A challenge in the industry for HVAC packaged rooftop units (RTU) and heat pump water heaters (HPWH) is that poor quality installations do not produce the energy savings these products are designed to achieve. The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) hired Opinion Dynamics to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities that HVAC RTU and HPWH technicians need to complete high-quality HVAC RTU and HPWH installations that maximize the energy efficiency potential of the equipment.

Opinion Dynamics used the Developing a Curriculum (DACUM) process to analyze what workers need to successfully install this equipment. The DACUM method has been used for more than 40 years in schools, government agencies, the military, and business to analyze the duties and tasks performed in a job. The DACUM philosophy posits that expert workers understand their job better than anyone else and can offer the most accurate definition and description of what they do. Through a participatory workshop facilitated by Opinion Dynamics staff, expert workers identified the high-priority tasks in their jobs, and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) required to do these tasks.

Opinion Dynamics held a two-day workshop in southern California in June 2019 with 11 expert HVAC RTU technicians, and a two-day workshop in the Bay Area in October 2019 with 6 expert plumbers with HPWH experience. Opinion Dynamics workshop facilitators introduced participating experts to the DACUM philosophy, reviewed the goal of the workshops (to produce a prioritized list of KSAs that their jobs require), and then led the experts through defining the KSAs needed to fulfill the main duties and tasks for their jobs. Finally, before the workshop ended, Opinion Dynamics produced a list of KSAs that the participating experts agreed were the most important.

Opinion Dynamics then developed two detailed surveys based on workshop outputs (one for HVAC RTUs, and one for HPWHs) and reached out to additional expert technicians to validate the prioritized duties, tasks, and KSAs developed in the workshops. Using results from the surveys, Opinion Dynamics compiled a final, prioritized list of KSAs that are critical for high quality installations of HVAC RTUs and HPWHs. This list will form the backbone of a new curriculum to train technicians and ensure new installations achieve the energy efficiency potential of the equipment.