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Increasing Diversity at the Best Home Performance Conference


I love the ACI National Home Performance Conference and Trade Show. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. From the first time I attended in 2005, I knew this conference was special. It’s a great place to learn what your peers are doing in other parts of the country. It’s a great place to meet the experts. And it’s a great place to hear the latest news in building science and home performance. And now the organizers have a new tool to open it up.

I love the ACI National Home Performance Conference and Trade Show. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. From the first time I attended in 2005, I knew this conference was special. It’s a great place to learn what your peers are doing in other parts of the country. It’s a great place to meet the experts. And it’s a great place to hear the latest news in building science and home performance. And now the organizers have a new tool to open it up.

The Home Performance Coalition (HPC) received a grant to provide scholarships for up to 75 people for this year’s event. (Oh, yeah. The conference is in downtown Austin, Texas this year so you really don’t want to miss it.) Here’s what it says on the HPC website about the goal of the scholarships:

One of the primary goals of this scholarship program is to attract a more diverse group of home performance contractors to the national conference. New entrants to the industry, small businesses, minority and women owned businesses, as well as minority and female staff members from any home performance contracting company are encouraged to apply.

That’s another great thing about this conference. The organizers have worked hard to open it up and make it more diverse. We don’t want to be like Tom Brady in the 2013 Bad NFL Lip Reading video, standing around and saying to each other, “Ooh! I’m white!” (It’s a hilarious video; Brady’s part is at the 0:52 mark.)

No, we want diversity. Come on, all you genders, races, and ethnicities. This isn’t just for white middle class folks. It’s for — and it affects — everyone. This is about improving the homes we live in, getting them to the point where people can experience true comfort for the first time, where they can breathe fresh, healthful air, and where affordable housing means not just a low first cost but low operating costs as well.

Van Jones gave one of the best keynote speeches I’ve ever heard when he spoke at the 2014 ACI National in Detroit. He made the connections and showed that we should all be in this together. In an interview with Home Enegy Magazine afterward, he said, “Home performance is a field that can actually create a million jobs without risking or spending a whole bunch of government money.”


Let’s make this happen. Spread the word about these new scholarships and let’s bring in more people who need to hear the message of home performance. A whole lot of homes out there need what home performance pros can do for them. Let’s expand the circle and bring in the diverse thinking and approaches we’ll get when more women are involved and when the faces show a wider range of color.

Besides, this conference is just a lot of fun!


These new scholarships are a great way to help home performance grow. Spread the word. Click below for more info and to download the application.



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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Alison, I’m disappointed in
    Alison, I’m disappointed in you and the organization. I didn’t see this coming. In my opinion, a policy of diversity is a false and racist goal. I think we can agree that education and growing our industry is a good and laudable goal. It’s the purpose of trade organizations. This means everyone! Singling out one group over another based upon ethnicity is by definition RAcist! ALL should be encouraged, but with an eye toward becoming the best. Not one’s vision of how the demographics of an industry should look to make a certain group FEEL GOOD. But it’s your blog, do as you will. I enjoyed your professional insights into building science.
    I am very disappointed in the choice of Van Jones. Hard to imagine a more divisive speaker. Was Louis Farakan booked? Jones was even thrown out of the Obama administration for his rhetoric and racists policies. That’s a pretty tough thing to achieve given his peers. A keynote speaker should represent the group. Prod, stimulate and perhaps even challenge. But a keynote speaker should not offend and anger by his very presence. A very poor choice that I will not validate with my attendence. If these are the beliefs of the ACI, then their goal of inclusion has failed. They will loose one member.

    1. Spencer, you are free to feel
      Spencer, you are free to feel disappointed if you like, but let me see if I can help you see this from a different perspective.

      First, no gender, race, or ethnicity is being singled out. If you look at the application for the scholarship, you’ll see that questions for gender and race are indeed included, but they’re optional. Yes, the goal is to achieve greater diversity in gender, race, and ethnicity, but as far as I can tell, they’ll make the decisions based on how much conference attendance will help the applicant or their business and on the person’s financial need.

