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Hi folks,

I just completed an intense one week course to become a HERS rater. It may interest folks to hear about the experience. For folks who don't know, HERS is the Home Energy Rating Standard. It scores a home's energy efficiency in comparison with a hypothetical reference home of the same size and in the same climate, built to 2006 code. A score of 100 is equivalent. A score of 80 is 20% more efficient than the reference home. A home that approaches 0 is a net-zero home, meaning it produces whatever energy in consumes on site.

A HERS rating measures things like insulation, air leakage, and the efficiency of heating, cooling, hot water and other appliances.

A HERS rating does not penalize large homes. It does not consider the lifestyle of occupants, and presumes an occupancy rate of # of bedrooms +1. It also doesn't consider the embodied energy of building materials, or other qualities like durability.

Despite its limitations, the HERS rating is one of the most comprehensive standardized systems for evaluating a home. It was created by the "mortgage industry" to help home buyers borrow more money (through Energy Efficiency Mortgages), and help home builders/realtors sell energy saving features. The HERS score is an easy way to compare and market homes without requiring any knowledge of building science on behalf of the consumer.

The class I took had eight people. We were all white men. There was quite a bit of age range however, from 20s to 40s. The class was held in Manchester, New Hampshire, but students came from as far away and Maryland and DC. I would guess about a third of the class had some progressive attitudes. There was one other vegan who worked for a non-profit. Another guy was working for an electric utility co-op. But the rest were just regular workers who were looking for better jobs, or to get promoted within their company. While nobody questioned climate change, it was clear some of them were pro-gun and pro-Kavanaugh!

Legislation has been proposed in Massachusetts to require all home sales get a HERS score. This would greatly expand the need for HERS raters! I don't expect our legislature to vote on this anytime soon. But I do think HERS ratings will become more popular, one way or another.

As eco-socialists, I believe we should be organizing these "green-collar" workers for better working conditions as well as to be leaders for climate action; not to mention challenging systemic racism and sexism in the industry. I encourage climate activists to consider this career path. If you are comfortable with basic math and geometry, using a tape measure, and reading floor plans, this is work you can do. The class was online for two weeks, then one week in person. My next step will be to conduct 5 ratings with supervision. Then I will be eligible for certification. This is a relatively low bar to entry, when you compare it to other professions that require specialized degrees.

The course was offered by The BER (Building Energy Resources): Building Efficiency Resources, LLC - The BER - HERS Rater Provider

Sandra Lindberg

This is my favorite sentence in your post, though the whole piece was really informative:
"As eco-socialists, I believe we should be organizing these "green-collar" workers for better working conditions as well as to be leaders for climate action; not to mention challenging systemic racism and sexism in the industry."

I am hearing from workers and people who know them that constructing windmills, especially when the projects are foreign owned, can be a very tough job: 12-14 hour days for 3 or 4 days, and then a few days off usually spent in a motel. It's good money but very hard on workers' family lives. In other words, green energy is not necessarily coming with better working conditions--they are still being treated as contract labor. This is an ugly and little talked about aspect of the renewable energy industry. Are you hearing about anything like this out east?

Glad you got that certification. I will share your post with the Greater Decatur Black Chamber of Commerce, which I think will be interested in these ideas.