Editor’s Note: The following remarks were made in response to articles on home performance in The NEWS.

Approach Home Performance Certifications with Caution

HVAC contractors expanding into the home performance market should weigh all of the options before committing to a program. The Department of Energy (DOE) has anointed the Building Performance Institute (BPI) as its initial sole source in building performance certification. BPI was formerly a major player in the DOE’s regional weatherization programs. Now, BPI is claiming to be the answer to the nation’s home performance energy needs.

To me, those bold claims make BPI look like the great Wizard of Oz. The question is, why hasn’t the DOE looked behind the curtain to see what they are getting for our money? After the DOE has paid millions over the last decade in the development of weatherization training, surely BPI must have some substance. But I would recommend before signing employees up for training based on BPI standards that you read the BPI standards and decide if training based on them will make your business profitable.

Home performance training and certifications should be based on standards developed by industry. Our industry’s standards-based training has helped our company to carve our niche in the home performance market. It is better to get the most for your hard-earned dollars when investing in a new market. HVAC contractors who are expanding their business model by incorporating building performance capabilities should make sure their training programs are based on recognized, industry-vetted standards. Over the past 10 years, performance-related standards have been developed by numerous prestigious national organizations, including ACCA, ASHRAE, ASTM, RESNET, SMACNA, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Based on Bay Area Air Conditioning & Heating Inc.’s experience, training based on recognized standards pays off. Many of the standards from these organizations have been widely embraced, are ANSI-recognized, and are now included in new code requirements. Due to standards-based training, our company was already meeting the new code requirements when they became mandatory in our state. While many of our competitors were scrambling to meet the new requirements, we were operating with business as usual. Based on our company’s experience, HVAC contractors can safely enter into the building performance market by utilizing training programs that support the standards developed by the HVAC industry.

Some of the standards our company’s training programs were designed to support are available for free on the ACCA website at www.acca.org/quality. Additionally, RESNET standards are available on the web at www.resnet.us/about/resnet-standards.

I wish you much success as you expand your business offerings to include home performance.

Jolene Methvin
Bay Area Air Conditioning & Heating Inc.
Estimator/Customer Service
Crystal River, Fla.

Publication date: 7/2/2012