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Utah opens weatherization training center

Published: Monday, May 17 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

Michael Johnson talks with Gil Sperling, at right, during the open house for the new Intermountain Weatherization Training Center in Clearfield Tuesday.

Ravell Call , Deseret News

CLEARFIELD — From the outside, it's just another 21,000-square-foot warehouse in Clearfield's Freeport Center, a bustling depot of manufacturing, food production and services.

But upon entering the Intermountain Weatherization training center's warehouse, you see a house.

That's right, a 1,280-square-foot, two-story house with gray siding. Despite its house number, no one lives there.

The house is the latest state-of-the-art training center for workers who do weatherization work for low-income homeowners.

The weatherization program is designed to help low-income homeowners save money by replacing inefficient furnaces, adding insulation and undertaking other measures to make homes more energy efficient.

The training house is built to allow workers to identify and investigate ventilation and airflow problems in a house and then fix them.

Trainees will have access to attic space, crawl spaces, furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, various types of insulation and even old windows.

"We determined not to make it our little secret," said Mike Johnson, manager of Utah's weatherization assistance program.

Johnson's team will train the 130 new weatherization workers who have been hired in Utah as a result of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money.

"We'll be able to train our people in the best methods, and we'll be able to save those low-income customers of ours a lot of money," Johnson said.

For the next six months, Johnson's team will train those workers, but he expects to allow the training house to be used by the construction industry, applied technology colleges, utility companies and possibly some members of the public.

Before the training center was created, weatherization training happened at actual homes of clients, Johnson said.

Tri-County Weatherization, which serves Davis, Weber and Morgan counties, has moved its office to the same warehouse as the training center, said Ian Spangenberg, Tri-County's manager.

The agency managed to service 158 homes in 2009. So far in 2010, Tri-County Weatherization has completed 104, thanks to stimulus funds that paid for extra workers.

In Utah, more than 50,000 homes have been serviced since the weatherization program began.

e-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com twitter: desnewsdavis

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