Performance Matters - E-Newsletter - June 2009
- Following the Stimulus Funds
- The BPI Affiliate network continues to grow
- Industry News: The American Clean Energy and Security Act Passes
- Industry News: Announcing the Winner of the Inaugural Tony Woods Award for Excellence in Advancing the Home Performance Industry
- Industry News: 2009 Building Performance Industry Hall of Fame Inductions
- Industry News: Home Performance Industry Loses an Icon
- Industry News: Are you LinkedIn?
- Industry News: Efficiency First Gains Momentum
- Joe’s Marketing Corner
Everyone in the home performance industry is talking about a "perfect storm" thanks to the economic stimulus package, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). With billions of dollars available to improve the performance of America's existing housing stock, this is the optimum time to capitalize on the opportunity and experience exponential growth.
But there is a long way between a government promise and cash in a contracting company's bank account. How do you ensure you get your slice of the stimulus pie?
You can track the flow of funds at the federal level on a website specially built for the purpose. www.recovery.gov was launched to provide accountability and transparency, and provides news, an FAQ section and links to federal agencies and state programs that have received (or will receive) funding.
Visit the map on www.recovery.gov, and click on your state for a link to your area's own recovery website, where you can find information on local projects and incentive programs. You can also check out the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which has created a section on its website that outlines HUD's implementation of the recovery act, lists various state-level programs that will be supported and provides weekly updates on progress.
You can also search for specific Federal government projects at www.FedBizOpps.gov. Registration is not required to simply view opportunities, although creating a free account is recommended by the site as it allows you to save search terms for future use. The site offers a Vendor Guide to help those unfamiliar with government bidding and using the site itself. Remember that you will need to apply for a D-U-N-S number and register at the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) if you want to actually bid on a Federal government project.
Another great resource that can help you help your homeowner customers is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Click on your state to be connected with an overview and direct link to almost every incentive program available to homeowners in your jurisdiction.
REMINDER: Affiliates should also note the opportunities presented by $500 million allotted for the training of a green-collar workforce in the ARRA. BPI will work directly with each of its Affiliate organizations to prepare proposals to State Energy Offices and state and local weatherization agencies on expanding BPI related training and credentialing. Please contact Larry Zarker at LZarker@bpi.org for more information.
BPI is pleased to announce the continued expansion of our Affiliate network, which now provides workforce training in 70 locations across the country. Meet our newest 12 Affiliates.
ASTRACOR in Alexandria, Virginia, was founded in 2006 with the assistance of a grant from Governor Tim Kaine's office, as a Virginia State approved WIB program. As a non-profit 501 (c)3 organization with additional grant funding from HIP (Hispanics in Philanthropy) and SkillsUSA, a vocational co-curricular student organization, ASTRACOR provides bilingual skill and business training to approximately 1500 members. Along with being the only Spanish-language approved Virginia DPOR contractor certification provider, ASTRACOR could be break new ground with BPI by offering bilingual training in home performance.
Building Science Academy, LLC in Sparta, MI, is dedicated to providing certified training to America's home performance workforce—ranging from energy auditors and raters to contractors who will lead the way in retrofitting America's 138 million homes. By using a "whole-house" performance approach, students will become familiar with a comprehensive range of interrelated building issues and be able to provide clients with a more comfortable, safe, durable, and energy-efficient home. Contact us for date openings and locations for our Building Analyst Professional, Envelope Professional and other training courses offered in our Michigan facilities.
Center for Ecological Technology (CET) in Pittsfield, MA, is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, promoting practical, affordable solutions to the environmental challenges encountered in our daily activities. For three decades, CET has been promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, recycling, materials re-use, and composting throughout western Massachusetts and surrounding communities. CET provides technical assistance and education to residents, businesses, municipalities, builders, code officials, and schools. CET is accredited by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) as a home energy ratings provider and is designated by USGBC as a LEED for Homes (LEED-H) provider.
Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, NY, is part of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Building Science program administered under Hudson Valley Community College through a grant with NYSERDA. We are currently a training center for the Building Analyst program. The program is being administered by Mark Retersdorf (518-762-4651, ext. 8802 or firstname.lastname@example.org). The lead instructors for the program are Ben Conte and Todd Stallmer. Both Ben and Todd will be teaching the course as well as proctoring the BPI certification exam.
GrEEnCollarEdu.net in Heron, MT, is your source for comprehensive education and training programs that support nationally recognized standards from across the green building and green trades industries in areas such as building performance, renewable energy systems, green remodeling, insulation, air sealing, fenestrations and the HVAC/R industry.
Green Energy Audit Certification in Austin, TX, part of the Austin Institute of Real Estate, in conjunction with Building Performance Institute and Performance Systems Development, provides the technical training and testing (both in the classroom and field examinations) for persons who desire certification as approved City of Austin energy auditors. Upon completion of the course work and field testing, the person will become a certified Building Analyst Professional.
Invisible Energy in Denver, CO, is led by Rich Moore, who has worked in the field of residential energy conservation performing energy audits, weatherization services, training, and consultation for homeowners and builders since 1984. He has been a regular presenter at numerous regional and national conferences and has served as a trainer and Training Center Coordinator for the Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation weatherization program. Invisible Energy offers a full line of residential energy conservation consultation services and training for builders, energy professionals, and home owners.
Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, MI, provides comprehensive training in construction technology, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Utilizing a state-of-the-art building science lab at the schools energy demonstration center, NMC students are provided with hands-on training in Construction, HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Energy Efficiency, and Renewable Energy. For program and schedule information, please visit the website www.nmc.edu/energy.
PAHEC & Environspec Ltd. in Honesdale, PA, provides a full range of residential and commercial building energy audits and evaluations. Energy audits and improvements are performed to BPI standards. We have been in the inspection business for 19 years. We are also providing BPI certification courses for Building Analyst Professional and Envelope Professional. Call 570-253-1941 or email email@example.com for more information.
SUNY Canton in Canton, NY, offers courses in renewable energy and sustainable building design. We provide our students with a strong background in wind, solar, geothermal, and, most importantly, energy conservation. Our faculty has years of hands-on experience with energy issues and building science, some holding professional licensure and doctorate degrees. Through the BPI courses in Building Analyst, and Envelope Professional, we extend a helping hand to local contractors desiring to assist homeowners with their energy remodeling projects. Please visit our website for the most current training schedule and location of our classes.
Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY, is part of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Building Science program administered under Hudson Valley Community College through a grant with NYSERDA. We are currently a training center for the Building Analyst program. This spring, we will be expanding to include the Envelope Professional program and this summer, we should be adding the Heating and Cooling curriculums. The program is being administered by Steve Leone (914-606-6658 or firstname.lastname@example.org). The lead instructor for the program is Kary Ioannou (914-606-8561 or kary.Ioannou@sunywcc.edu). Kary will be teaching the courses as well as proctoring the BPI certification exams in each curriculum.
Wisdom & Associates Inc. in Kenai, AK, is a home inspection firm located in Alaska. In addition to existing and code compliance inspections, they also provide energy ratings, indoor air quality assessments, and training to professions within the building industry. Their unique position of working in the field and gaining firsthand experience and knowledge of current industry issues and standards allows their instructors to bring their field experience and observations back into the classroom. The Wisdom & Associates, Inc. approach to education is apply building code, building science, green building, and other topics with real word examples, experiences and applications.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act Passes
The Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 2454, "The American Clean Energy and Security Act," on May 21, 2009, by a vote of 33 to 25. This legislation is intended to be a comprehensive approach to America's energy policy that charts a new course towards a clean energy economy.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act is expected to create millions of new clean energy jobs, save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, enhance America's energy independence, and cut global warming pollution. To meet these goals, the legislation has four main areas:
- Clean energy—promote renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, clean electric vehicles, and the smart grid and electricity transmission.
- Energy efficiency—increase energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation, and industry.
- Global warming—place limits on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants to cut global warming pollution by 17% compared to 2005 levels in 2020, by 42% in 2030, and by 83% in 2050 (science-based targets and within the range agreed to by USCAP).
- Protection—protect American consumers and industry and promotes green jobs during the transition to a clean energy economy.
Announcing the Winner of the Inaugural Tony Woods Award for Excellence in Advancing the Home Performance Industry
Matt Golden, President of Sustainable Spaces Inc., has been named the first-ever recipient of the Tony Woods Award for Excellence in Advancing the Home Performance Industry in a ceremony at the Opening Plenary of the ACI National Conference in Kansas City, MI.
Golden was nominated by his peers for his dedication to, and activism in, the home performance industry. You can read more about the award and Matt Golden here.
Also part of the ACI Opening Plenary session, three new individuals were inducted into the Building Performance Industry Hall of Fame. Nominated by their peers and selected by a panel made up of current Hall of Fame members, these individuals were recognized for their significant and lasting contributions to the building performance industry over the course of their careers. The new inductees are John Tooley, Linda Wigington and Helen Perrine. You can read more about the Hall of Fame Inductees here.
Tony Woods, member of the BPI Board of Directors and founder of Canam Building Envelope Specialists and ZERODRAFT®, passed away on May 8, 2009, after a valiant battle with cancer.
From bungalow to skyscraper, school to seat of government and all points in between, Mr. Woods improved the performance of almost every type of structure. He was a true pioneer of building performance and the systems approach, blazing a trail with his smoke pencil and can of polyurethane foam since the early 1970s, and co-founding Canam Building Envelope Specialists Inc. in 1980 and launching the ZERODRAFT line of weatherization products in the mid-1990s.
You can read more about the life of Tony Woods here. Donations may be made in memory of Mr. Woods online to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's "Light the Night Walk" at www.lightthenight.org. Or you can sponsor his team, "Tony's Tigerrrrrrs" for the Toronto walk at www.lightthenight.ca.
LinkedIn is a high-profile social networking site for professionals, and now there is a RESNET BPI Energy Audit and Home Performance group. Come join the conversations on topics that range from job opportunities to marketing your business, from safety tips to how-tos and from program and industry news to where to take BPI CEUs. To join LinkedIn, visit www.linkedin.com. Already a LinkedIn member? Click here to see the BPI group profile and join the fun!
