To the layperson, words like infiltration testing, thermal imaging, and zonal diagnostics may bring to mind science fiction, but to twenty Habitat for Humanity affiliates in nine states, such terminology is a regular part of job site dialogue thanks to training they received from CHP’s Energy Solutions Research and Training team.
The on-site trainings were made possible by a $50,000 NeighborWorks America collaborative grant, whereby CHP provided almost 40 Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) staff members from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida hands-on field training and mentoring in building science, energy efficiency, and health and safety.
As the scope of Habitat’s work expands to include the rehabilitation and retrofitting of existing homes, a number of affiliates recognized a growing need to learn more about the building performance of older housing stock, and so reached out to CHP for expert training in the field.
Between August 2012 and August 2013, CHP’s certified trainers traveled to several rural locales on the east coast to teach three-day sessions on performing both interior and exterior home inspections; identifying locations for air infiltration, moisture, structural concerns; and remedying health and safety issues.
CHP Energy Solutions Director of Training Phil Hull stated that the goal of the training was to, “better prepare the Habitat affiliates for the very specific issues and conditions associated with rehab work and how important it is to address the house as a whole system. Everything is interdependent, so we wanted to show how when one part functions poorly it affects the performance of the entire energy system.”
According to Hull, an understanding of building science can greatly improve the health, safety and comfort of the homes being built and/or rehabilitated. “This training also resulted in the increased energy efficiency of homes, which means a significant reduction in both heating and cooling costs, ultimately resulting in financial savings for the residents,” explained Hull.
“In addition, CHP helped enhance the skill sets of Habitat staffers in an ever-greening construction industry. These are skills that will be relevant and applicable for a very long time.”
John Blake, a construction team leader with Habitat for Humanity of Prince William County Manassas and Manassas Park in Mannassas, Virginia and CHP trainee said that although he had over 35 years of construction experience and had over time acquired some weatherization skills, his training with CHP made him realize how limited his knowledge was, “in many ways.” Blake wrote that he plans to continue learning, “so that more can be done for the people we are helping through Habitat.”