Home Innovation Insights

Amber Wood, PE
July 12, 2012

NTER-active New Training Platform for Energy Efficiency

I thought that my student days were over, but now I’m discovering the need for continuing education credits. This all started because I just passed a large milestone in my career, and am now a professional engineer. In addition, about eight of us at Home Innovation Labs became certified Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Analyst & Envelope Professionals earlier in 2012. Where does that leave us? With everyone else that needs continuing education credits for their certifications and professional designations – searching for just the right training, at the right time, delivered in the right format to meet our CE requirements. Happily, however, we may be working on the solution to our very own challenge. 

I would like to introduce you to NTER (National Training and Education Resource), developed by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EERE realized that the home building industry at large was currently providing training and education in much the same way it always has, missing out on some valuable new tools for teaching and learning. Enter NTER – an online platform for immersive education. What does that mean? Simply put, NTER is a platform that uses a web browser for 3D online learning (read: gaming). 


Of course, even with this new high-tech system, you can still upload classic PowerPoint presentations with learning objectives, the training course, and review questions. But NTER allows for so much more. DOE’s intent with this new platform is to cover everything from training for a contractor on air sealing, to a college-level course on building science. The really snazzy NTER toys, however, are the courses that are situational. For example, there is a Combustion Appliance Zone Testing (CAZ) training program that will show you a floor of a house and you have to go around and close windows and open doors to determine your CAZ. If you try it again, you will have an entirely different set-up to figure out. Even better, NTER has authoring tools that come as part of the software that allow you to author your own 3D courses. And did I mention the software is free?. 


The Home Innovation Research Labs has had the opportunity to be part of this elite team during the initial phases of NTER development. We were hired to find existing valuable content to help populate NTER with interesting courses that are already out there, just not in one convenient place. So we have been working with our vast network of partners – builders, remodelers, trade associations, product manufacturers, and other government agencies – to find what interactive courses on energy efficiency are available for our areas of expertise including building technologies, solar, and wind. By the end of 2012 we will have all the accumulated resources uploaded and accessible for NTER users. 


Check out NTER often to see what new things are happening with this award-winning platform. DOE’ goal is that NTER eventually becomes the go-to place for high-caliber, interactive training on energy efficiency. I hope so too – I would LOVE to have a one-stop-shop for all my impending continuing education requirements.


Once you have a chance to get in and look around, let me know what you think of the NTER concept and the platform itself. Also, let me know if there are any existing training modules online that you think would be a great fit for NTER – or any “wish list” types of offerings you hope to see on there in the future.

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