This issue, we"re featuring a guest column from Richard Willingham, President of BPI's marketing communications agency, motum b2b, and a frequent presenter on marketing topics at industry events such as ACI national and regional conferences.
Online marketing can help you build your business
The Internet has revolutionized the way people interact with one another. In the old days (think the 1980s), the mass media—television, radio and print—controlled the message, and for the most part different media outlets covered the same stories with a limited degree of differing opinion.
Today, whether you love it or hate it, the Internet has enabled everyone with access to a computer to tell their own story and share their own experiences.
So what does this have to do with your home performance business? Plenty. Your next customers are online. They're doing research. They're exchanging ideas. They're sharing information (and sometimes misinformation). They're looking for a solution to their particular problem. All you have to do is show them why you're the right choice.
Your corner of cyberspace
If your company doesn't have a website, you need one (and if you have one already, now is a good time to evaluate and update as needed). Keep it simple. Remember all Joe's great advice about "finding the pain' and apply it to planning your navigation to make it easy for visitors to find what they're looking for.
Crisp, clean designs work best. Use colors that go well together and try to put heavy blocks of text as dark type on white or light backgrounds so it's easier to read. Don't overcrowd your pages and avoid the temptation to use too many moving or rotating elements as they distract the visitor's eye.
Tell your company's story the same way you tell it in a face-to-face conversation with a prospective customer. Ask questions about potential 'pain points' and provide answers regarding what the cause could be and how you can help to solve it. Back up your facts with links to relevant pages on the ENERGY STAR® or BPI websites, or to good articles you find online. If there are incentive programs in your area, make sure you provide some info on those and links so homeowners visiting your site know you can help them with that process, too.
Make sure you have a way for visitors to contact you quickly. An online form is great if someone is checking and following up on a regular basis. Put your email and phone numbers in prominent places so people can contact you. Some people like the phone, others prefer email, so be sure to give them the option.
If you build it, will they come?
A good website is only the first step in an online marketing program. You need to drive visitors to it. Include your web address on all your signage (including your vehicles), business cards and literature. Put it on all your advertising, and if you're listed in any online directories like YellowPages.com or your local Better Business Bureau site, make sure your listing includes a link to your website.
You've probably heard about social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and YouTube. Those are the "biggies" that everyone knows about, but there are smaller, more specialized online forums too.
Sites like these are great tools you can use to build awareness for your business and drive visitors to your company website. Big brands and marketing types like me call it "social media marketing" but it's really just having conversations with people. Finding those conversations takes a little time and some research, but once you identify sites that suit your needs, you can participate in these online communities by sharing your expertise as a home performance professional.
Here's how it works.
You come across a post in an online community from someone who is complaining about a drafty, uncomfortable house. You jump in, introduce yourself as a BPI qualified home performance specialist and start asking those "find the pain" questions. You enter into a dialogue with that individual about his or her house. You educate. You provide valuable information. You help them find answers. Every time you post a comment, include your website domain name and a link.
All the time you're having that one-on-one conversation, there are many people observing it. They're reading that dialogue—they might even jump in with questions about their own houses—and benefiting from the information sharing that's going on. You get to be the expert. You're demonstrating why you're different from other contractors or remodelers. You're establishing yourself as a trusted resource. When the time comes for the people in that community to think about solving their own home performance pain, you're the top-of-mind solution and they know how to find your website.
10 important things to remember if you embark on social media marketing:
- Be transparent. When you comment on a story, join a message board or write a blog post, be open about the fact you're in the home performance contracting business.
- Share expertise. Provide value with your comments or blog posts—it will garner respect and drive interested people to your website (remember to sign off every post with your domain name and a link to your site).
- Don't sling mud. Never denigrate the competition or post a negative comment without being able to back it up with cold hard facts you can link to—on someone else's website (for example, link to a page on the ENERGY STAR® or BPI website, not a page on your own website).
- Know your audience. Tailor your posts to the knowledge level of that community—some DIYers are good at technical stuff, but most homeowners don't understand the house-as-a-system concept and are going to need really simple explanations of why a blower door test can help them, or why leaky ducts could be behind their high energy bills.
- Don't limit your activity to people who already know you. Include your industry peers in your efforts, but don't "preach to the choir." Find ways to reach current and future customers as much as possible.
- Circle back. This is about having a dialogue, so return regularly to places you've posted or commented before to check for responses and answer any questions.
- Be patient. Sometimes it can take a while to find the right conversations to join. In some cases you may want to start the conversation instead of waiting for someone else to bring the subject up.
- Ask questions to foster dialogue. People feel compelled to respond and share their own experiences.
- Be brave. Not everyone on the Internet is going to agree with your posts, and not everyone is going to back up their counter-argument with fact. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and monitor the conversation before posting to get an idea of the type of response you might provoke—and whether your post will add value to the conversation and to your business.
- Have some fun. It's called social media marketing because it's about talking to new people and expanding your network, sharing ideas and learning new things.
I'd like to thank Joe for letting me take over his column for this issue. He'll be back in the next issue of Performance Matters to share more of his marketing wisdom.
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