Workforce neurodiversity advocate awarded Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Citizen Honors Award ahead of 'Better Building by Design' keynote


‘Better Building by Design’ keynote speaker Danny Combs, founder of Colorado’s ‘Teaching Autism Community Trades,’ honored with Service Act Award for work with neuro-distinct young adults in building trades careers  

WINOOSKI, VT—Danny Combs, an advocate dedicated to educating the full spectrum of individuals with autism in building trades skills, has been awarded the 2024 Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Citizens Honors Award for Service. Combs was selected for his efforts with neuro-distinct adults in training that leads to fruitful careers in the trades. Those efforts will be the focus of his keynote speech on April 3 to Efficiency Vermont’s two-day Better Building by Design conference in South Burlington.  

Combs was selected as the Service Act Award honoree for his work to create better lives for those with autism. Inspired by his son, Dylan, Combs started the Colorado nonprofit TACT—Teaching the Autism Community Trades—to create educational and training programs that empower neuro-distinct individuals to pursue careers. 

Combs' work emphasizes that neurodiverse individuals are empowered by education, training, and employment. His work with TACT helps individuals build careers, independence, and pride. His work also brings the unique strengths of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) community to meet the shortage of skilled trade workers across the country. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society praised Combs for helping to "create authentic training that leads to careers. His program has become the most successful training-to-employment program for the autism community in Colorado."

April's Better Building by Design (BBD) conference, the annual gathering of construction and workforce development professionals organized by Efficiency Vermont, will focus on equity and workforce development. The theme of BBD is Blueprint for Equity: Energy Efficiency & the Future of Building. Leading with equity helps build a strong workforce, saves energy, and enhances resiliency while also reducing energy burden. Approximately 50 BBD workshops will focus on topics like customer program barriers for low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters, energy use in affordable home ownership, and workforce challenges.  

"Danny’s work reframes the conversation around neurodiversity and workforce development,” said Peter Walke, managing director of Efficiency Vermont. "His perspective is ideal for BBD this year—an equitable approach to expanding our building trades careers. It’s great to see his important work honored by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and we’re fortunate to be able to share his expertise with all of BBD as our keynote speaker.” 

In addition to Combs’ keynote, BBD attendees will see blueprints for equity in action through tours of an all-electric, fossil-fuel-free neighborhood, or a cutting-edge electric aircraft manufacturing facility. Attendees will be able to tour a home in O’Brien Brothers’ Hillside East neighborhood, which all embrace ENERGY STAR and Zero Energy Ready Home certifications while meeting Efficiency Vermont’s high standards for energy-saving appliances and insulation. Some attendees will also have the option to tour Beta Technologies' new electric aircraft production facility, which will utilize more than 250 geothermal wells to heat and cool the building.  

Since 2007, each year five US citizens and one organization have been selected to receive the Citizens Honors Award by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The Citizens Honors Awards are given in five categories: acts of service, youth service, community service, an honoree for the Young Hero award, and an honoree for the Single Act of Heroism award. Combs and other 2024 honorees will be presented their awards during a ceremony in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on March 25, the National Medal of Honor Day marking the anniversary of the first presentations of a Medal of Honor during the Civil War.

About the Better Building By Design Conference (BBD) 

BBD is hosted by Efficiency Vermont and provides building professionals with a variety of continuing education opportunities to build up their knowledge in energy efficiency best practices and technologies to better serve their customers. Each year BBD gathers participants from among Vermont’s 18,000 person-strong clean energy workforce, and other professionals from around New England, for training sessions and workshops at the two-day conference. Learn more at

About Efficiency Vermont

As the nation’s first Energy Efficiency Utility, Efficiency Vermont has helped Vermont avoid over 13.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and has received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence award for the last eight consecutive years. Efficiency Vermont works with partners to help our state transition to more affordable, low carbon energy use through education, incentives, and support for our clean energy workforce. Learn more at

Efficiency Vermont Press Contact
Matthew Smith
Phone: (802) 540-7662
[email protected]