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May 22, 2023

BPA Helps Asylum Seekers Find a Place in Home Performance

BPA State Outreach Coordinators Xavier Walter and Maria Lewis conducted a two-day Building Science Principles (BSP) training in Maine for the state's asylum seekers.

By: Macie Melendez

“What do you think of when you hear the word ‘house’?” That was the first question asked of training participants in Maine this past March. This specific training was created through a partnership between BPA, Quality Housing Coalition, and Evergreen Home Performance for asylum seekers that live throughout the state.

Quality Housing Coalition is a nonprofit organization with the mission to create quality housing opportunities for those in need in Maine and Evergreen Home Performance is an energy efficiency contractor and auditing business in the state.

Two of BPA’s State Outreach Coordinators, Xavier Walter and Maria Lewis, conducted this two-day Building Science Principles (BSP) training.

Participants’ answers to the question above varied, but many said that the word “house” gave them the feeling of safety. Others said it made them think of family. For some, it conjured up the idea of having a foundation. Everyone was excited to learn about how to make a house more efficient because it is someone’s home.

BPA was able to work with the House of Languages, which brought in three staff members to assist with translation of the training into French and Portuguese in real time via headphones, as Walter and Lewis provided the course in English.

The Building Performance Institute (BPI)’s Building Science Principles (BSP) certificate is a great first step into the world of energy efficient home performance. The training to prepare people for the certification exam includes industry terminology related to building science and basic understanding of the relationships between the building envelope, heating, air conditioning, insulation, mechanical ventilation, lighting, appliances, and other systems of the home. It also covers how these systems affect the comfort, health, and safety of occupants and durability of the home.

This training took things one step further, however, offering on-the-spot interviews for participants that had their work Visa. Those who did not yet have their work Visa planned to work with local nonprofits for continued education, job training, and other opportunities. Many that attended the training planned on getting their Visa after they passed the exam and received their BSP certification.

“The training helped me understand some basic and important aspects of working on construction sites, heating systems used in homes, leaks, and many other things,” said one of the participants, Saute Bernardo Paulo Mabuie. “It also taught me to see when the work has defects and how to intervene to remedy that. This training was an amazing experience,” he said.

Additionally, Evergreen (who also sponsored the venue) provided networking opportunities with other contracting companies to speak to the participants about different roles and possible job opportunities.

Some of the contractors that came in were Horizon Homes, Southern Maine Spray Insulation, and Portland Maine Spray Foam. These companies spoke with participants about open job opportunities, provided information, and answered questions about the interview process and expectations they have.

“I really liked the training because it opened my eyes to things that I didn’t pay attention to, especially in this area of house performance,” said participant Amevi Assoutovi. “It’s amazing how we don’t take note of the little things before our own eyes.”

BPA would like to thank everyone who made this training possible. We hope to continue to provide similar opportunities for everyone interested in learning about, and joining, this industry.

Meet the Author

Macie Melendez

Editor in Chief, BPA Journal

Macie Melendez is Editor In Chief at the BPA Journal. In this role, she oversees the entire online publication. The Editor In Chief is responsible for managing all content and ushering each blog, article, and sponsored content through the full process from content acquisition and editing to final publication. She previously worked at the former Home Energy magazine where she started as Assistant Editor and worked her way up to Executive Editor before pursuing a freelance writing career.

Macie has been a writer and editor for two decades, working in various mediums from print magazines and newspapers to online education and script writing. She is passionate about the written word and helping the planet—even if that comes in the form of editing. Macie holds a BA degree in English from San Diego State University.

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