Agenda for the California Conference



The California Regional Conference will no longer take place at Skyline College. Stay tuned for the announcement of a new date in early 2014.

But you can preview some of the best content from the California conference in three remote presentations. These Habitat X Webinars will take place November 13th, 14th, and 15th.

Learn More or Sign Up for the Habitat X Webinars.


About the Agenda

Our days begin and end with Plenary Sessions that include everyone in attendance. We convene Industry Panels each day with experts from a range of disciplines. We save the Workshops and Concurrent Sessions for our most focused work.

Day 1

7:45 -8:30. Registration. Beverages and light snacks.


Group Sessions

8:30 – 9:00. Introductions and flash interviews.

9:00 – 10:00. Industry Panel: The New Future of the Housing Industry. We convene a panel discussion to discuss upcoming trends and opportunities in sustainable housing and renewable energy that are relevant and bankable for local organizations. With Chandler von Schrader, EPA manager of the ENERGY STAR HVAC Verified Installation Program, and others. Moderated by Chris Dorsi, with Q&A.

10:00 – 10:20. BreakSnacks and beverages.


10:20 – 12:00. Group Session: Laying the GroundworkThis is a planning and brainstorming forum in which we lay the groundwork for the conference. The faculty will deliver seven-minute previews of the upcoming sessions. We’ll identify what types of expertise we have among the attendees. And we’ll conduct a fast-moving brainstorm, capturing the needs and interests of everyone in attendance, and allowing us to fine-tune the learning objectives for the conference. Moderated by Ben Cichowski and Chris Dorsi.

12:00 – 12:45. Catered Lunch. 

Ed Thomas

1:00 – 2:30. Group Workshop: Building Your Sales, Marketing and Customer Care Skills, with Ed Thomas and Chris Dorsi. In this workshop, you’ll learn about marketing, sales, and customer-service tasks that are proven to expand your home-performance career or businesses. Ed will show the best practices he’s seen that work in the field, and you’ll participate in skills-building exercises with other attendees. Expect to take home bankable new ideas for you or your organization.

2:30 – 2:50. Break. Snacks and beverages.

Concurrent Workshops

Terry Nordbye2:50 – 4:00. Training and Technology track. Moving Beyond Foam, with Terry Nordbye. Have you ever wondered about the seemingly indiscriminate use of liquid foams for air-sealing in high performance housing? So has Terry, and he’s bringing his air-sealing roadshow into the room to show us how to do the job with simpler, cheaper, and more durable materials. This is an important discussion on several levels — and we’ll address cost, durability, training, and program design.

2:50 – 4:00. Leadership and Communication track: Copywriting for the Real World, with Chris Dorsi. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll each evaluate the ways that we in the world of home performance reach out to the rest of the world. Studying examples, both good and bad, of existing customer outreach pieces, we consider how to vary our syntax to effectively reach audiences with differing technical, vocational, and cultural backgrounds. We’ll study the principles of plain language, and apply those guidelines to our work, to improve our abilities to do business with diverse audiences. This session will help you answer the question, “Why don’t people want to buy this stuff?”

2:50 – 4:00. Business and Market Transformation track: Optimizing Community Outreach, with Ed Thomas. If you or your clients are in the home performance business, you already know how to transform a home’s performance. But do you know how to sell it? Marketing home performance can be a tricky task, but maintaining good relationships with past clients can open new doors for your business. In this workshop, you’ll learn firsthand how some contractors have used the open house and other outreach events to reach new customers and create community good-will. We’ll walk you through a step-by-step process to show you how to work with your clients, get the word out, and how to effectively sell your services to prospective clients.

4:00 – 4:10. Break.

Industry Panel

Ben Cichowski4:10 – 5:00. Interviews with Successful Home Performance Contractors. This is your chance to relax, hear what the experts have to say, and ask as many questions as you want. With Arthur Beeken, Kevin Beck, and others. Moderated by Ben Cichowski. Daily Wrap Up.

5:30 – 7:30. Reception at Moonraker in Pacifica. Your families or guests are invited. Casual attire. Dinner on your own afterwards. Learn more about this event.

Guest Presenters.




Day 2

7:45 – 8:30. Informal Networking. Beverages and light snacks.

Joe Medosch

8:30 – 10:00. We Have an Industry. Where’s the Market? A brainstorm moderated by Chris Dorsi, Amy Jo Sheppard, and Joe Medosch. The home performance industry includes many highly capable people who are committed to building long term success for themselves and their companies. Yet the current market presents some big challenges: consumer interest remains soft, and the home improvement industry is fragmented among many players. Given this situation, how can you succeed?


This workshop is intended to help answer that question in ways that are relevant to each participant. We’ll engage in a group “brainstorm” to create an accurate overview of the local home performance ecosystem. We’ll facilitate a discussion of the factors that help or hinder our various industries. We’ll examine and ground-truth our assumptions about market segments, mixes of product and service, and company messaging. Then we’ll evaluate our findings, as a group, to help each participant identify their most likely opportunities. We’ll provide a framework to help you capture the ideas that are most relevant to your career or business. PLUS, if you’d like additional feedback, we’ll gladly provide additional assistance after the conference.

10:00 – 10:20. Break. Snacks and beverages.

Concurrent Workshops

10:20 – 12:00. Training and Technology track:  Excel at Advanced Diagnostics, with Joe Medosch and J West. We focus here on using your experience and skills of observation before you get out the tools. Learn what we’re really evaluating when we do diagnostic tests, and see how to streamline the process by choosing the right test procedures. You will get lots of hands-on experience in this session.

