Pictured (left-right): IREC Board Chairman Larry Shirley (president of Shirley Associates), IREC Director of Workforce Development Laure-Jeanne Davignon, ICC-SRCC Vice President of Technical Services Shawn Martin, and IREC Board Director Ken Jurman (renewable energy program manager with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy).

National leaders in the clean energy industry, elected officials, policymakers and advocates gathered in support of a strong sustainable energy future at the Intersolar North America Conference on July 12 in San Francisco, Calif. During an awards ceremony, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) honored its 2018 3iAward recipients and four special IREC Energy Heroes: the International Code Council (ICC), the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) for their commitment to helping IREC and for supporting clean energy policies and programs in the United States.

Recognizing their “remarkable and tireless commitment to the expansion of clean energy” the four organizations are partners in the United States Department of Energy’s Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) program — funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative — which addresses the increasing need for professionals outside the solar industry to learn more about solar technologies, both for safety and quality assurance.

As municipal code officials often wear multiple hats and fire fighters across the U.S. are becoming more aware of the critical need to be up-to-date on the latest solar technologies and codes, the ICC Solar Rating Certification Corporation (ICC-SRCC) — a member of the ICC Family of Companies — partnered with IREC, IAEI, IAFF and NASFM to promote a solar resources and training program that integrated solar training into existing professional development platforms and provided solar installations training to code professionals that play a crucial role in solar deployment.

The two-year Solar Permitting Plan Review Course aimed to reach industry professionals in the code official, inspection and firefighting sectors. In just 18 months, more than 5,000 building and electrical inspectors and planners — and more than 5,000 fire fighters — participated in unique online and live interactive, scenario-based solar training courses to learn the basics of solar technologies thanks to the commitment and work of these organizations.

“Technical training doesn’t have to be boring to be effective,” said IREC Director of Workforce Development Laure-Jeanne Davignon. “Spreading the word about the value of the training and engaging their professionals — that’s what we celebrate in these IREC Energy Heroes.”

ICC-SRCC Vice President of Technical Services Shawn Martin.

The program was an interactive, in-person course designed to provide a practical process for consistent plan review, with an emphasis on how to catch the most frequent installation errors. Taught by a national expert in solar plan review, the six-hour course walked attendees through the review of a complete permit plan application. The training was specially designed to educate those who conduct building plan reviews and building and electrical inspections, as well as professionals who design, assemble or submit solar plans. Those who completed the training were able to evaluate a complete solar permit package to ensure it is compliant with building, fire and electrical codes relevant to a jurisdiction.

A majority of the training content came from the 2015 International Solar Energy Provisions (ISEP). The ICC-SRCC donated more than 500 free downloads of the ISEP to students who completed the course as part of its contribution to the project.

“We salute the 5,000-plus firefighters across the U.S. who are now ‘solar smarter’ because of their commitment to the most current training,” said IREC President and Chief Executive Officer Larry Sherwood. “We honor these Energy Heroes for their resolve to offer the best professional development and training in the wake of exponential growth of solar.”