Workforce Development

Workforce Development for Energy Code Enforcement

Local governments across the United States are increasingly enacting policies and offering programs to drive energy savings, but the success of these activities is inextricably linked to a strong, capable energy efficiency workforce. To ensure that trained workers are available to capitalize on efficiency investments, local governments can set workforce development goals, coordinate training programs, and provide equal access to opportunities to workers and businesses. They can also institute equity-focused energy efficiency workforce development programs and targets to extend these benefits to underserved community members, according to the research report, "Through the Local Government Lens: Developing the Energy Efficiency Workforce."

View the topics below, and visit the model policy and resource page for more information.

Getting Started

Workforce development programs provide an avenue to ensure the existence of a future and present skilled workforce.  A key component of achieving energy efficient and low carbon buildings is having a robust building code workforce. Regardless of the version of the code, or incentive program adopted, energy savings and carbon reductions will not be realized without professional enforcement. As the building systems and codes advance to include new and innovative technologies, and achievement of low carbon goals are further integrated into the model codes, the professionals responsible for adoption, implementation and  compliance must have the knowledge and skillset required to advance with them. Establishing a diverse and comprehensive workforce will allow jurisdictions to better prepare for the implementation of modern and innovative technologies and advanced codes.

Prior to establishing a workforce development plan, it is important to analyze the current landscape of the existing workforce, what educational programs are available, and whether they provide education, certification or the degree necessary to begin a career. Determine how the current code professionals integrate training and education into their job. With over 25 areas of discipline to choose from in the building code sector, it is important to determine the current needs of the jurisdiction and develop a specific plan for outreach and education around those needs. It is also helpful to collaborate with neighboring jurisdictions to identify areas of overlap and peer to peer education opportunities. It is important to consider the current economic situation of the AHJ, the availability of the current staff to participate in educational opportunities and the gaps in education.

A career in the code professional industry requires, at a minimum, a high-school diploma or equivalent. Depending on the area of discipline, additional requirements can vary across states and jurisdictions. Individuals interested in the code profession should consult the ICC website for guidance and resources on careers in code enforcement  as well as education, certification options and resources for other areas of discipline.

Existing Workforce

While keeping an eye on the development of a new workforce is necessary, the current workforce must also be provided with the tools and educational opportunities needed to keep current with modern technologies and updated codes.

The ICC’s Major Jurisdictions Committee (MJC) coordinates the compilation of lessons learned from around the country through publication of the Best Practices guide. Code professionals do not consistently have the luxury of stepping away from the daily requirements of their jobs to participate in educational workshops or seminars, creating a gap in education as well as a lack of awareness of modern and innovative technologies, and updated codes. Discovering the balance between providing quality service to the communities and arming the code professionals with the knowledge needed is a delicate act.

Next Generation

In 2014 the ICC and the National Institute of Building Science (NIBS) partnered on a study to understand what the future of the code profession looked like. During this study it was discovered that about 85 percent of the current code professional workforce was over the age of 45 and many were on the verge of retirement. With most of the profession getting closer to retirement, it is necessary that the younger generation be educated about the industry and the many possibilities for a rewarding career.

Since it is expected that within a finite amount of time the current building professionals will be retiring, taking their institutional knowledge with them; it is glaringly obvious that investing in the future workforce now is critical to making the transition seamless. Integrating code specific curriculum into an existing STEM or STEAM program within a K-12 school district would provide exposure at any earlier age allowing for the younger generation to become familiar with the profession and start thinking about it as a career option. Another path could be to develop and implement a code curriculum in local community colleges providing an avenue to increase educational opportunities and potentially aiding in career placement.

Establishing a comprehensive suite of activities designed to educate and excite K-12 students, can be a way for jurisdictions to begin exposure of the profession to the younger generation. Scholarships, high school signing days, career day booths, presentations from local code professionals, and recognition from community leadership are examples of such activities. These activities could complement each other or stand alone as individual events.

Training and education can be impactful, and several models are available including focused issue-based training, site education, circuit riders and more traditional broad-based code training.  The most effective training provides audience-specific delivery targeted to its needs; technical assistance to key stakeholders; and circuit rider programs to ensure that the building, design and enforcement industry has the required resources to design, build and enforce energy codes.

