MT Weatherization: Growing the workforce in the energy efficiency industry

MT employees enjoy a company outing.

In the world of energy efficiency, innovation often stems from unexpected beginnings. Such is the story of MT Weatherization, a Harrisburg-based company that has been making waves since its founding over a decade ago.

MT began in 2007 as a construction venture with only a passing interest in energy efficiency. But in 2011, the company underwent a transformation, adopting the name MT Weatherization to reflect its new focus on building performance. The change marked the beginning of a remarkable journey into the world of energy efficiency.

MT Founder and CEO Matt Tenny explains that it started while MT was exploring the solar industry in the late 2000s. Thermal solar systems use the energy of the sun to produce heat and hot water in a building structure, and successful operation depends on top-notch insulation and building efficiency. While MT ultimately decided against going all-in on solar, it did find great success in repairing thermal solar systems in the state of Pennsylvania for PPL Electric utility company.

The skills and opportunities MT developed in this initial PPL work helped to lay the foundation for more and more weatherization work with PPL, and eventually, a full pivot into building performance. 

Today, MT has approximately fifty full-time employees who work throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland, and they are in the process of expanding into New Jersey. “We are the boots-on-the-ground,” Matt explains. “Our teams are the ones who prescribe and do the work in homes. I know that when our crew leaves a home, the inhabitants will save money and be in a safer and more comfortable living environment.”

The boots-on-the-ground approach has driven growth and employee diversification. The company now boasts a team of auditors, HVAC experts and electricians, aiming to become a comprehensive whole-house energy contractor. Their portfolio includes both private sector weatherization and low-to-moderate income housing projects. The team manages and executes projects across its territory—including scheduling audits, working with client schedules, and conducting thorough post-project inspections.

Tenny explains that while on-site work is often only a few days long, project planning and follow-up is a big lift that requires weeks of scheduling and administrative coordination. The key to making these big projects work is a company culture of mutual respect. “Each department looks out for the other and we push each other to work hard.”

As the energy efficiency field continues to grow, MT often encounters challenges in finding and retaining skilled employees. MT’s answer to this workforce struggle has been to start focusing on training and development of potential new talent.  “In the old days, we would put a new hire right into the field; but we were limited with whom we could hire, due to pre-existing skill sets.  When we moved to our new location on Academy Drive, we built a training room and began putting all new hires through a formal training program.  This allowed us to consider hiring unskilled laborers and train them in the skills necessary to work in our industry,” Tenny explains.  It was a good plan, but it was only the start.

A pivotal moment came when Tenny attended a 2021 home performance conference in Nashville, where he met Alison Diehl, Executive Director of the Clean Energy Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology­ —a nationally recognized building science training center. Tenny learned that the Center was looking to add a new training facility in Central PA, and Tenny, with a new 40,000 sq ft building, was looking not only for new ways to train workers but also a tenant.

“A partnership between the Clean Energy Center and MT Weatherization was a natural fit and opened doors to cutting-edge training facilities and promising collaborations,” Diehl commented.

In Spring 2023, the Clean Energy Center opened their new training facility co-located at MT’s Academy Drive site in Harrisburg. The facility provides a shining example of both organizations’ commitments to providing industry-aligned workforce training for the energy efficiency sector. The Clean Energy Center offers a range of hands-on training and BPI certification testing for the home performance workforce, including IREC-accredited Home Energy Professional training programs, a worker recruitment and job readiness program called Building Green Futures, and heat pump training.

Sharing a building with a leading provider of workforce development solutions has its advantages. Tenny has been able to expand MT’s in-house training and development plan to include more comprehensive technical training offered by the center. “Having a best-in-class training center just feet away from our headquarters eliminates barriers for our workers to receive quality workforce training,” Tenny explains. “Our investment in this level of technical training benefits both our workers and clients.”  

A Clean Energy Center trainer teaches in the Harrisburg space rented from MT Weatherization.

Tenny already has his sights set on enrolling workers in the Clean Energy Center’s new heat pump training. MT sees heat pumps, mini-splits, and related technologies as a vital part of the industry’s future. “They last longer,” Matt observes. “They’re easier for the homeowner to use. We’ve installed a lot of them, and we really like them because of their reliability.”

What’s next for MT Weatherization?  With a potential influx of more trained skilled workers, MT envisions being able to handle a larger number of jobs on an annual basis. Not only does this benefit the company, but employees are benefiting from new career paths that are being opened to them with the additional training and workload.  

On an even wider scale, Matt predicts a sea of change happening in the efficiency field: “The job market is going to be explosive; we are in the beginning of a brand-new era.”

MT Weatherization’s journey from a construction venture to a full-service industry partner is a testament to its adaptability, dedication, and forward-thinking approach.  It is a force for positive change in the energy efficiency sector and to the industry workforce.  However, Tenny takes most pride in being able to help people on different levels.  “My biggest focus is the people.  Helping people to have a better life; whether they are my employees or my customers.”

Before and after: MT’s Harrisburg location includes a “Training House” for hands-on skill development.
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Success story from: MT Weatherization
Added to the EE Stories website on: September 27, 2023

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