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Introducing the Green New Deal Housing Train the Trainers Project

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

Is there a teacher or a mentor in your life, past or present, who made a big and positive impact on you? Someone who took the time to both share their expertise and nurture your development? Good teachers and mentors can have profound and catalyzing impact.

Building and teaching have a lot in common. Both professions rely on a solid foundation of fundamental principles and also require the use of integrated specialized expertise. In both fields, the transfer of knowledge and skills is essential. In addition, practitioners’ methods and skill sets continually evolve and change in response to environmental, social, technological and economic realities.

Present realities suggest that profound change is needed in the way we build, in order to address climate change and the persistent shortage of durable, affordable housing. The reality of a shrinking trades workforce suggests that we need to recruit and train many more people into the fields of building performance and construction.

These realities affect every sector of every community, but the harshest impacts are felt by those with the least privilege, who live with the greatest disparities in opportunity and security. The need to build differently, and the need to grow our trades workforce, presents opportunity.

“Green building” used to be considered a small, specialized, wholly optional (even superfluous) part of the construction trades. This attitude came from a misunderstanding of green building. The definition of green building can be distilled into four principles: healthy, durable, energy efficient, and accessible. In other words, green building is good building.

To prepare the next generation to build for the next generation, we need to train our workforce to build green. Building science and sustainable building practices must be an embedded, fundamental part of design and construction education and instruction. Educators and trainers can lead this effort.

Train the Trainers (T3) is a professional development opportunity for construction-related educators and tradespeople, to facilitate the integration of green building principles and skills into trades instruction. Program participants will be guided and encouraged to incorporate course content into their training activities.

This new project kicks off the third year of the Green New Deal Housing workforce development program. In the first two years of the program, GNDH training reached a variety of experienced and incoming tradespeople. By now focusing on instructors, mentors and trainers, this green building curriculum has the potential for far-wider benefit and impact.

The T3 project is co-created by Josh VandeBerg and Rachel Wagner, the leaders of the GNDH curriculum and instruction team. The 6-month program includes in-person and online coursework delivered by professionals in green building and building science.

Course materials include resources created for Green New Deal Housing, and the Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Science Principles Reference Guide. Participants who complete the full program will have the opportunity to test for an industry-recognized BPI credential in building science.

The acts of teaching and mentorship are an investment in the future. Train the Trainers is one more piece in Green New Deal Housing’s effort to invest in a healthier, more equitable and sustainable future.

To learn more about the GNDH workforce development program, go here:

To inquire about Train the Trainers, you can email

The Train the Trainers Project is supported by industry sponsor The Energy Conservatory and a grant from the University of MN Northeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership.

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