Innovation and Best Practices

Jurisdictions can learn from peers through workshops, case studies and best practices in order to advance the knowledge and skillset of the existing workforce. There are multiple training opportunities and certification programs that can be found within the resources section of the ICC website. Below are two innovative strategies for expanding the energy code workforce.

The Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC), in partnership with the Illinois EPA Office of Energy, has developed an Energy Code Training Program which offers workshops, webinars, online trainings, resources and technical support to the industry. Currently, SEDAC in partnership with the State of Hawaii and the State of Nevada are undergoing a pilot program that incorporates energy code training at the community college level. The program, if successful, will be a template for other states and jurisdictions to expand the code profession workforce. This is one example of a way to get new professionals interested and knowledgeable on energy codes, thus developing the future workforce.

To ensure a robust pool of qualified candidates are ready to step into the shoes of the current building professionals, the Building Officials Association of Texas (BOAT) has facilitated Career Development Days as part of their annual conference since 2017. "These full-day workshops invite young professionals preparing to enter the workforce to participate in educational activities and network with industry leaders in an effort to demonstrate the tremendous opportunities associated with a career in the code enforcement industry."

Resources

Visit the International Code Council energy resources page for more information.

Code Enforcement Webinar: Effective Communication

Officer safety is of vital importance and being aware of your surroundings plays a big part of keeping you safe. This class will go over tactics that will aid in assessing and responding to different situations while in the course of compliance inspections as well as it will cover some verbal judo techniques to assist in de-escalating tense situations. Being able to get out of situations without the need of physical contact and before situations escalate is vital.

Code Enforcement Webinar: Dealing With Hazmat and Hoarding Properties

There will be times when the inspector or code enforcement officer will come across a hazmat situation requiring assistance from other departments. It is vital to know when to call for assistance and what protocols should be used. Hoarding is also an ever growing condition found throughout the states. The focus on this topic will be geared on how to properly conduct inspections in situations were hoarding has created a hazard that affects not just the occupant, the public, but also the inspector performing the inspection.

Code Enforcement Webinar: Joint Enforcement Safety

This class will focus on the role of the code enforcement officer when conducting joint enforcement inspections with other departments such as; police, fire, building, Adult/Child Protective Services, as well as any other enforcement agency. It will discuss scenarios as well as how to assess if joint enforcement is needed and how to successfully plan for joint enforcement (Agency Assist).

Code Enforcement Webinar: Mental Illness and Code Enforcement

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the US suffer from mental illness and the numbers increase when it comes to serious mental illness. Many times code enforcement officers are tasked with inspections where they may come across an individual that may suffer some sort of mental illness and the approach to these situations are vital in keeping the code officer safe. On the flipside, it is also important to understand how to protect the code enforcement officer from PTSD as a result of traumatic events as related to code enforcement. This class will discuss Mental Health tactics in the field, as well as mental health tactics for the Code Enforcement Officer.

Code Enforcement Webinar: Gang Awareness for the Code Enforcement Officer

Some cities or counties are up against gang ridden communities. Officer safety is essential in the approach of such communities. This course will serve to provide indicators of gang activity as well as give a review of what some of these gangs are, their history, and make-up. We will also focus on how to safely approach communities when conducting compliance inspections.

Code Enforcement Webinar: Drug Awareness for the Code Enforcement Officer

The rise in drug houses as related to code enforcement has increased safety concerns. Adding to the mix in some states, cannabis residential and commercial grows. This course will give an overview of drug trends and what to look for to prevent exposure to dangerous substances while conducting field inspections as well as hazardous conditions as related to these.

Code Enforcement Webinar: Officer Safety in Hazardous Buildings

Compliance inspections encompass a variety of complaints. Some of those complaints may include dilapidated structures. It is important for code enforcement officers to recognize building hazards so as to prevent injury to oneself. This course will look at what may constitute a building hazard in a structure and help assist the code officer with safety protocols.

Basic Code Enforcement Seminar

This seminar educates new code officials in basic concepts of code enforcement and provides an opportunity to master skills that are fundamental to performing the duties of a code official. This course will enhance your understanding of the code and its basic concepts.