Building a strong link between green home sales, construction

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To better prepare residential home contractors in recognizing and identifying energy efficiency needs, AFC First Financial Corp. in Wescosville near Allentown launched the Green Energy Training Academy.

But rather than focusing on technical certifications, the academy will target the development of practical skills that contractors need to run a successful business. These marketing, sales and financial skills can be directly applied to a consumer-focused approach in the online courses.

The first course, Home Performance 101, gives an overview of building science principles for contractors, which also could be informative for homeowners and real estate agents interested in energy efficiency, the company said.

“Our primary focus is working with contractors, certifying them on how to be ‘green’ contractors,” said Peter Krajsa, CEO of AFC First Financial Corp. “Millions and millions of people have aging houses. We realized there was a real market for energy efficiency.”

Contractors need more training in green energy efficiencies, but they also need the skills to translate this information to consumers, giving them the tools to look at a person’s house as a comprehensive unit, Krajsa said.

Programs are offered through a network of 2,000 approved contractors; AFC First partnered with Direct Learning Systems to offer the academy.

According to Krajsa, AFC First is the administrator for Pennsylvania’s Keystone Help Energy Efficiency Loan and Rebate Program, the state’s official Energy Star and energy efficiency program, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Treasury, the state Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

Contractors who are approved to offer AFC First’s consumer energy financing, such as Keystone Help, will attain the status of “trained” contractor upon completion of the course, according to the company.

This course exposes participants to a holistic way of doing energy improvements.

Contractors involved in this program specialize in cooling, heating, windows and doors, insulation and renewable energy.

“Our business, it’s a very fast growing segment of the marketplace; it’s not only energy savings, it’s comfort,” Krajsa said.

The academy launched in June and since that time, AFC First reports, 15 participants have registered. The company’s goal is to develop the academy as a national program, Krajsa said.

“We’re very excited about this new launch and about educating contractors and homeowners and increasing their comfort as well,” said Susan Moring, marketing manager for AFC First and director for the Green Energy Training Academy.

Information about the program can be found at www.greenenergytrainingacademy.com.

Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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