STEP into the future: Solar training for design professionals is shaping the future of the solar industry

STEP into the future: Solar training for design professionals is shaping the future of the solar industry

STEP into the future: Solar training for design professionals is shaping the future of the solar industry

ICC-SRCC continues bringing valuable training in renewable technologies

As the solar industry matures and diversifies with more than one million solar installations now on homes and businesses throughout the United States, there is an increasing need for professionals outside the solar industry to learn more about solar technologies, both for safety and quality assurance. More code professionals are coming in contact with solar technologies in their day-to-day jobs, including electrical and building inspectors, local code officials, and fire fighters. They all have an important role in the rapidly changing clean energy economy.

If the solar sector is to continue growing in a safe and sustainable way, quality workforce training for industries that come in contact with solar technologies is imperative in order to enhance their expertise and add to their professional development toolkits. Recognizing this need, the ICC Solar Rating Certification Corporation (ICC-SRCC) — a member of the ICC Family of Companies — partnered with the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), the International Association of Fire Fighters and the National Association of State Fire Marshals to promote a solar resources and training program that integrates solar training into existing professional development platforms and provides training to code officials about solar installations.

The Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) program — funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative — addresses gaps in solar training and energy education, both within the solar workforce and in professions that play a crucial role in solar deployment. The two-year project aims to reach 100,000 industry professionals in the code official, inspection and firefighting sectors, with a goal of delivering direct training to 10,000 individuals at the end of two years. The grant for the STEP program is almost halfway complete. To date, the ICC-SRCC has issued Continuing Education Units to more than 900 ICC members in 22 metropolitan areas across the United States through the STEP training. With the ICC-SRCC being an ICC Preferred Provider, the Code Council has been able to offer meaningful and valuable training to its members free of charge.

The Solar Permitting Plan Review Course — developed by ICC-SRCC, IREC, IAEI and other partners — is 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 walks attendees through the review of a complete permit plan application. The training is 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 complete the training will be 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 comes 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.

The program’s goal is to increase the understanding and working knowledge of solar technology and practices in order to to ensure both safety and quality assurance. To date, the training appears to be successfully contributing to the deployment of high-quality solar training to electrical inspectors, installers and designers.

After completing the Solar Permitting Plan Review Course, ICC members completed an evaluation. Here’s what they said:

83% feel more prepared to work around solar electric systems after having taken the course.
85% can apply what they learned in the course immediately to their jobs.
78% feel empowered to make decisions in their jobs regarding solar system permit plans.
88% would recommend the course to their friends and colleagues.

The impact of the STEP training is designed to go well beyond the two-year award period. Since the resources and training will be integrated into existing professional training programs, the valuable training in renewable technologies won’t end with this collaboration. The ICC-SRCC will continue to work on bringing valuable training in renewable technologies either in person or online in the future.

For more information on the STEP training, contact ICC-SRCC Executive Director Eileen Prado.

 


Solar Permitting Plan Review Course to be offered at ICC’s Annual Conference

Join national solar plan review expert Jerry Henderson at the interactive, in-person Solar Permitting Plan Review Course being offered Sept. 13 at ICC’s Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Learn how to successfully evaluate a complete solar permit package to ensure it is compliant with building, fire and electrical codes relevant to your jurisdiction, with an emphasis on how to catch the most frequent installation errors, while earning 0.6 Continuing Education Units. Don’t wait to register. This class is limited to 100 people and registration is required.

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