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Weatherization Training for South Carolina's Muggy Weather

June 22, 2010 - 3:46pm

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Trident Technical College in Charleston, SC., has added another sustainability component to its curriculum: weatherization.

A program already filled with renewable energy courses, TTC Green, now offers training and certification for technicians. This training, available for anyone from novices to the experienced, teaches how to weatherize the diverse array of homes in the muggy Charleston area to be more energy efficient.

Two of the school's continuing education courses, both under three weeks in length, offer certification to individuals with weatherization backgrounds, giving them additional credentials and skills in the industry. TTC Green also provides a seven-week course for individuals wishing to enter the industry.

Training for the area

The South Carolina environment provides extra weatherization challenges with staggering heat and moisture accumulation.

"We're in a bad zone," says Tim Fulford, TTC environment projects manager, regarding the problematic climate.

Typical air leaks in homes arise from holes and crevices, says Fulford, and these are the first items that are weatherized.

TTC specifically trains with mobile homes because of how prone the properties are to poor insulation and structural damage. Holes are frequently found in the walls of mobile homes which lead to energy loss. To combat these damages, students are trained with the college's mobile home on how to insulate in structure's challenging thin walls and prevent further deterioration and energy loss.

The town also has lots of old homes, says Russell Darnall, director of TTC Green.  So the college developed tools and processes to maintain the historical district values, as well as make them more energy efficient.

Additionally, the program provides training on weatherizing manufactured homes, a type of property prevalent in the Charleston area.

"People don't realize the energy consumption of mobile homes," says Fulford.

Poor insulation in the mobile homes, on top of the climate challenges, can make the situation worse for these residents. 

The school recently purchased a mobile home to provide hands-on training opportunities for students to learn how to deal with these challenges.

On average, weatherization reduces residents' monthly energy bills by 30 percent, according to the Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program.
 
"The community [in Charleston] doesn't realize what you can do with energy efficiency," says Fulford. "There is no negative. Who doesn't want to cut their energy bill?"

Infusing sustainability

The college has sought to instill sustainability in every aspect of its education. TTC Green was created roughly a year ago partly as a result of feedback provided to college president Mary Thornley from honors society and other students at the college.

"Through Dr. Thornley's efforts, the TTC Green Initiative was established as a means of expanding and showcasing TTC's sustainability efforts and energy efficiency" says Bill Landry, chair of Trident's TTC Green Steering Committee.

Thornley began this new initiative by signing the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), a high-visibility national effort to recognize a need to achieve climate neutrality through education, training and research.

One aspect of TTC Green is the college's solar installer certification training. With this program, funded by the State Energy Office, TTC is able to provide credentials and solar installation work for the newly certified technicians.

"This is not going to be a flavor of the day," says Darnall. "We as a college have a commitment to our students, community, and our future to create a sustainable campus and create a sustainable community."

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