human that he embodied.

Alva Lineal Byers died while I was attending Airborne School with the Army during one of my summers attending the Air Force Academy. I’m very thankful I was allowed to leave training to attend his memorial. I wasn’t able to attend his funeral at Arlington and it was years before I was able to visit his grave site, Section 65, Grave 4129. Walking through the grounds of Arlington is something that isn’t easily described. I felt great waves of gratitude and awe at the sheer number of graves. I felt small connections with those buried there as I read their headstones, many of them with their beloved buried along with them on the other side of their grave. My grandmother is buried there, the two of them sharing a headstone, head to head for eternity.

I’m deeply grateful to all of those who gave their lives in the service of this great nation. I’m grateful for their sacrifice that allowed me to serve and to continue to serve albeit in a very different capacity now. Since my Air Force days, I’ve dedicated my adult life to the work of reducing our consumption of energy. This isn’t the right place to discuss the deep interconnectedness of our lifestyle with energy, but it is what drives me ahead every day and I’m thankful to those who’ve made my choices and those of all of my fellow Americans possible.

Have a great weekend and please take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of those who died protecting our freedoms.

RaterFest! September 13th-15th, 2013

Stop. Exhale. Close your eyes. Wait, no… keep them open. Now inhale and repeat.  As you take in the crisp Colorado morning air, take in the awe inspiring surroundings of September in the Rocky Mountains. It’s hard to describe how beautiful Colorado is in late summer. It’s simply one of the best times of year to visit.

RaterFest! 2013 Site

As always, this year’s RaterFest is poised at this time of year to offer up the best of Colorado and provide you access to a few of our industries finest professionals.  Already, we have outdone ourselves with our speaker line-up, and we expect an early sell out for this year’s festivities.  We are excited and honored to announce this year’s keynote speaker; Mark LaLiberte.

New site for RaterFest! 2013

As a distinguished trainer, author, and consultant, Mark LaLiberte (of LaLiberte Online Inc. and Construction Instruction Inc.) has devoted over two decades to educating the home-building industry about the benefits of constructing durable, energy efficient, healthier, more environmentally sustainable homes. It’s his commitment to helping the building industry that keeps Mark traveling nationwide, reaching more than 8,000 builders annually. A very high demand presenter, Mark has been featured at leading industry events such as the NAHB International Builders Show, PCBC, West Coast Green, Sunbelt Builders Show, Energy Star Summit, GreenBuild and JLCLive conferences. Every energy and building professional (from rater to HERS provider, builder to LEED provider) should see Mark at least on time while working in our industry.

I’ve had the pleasure of hiring Mark to speak with a wide range of audiences throughout the years, including homeowners, builders, code officials, trades, and others.  Mark has the talent to comfortably engage with people at any technical level. There are few trainers that I’ve come across in my work with this ability.  Beyond his immense expertise and excellence in the home performance industry Mark is truly one of the best presenters working in our industry. If you haven’t seen Mark before, this is your opportunity!

RaterFest! 2012 View of Rocky Mountains

“This was my first RaterFest (2012) and I loved it. The overall energy of the conference was great and I think that there is something special about being at 7000′ with no cell phone service. The size and remoteness of this conference make it a unique experience. I felt that I really connected with some folks and did not miss the oversized trade-show atmosphere one bit.” 2012 RaterFest Participant

We hope you see you all there! RaterFest 2013

Matt Thornberry
Deputy Director of ePro Services
EnergyLogic Academy



Great Expectations – What Should You Expect from a Rater Candidate?

What should a HERS Provider expect from a prospective HERS Rater Candidate looking for either a job or a Provider?  Well, you would expect that having passed the core competency test and completed two ratings under the supervision of a HERS Trainer would mean that you could seamlessly begin the certification process. The Provider, which may or may not be the same company that did the training,  oversees the certification process. During the process, the candidate completes at least three more ratings to demonstrate competency to the Provider, the entity who will ultimately “create” a HERS Rater.  I’m afraid making the assumption that someone who has completed rater training is prepared for the industry bears out the old saying of what happens when you assume things.

As a RESNET Accredited HERS Provider (now called “QA Provider” in the RESNET Standards), we have rater candidates come to us from all over the United States.  Some of them have come through our own training with EnergyLogic Academy.  But others have obtained their training elsewhere.  Our experience has been, in many cases, that folks trained by some, let’s say less rigorous training organizations require significant additional training and in some more egregious cases, re-training to get to the level that we expect from a rater candidate.  Consider these first-hand accounts from students who have come from other trainings that we’ve worked with:

  • Never touched actual field equipment, they only got to watch the instructor
  • Twenty plus in a class with one instructor
  • Never visiting the field at all, i.e.  “from plans” only ratings
  • Training in a hotel conference room, never visiting the field

Here are our general impressions:

  • Most students come in with an absolutely minimal knowledge of REM/Rate
  • Most students didn’t get anything remotely like the field experience that we believe they should get in training
  • Most students relate to us that they have a very low comfort level with equipment

In summary, most students are NOT prepared to begin the next steps- Probationary Ratings with their HERS Rating/QA Provider.  It is the responsibility of the trainer to produce a student who can reasonably begin the process of becoming a certified Rater.  Trainers that can’t or won’t do that are doing a disservice to both the student and the industry.

From Scott Doyle, our Director of Energy Professional Services and our Lead HERS Trainer —

We think being a RESNET Accredited Rating Provider AND a rating company AND Rater Trainers changes our perspective.  How well should students be prepared after leaving Rater training?  How much should they know?  How sure do you need to be as a trainer that each and every student can run the diagnostic tests, gather field data, and properly represent the tested home with software modeling?  Well, if our RESNET Provider Seal is going on the reports that those raters give out to clients -or in the case of our own staff raters, the EnergyLogic name and company logo are right at the top of every report- they better have the best training possible.  Our name and reputation are on the line when a poorly trained Rater joins the workforce.  All RESNET Accredited Training Providers should understand this — bad training leads to incompetence in the workforce.  And that erodes the entire credibility of our industry.  If we expect to be here five or ten years from now, we had better hold ourselves and our students to a higher standard.

We take training very seriously and that’s why.

We recently rolled out an advanced online training for our Rater Partners and prospective Rater Partners to help fill these gaps.  We have always been stringent in our certification requirements, and now we have measurable results through our learning management system that can help in finding and filling those gaps.  

Steve Byers
Ratings, Software, Homeowner Services, Training & HERS Provider