Getting schooled: A Hands-on research project

I’m hitting the road. I am plotting my way around the US, to spend time with contractors of all different shapes and sizes. My car is packed (probably too packed), and I’m headed out. Why, you ask? I am a passionate advocate for the building performance industry. Over the last several years, I’ve focused my efforts on building mechanisms that make it easier for contractors to participate in programs, supporting policy changes that benefit industry growth, and worked directly with contractors on building their businesses around the concept of whole house solutions. 

However, I’ve spent most of my career behind a desk. I get out to contractors’ offices as much as I can, but rarely get the chance to get my hands dirty. To really understand the business. And to me, it feels like a key missing piece in my knowledge and experience. I inform governments and programs on how to support and engage contractors effectively, and I do so with the best information I have. But I’d like to do a better job of advocating for contractors doing the right thing at every level - it might be in a program, or as the Chairwoman of Efficiency First, or as someone who has the ear of Federal and regional programs that affect these business.

While in some areas I may visit more than one contractor, I will only do a “deep dive” where I spend a few days in the shop with one company. I’ll be signing non-disclosure agreements, and hopefully getting my hands dirty so long as i’m not in the way. I’ll be offering some fresh eyes and consulting in exchange for the opportunity to learn.

I’ve got contractors lined up in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, Arkansas, Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts. I’ve got a few more companies in the works in other states too. I’m not just working with home performance contractors, either. I’ll be spending time with some solar and HVAC companies too. If you’re interested in having me visit your contracting business, please drop me a line. If you don’t have a contracting business but want to buy me a drink, I’ll take that too. 

My first stop is to brush up on my energy audit skills, with the great John Costello in Southern California. I’ve set up a blower door probably twice in my life. Both times in a HERS class taught by Allison Bailles of Energy Vanguard fame 8 years ago. John’s got his work cut out for him.

Hope to see you on the road!