      In a broader context, let me suggest that one of our big biases as humans is seeking out only people who confirm what we already believe. If you don’t like Van Jones, that’s fine. I didn’t say I agreed with everything he’s ever said or done either. What I did say is that he gave an amazing keynote speech.

      I certainly have a hard time listening to people whom I think are trying to destroy the country or the planet or aggrandize themselves. But I also know I need to expose myself to people and ideas that I don’t agree with. It helps me see flaws in my thinking or understand another person’s perspective, even if I don’t agree with it.

      My guess is that you responded quickly because the article triggered a fear of yours. I would encourage you not to jump ship before considering what I’ve written here.

      1. Hi Allison,
        Hi Allison,

        I am just a home owner looking to build an afforadable, energy efficient home that won’t take 30 years to pay off. This conference looks very interesting, and I’d like to attend, but it appears $775 a persons? Or is that just for vendors? I’d just like to attend and learn, is there a more affordable way to attend?


        1. Mike, in addition to the
          Mike, in addition to the scholarships, there’s a discount if you’re a member of Efficiency First. (Here’s the link to the EF site: I don’t know if they still do it, but I believe they used to have a low-cost (or free?) way of going if you volunteered to help at the conference. And of course, registering at the Early Bird rate saves you $100.

          I suggest you contact the Home Performance Coalition directly to find out more. Here’s the link:

  2. Allison – I think ACI, and
    Allison – I think ACI, and any other large home performance conference group, is completely “missing the boat”. The social history of home buyers is not based on the principle of “what’s good”, but “what’s been done before by wealthy (or at least wealthier) people” (and since it was done by wealthy people, it must be right). This societal pattern has been going on before colonization happened. Face it – the people who attend ACI are not the majority of home buyers nor the majority of building trades people. The attendees are the building science geeks; THE MINORITY. If you want to improve diversity (and increase sales of home performance projects/retrofits/new home construction) you need to appeal to the whole population of CUSTOMERS (who, when stimulated, will turn to the building trades who will then be stimulated). ACI and others should have demonstration houses at every conference open to the general public. Even re-purposed college Solar Decathlon entries could be used. The point is to show EVERYONE “what could be”. Then you will have diversity.

    1. You could be on to something,
      You could be on to something, David. Have some demonstration houses. Maybe move the conference to Las Vegas. Schedule it for the same week as the Shooting and Hunting show and the Adult Entertainment Expo… Oh wait. The International Builders’ Show beat us to that idea.

      Seriously though, I like the idea of demonstration houses. Maybe the organizers will look into it. I’m just not sure that something like insulation, air sealing, and mechanical systems will ever compete with granite countertops and closet organizers. And million dollar homes often get the same crappy work as entry-level spec homes.

  3. Thank you, Allison, for your
    Thank you, Allison, for your good work and thought-provoking blog post!

  4. Sorry for wanting to be
    Sorry for wanting to be anonymous. Topics like this can be toxic no matter what is said and I’d like to be honest.

    In high school and college I got really upset about efforts to increase diversity. Myself not being in any special group I’d always see everyone else getting extra help. I’m all for equal opportunity, but rigging the contest to get equal results was unfair in my mind. I had one heated debate in college with a fellow student who insisted the University had to do more to reduce the drop out rates of minorities. My response was asking if she expected the University to hire tutors for all minorities?

    Many years later I think I’ve become less offended about people wanting to increase diversity. Maybe I’m just more confident in myself. The best analogy I’ve heard in support of these efforts was to compare it to Mario Kart. The person in first place only get the lame power ups like bananas while the people at the end of the race get all of the good power ups like mushrooms and rockets.

    I think efforts to increase diversity are good. But they’re more widely accepted if the program is base on their position in the race rather than the color of the racer. Help every student that is at risk of failing rather than only students of color. Remove the pay structure of Universities that get money from the states based on the number of freshmen enrolled rather than the number of students. This is why so many Universities have drop classes like Chemistry 101 to flunk out lots of people quickly. Increase awareness of opportunities to minorities by focusing your marketing at your target audience.

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