Debra Little

10:20 – 12:00. Leadership and Communication track: Fine-Tuning the Spoken Word, with Chris Dorsi. We evaluate and improve our personal speaking skills. We study the differences between written and spoken communications, then analyze and improve recordings and transcripts of industry-relevant presentations. We’ll also do some stand-up impromptu speaking in small groups on topics of relevance to the world of home performance.

10:20 – 12:00. Business and Market Transformation track: Focus on Real Estate Appraisal, with Debra Little and Mark Maschger. In this example-driven workshop, we’ll consider how appraisers can and cannot acknowledge the values of energy efficiency.

12:00. Catered Lunch. 

Concurrent Workshops

1:00 – 2:30. Training and Technology track. Join the Wireless Revolution, with Colin Genge and Joe Medosch. This session will focus on the revolution in testing brought on by the advent of wireless tools. We’ll look over all the current equipment, pass it around, and show you how it’s used. And we’ll focus our expertise on the question, “How do we take advantage of these tools to improve our work, save time, and make more money?”. You’ll get to handle lots of the new equipment.

Home Energy Magazine

1:00 – 2:30. Business and Market Transformation track.  Telling the Story of Home Performance, with Chris Dorsi. We study the successes and failures of the home performance industry. We delve into marketing and public outreach, how it varies among industries, and how we can adapt the message used by each of our organizations. Bring a recent marketing example, from your company or others, and we’ll give it a critique. This session will take cues from Chris’ recent article in Home Energy Magazine.

2:30 – 2:50. Break. Snacks and beverages.

Concurrent Workshops

2:50 – 4:00. Training and Technology track. Advanced Diagnostics, with Joe Medosch and J West. These top-notch pros will guide you through the hardest parts of the pressure diagnostics, with practical and proven methodologies that pin-point problems without doing a lot of extra work.

Kevin Beck

2:50 – 4:00. Leadership and Communication track. Build In-House Training Capacity, with Chris Dorsi and Kevin Beck. Well-crafted mentoring relationships can allow you to find and leverage existing expertise. We’ll show you how a combination of on-the-job training and structured mentorship can build capacity, improve performance, and lower training costs for individuals and their organizations. We’ll send you home with a system that’ll help you develop your own in-house mentoring program. See Kevin’s recent article in Home Energy Magazine.

4:00 – 4:10. Break.

Industry Panel

Trey Muffett4:10 – 5:00. Interview: How Do We Sell This Stuff? with Trey Muffet and others. The topic is home performance, and how we describe it and sell it to the public at large. We’ll pose questions to experts from around the country in this talk-show style discussion. Moderated by Ben Cichowski, with ample Q & A. Wrap Up.

6:30 – 8:30. No-host dinner in Pacifica. Your families or guests are invited. Casual attire. Learn more about this event.

Guest Presenters.

Faculty and Staff.



Day 3

7:45 – 8:30. Informal Networking. Beverages and light snacks.

Group Meeting

8:30 – 10:00. Open Space Session. We save this last morning for what is often the most-requested session: fast-moving presentations and hands-on projects on customized topics that are requested by attendees. Presenters to be determined.

10:00 – 10:20. Break. Snacks and beverages.

Concurrent Workshops

Bill Spohn

10:20 – 12:00. Training and Technology track. Advanced Combustion Testing, with Joe Medosch and Bill Spohn of TruTech Tools. Joe knows this equipment in and out, and is a traveling trainer for Retrotec. Bill helped design a lot of the combustion testing equipment we use every day. Between them, they can pretty much write the book on the subject, and they’ll share that expertise with you in this advanced hands-on session.

10:20 – 12:00. Leadership and Communication track:  Honing Your Presentation Skills, with Chris Dorsi. We’ll show you how to become an ace communicator by showing and practicing skills that are directly relevant to the home performance industry. Consider this to be Toastmasters for Home Performance as we all agree to get over the stage fright and become exemplary public speakers.

Group Meeting

1:00 – 3:00. No-Holds Barred Panel Discussion. In this potent closing session, we’ll delve into the some of the deepest knowledge in the U.S. housing industry, gathering those in the room who’ve been beating the drums of efficient and sustainable housing for 30 years or more. Expect to hear stories here that have never been told. With guest experts John Hall, Chris Dorsi, and others. Moderated by Ben Cichowski. We’ll take Q&A from the San Francisco audience for this event, and simulcast this event to those who couldn’t make it.


Then we’ll move into Conference Follow-On, the structured group session during which we help you identify and record the parts of the conference that are most relevant to you. We’ll build out the topics for follow-on consultation, so we can continue to provide the peer-network advice that is the hallmark of the Habitat X Conferences. And we’ll connect you to the Habitat X Forum, the online environment where we provide year-round collaborative support. Adjourn.

3:15 – 4:15. Optional Networking Event. For those who can stay on later, we’ll facilitate one-on-one meetings to discuss whatever you’d like. Think of this as speed-meeting for busy and focused professionals, and use it to build connections with like-minded colleagues.

Guest Presenters.

Faculty and Staff.


Learn More or Sign Up for the Habitat X Webinars.


Sign up here to receive periodic updates from Habitat X. We will never share or sell your information, and it’s easy to unsubscribe at any time.

Subscribe for updates

© 2024 Copyright, Habitat X