Driving business for energy auditors

This is a really long read, but very worth it for you guys selling any form of energy services.

http://eetd.lbl.gov/EAP/EMP/reports/lbnl-3960e-web.pdf

JJ

Thanks Jason. I have one question: Is BPI certification equivalent to being NACHI certified to conduct energy audits, I mean, isn’t Ben qualified to certify members to conduct energy audits the same as John McKenna is qualified to certify thermographers? Then again, isn’t BPI certification a 5 day course plus field tests? How does BPI certification and NACHI certification compare to a thermographer Level 2 or 3 certification? Please explain, I’m confused.

geeze loueeeze, Linus, you just gave me a frickin headache with that reply… :ouch:

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we have a member from Missouri that became a BPI auditor in one week and claims to be an expert energy auditor. On the other hand he puts down Certified thermographers who work months and years to attain their certifications.

Well, Linus, BPI is an actual certification that is recognized by lots of states and power companies…among other things. No form of IR training is “certified” in that sense.

As far as its viability, well someone without a building background is going to be greatly challenged by having a BPI BA and trying to be profitable in that market. It can be done, but it will require a lot of additional education. As a side note to this, someone with a lot of building background can also be challenged in this arena if they don’t stay up with the times. ICF, SIPS, Passive House and other related high performance products are currently pushing the energy efficiency markets for new construction. In your neck of the woods, IECC 2012 will really drive this type of construction as it is tougher to do with standard stick construction.

In addition to this, I really think people need to look at the markets and their business model. I feel as though BPI is more geared towards a current contractor that wants to do retrofit work. Resnet raters (HERS certification is not only via Resnet, but they are the largest by far. Outside of California stick with Resnet. Inside California you have some options, including Resnet) are more geared towards testing. In addition to a HERS certification I would pursue a TABB certification on the commercial side of things.

The current direction of BPI seems to be sticking with power company programs. These programs are not going anywhere anytime soon, so the business works. The BPI side of things also requires a lot of marketing and sales of consumers for the retrofit work. There is an art to it. I know BPI guys that can’t stop growing, and I know guys who cannot figure out how to get a single job. Often times these companies are in the same exact market. I am not including the door and window guys that strictly use it as a sales tool. Windows never (I am sure there is a time they do, but I have not seen it) fit into a 10 year payback period. The “real” BPI contractors do work based on a 10 year payback period and usually do insulation as well, which that company should also have BPI Shell and Envelope. Peter Russell is a good example of this type of contractor, he will be able to add more to this.

Resnet (HERS certification) has done a great job, over the past 6 months, of getting in with all the builders. The HERS certification is also very well recognized throughout the country and, just like BPI, is usually required. These builders may keep their stuff in house, but I know of guys that have sold their services as a sub-contractor to these builders. These builders, so far, are very large ones, so even a single contract can keep someone busy for a very long time and usually cannot be handled by a single person (you would have to hire people). Included in this is Energy Star V 3.0 and IECC 2012 (modified 2009 IECC…currently TX and GA). The duct leakage with reference to the outdoors (post construction) and total duct leakage (ducts exposed) method is basically identical for both ES 3.0 and IECC standards.

TABB is an air balancing certification that any HERS rater should add on if they are doing commercial. Personally, I don’t care if they only do residential they should add it on anyway. The nice thing for you Linus, is that TABB is based out of Chicago…I am pretty sure. I went to their show last year and it was in Chicago and I am pretty sure that was their main location.

In addition to all of this there are several other certifications. The most notable is the USACE (United States Army Corp of Engineers). USACE stuff is thought to be strictly commercial, but this is a misconception. Lots of bases have on base housing. Those homes almost always fall under USACE testing protocols. To my knowledge there is only one person in the country that does this type of training. That is Colin Genge from Retrotec. They do not do the class very often and it is $3500 for a week of hands on and two weeks of online courses. It is an amazing course. It fills up super fast when they announce they are going to have it. Even if you never touch a USACE job, Colin is the Stephen Hawking of air flow.

Three other certifications that have value is CEM (certified energy manager), CEA (certified energy auditor) as well as LEED.

Ben is working on something completely different. He is working with the HES program. Which is part of Bidens thing along with…I believe Resnet. I might be wrong about the Resent thing. I am sure Ben can clarify all of that. It is just yet another certification (method) that is being used for this market. It is more of a walk through thing and a lot of it is done via the home owner. From what I know it is no where close to a BPI or Resnet audit as it is not really “scientific (wrong word, but I will use it)” in nature.

As far as James’s knowledge and thoughts on IR…well I do not know his background. I have read a lot of his post’s and I agree with a lot of what he says. Some people are just blunt and he might not be meaning it in a demeaning way. I do 100% agree with him that you cannot do a residential IR inspection without a blower door. I will catch all kinds of flack for that statement, but it can easily be shown. I will dig up some images of a job a did a year or so ago that demonstrates this. I will put them up on this post when I find them. Basically, sources of exfiltration will cause havoc on an IR scan, to the point that obvious leaks can be completely missed.

One other, semi off topic, point to this entire industry. Blower doors are also used in the fire suppression industry and even clean room testing. Due to most of your guy’s building background, this jump isn’t all that far if you already own the equipment. It is yet another certification that costs in the $3500 range (fire suppression).

If any of you decide to go after the IECC stuff, you will have to ask me on a case by case basis where to get trained. Every location (City, County, State, whatever) is different and is constantly changing or being added to. Personally, I think code compliance, going forward, is going to end up being the real meat and potatoes of the industry.

Jason Kaylor
VP of Specialty Products
AC Tool Supply
480-528-4045

Jason,

I know that the DOE is working with BPI and others to quote/unquote “enhanced their product and spill” to the public. Efficiency First has had seminars as well as the DOE on the subject matter you posted above in-your-link. Thank you for the pdf.

Regarding the IECC 2012 seminars/training, do you know if one is going to be scheduled any time soon in the KC area?

How did you become aware of the times and places for this?

ummm not sure really. It is just part of my industry and have stayed on top of it for a few years now.

Missouri has already held some webinars on the matter and some work shops. Drop this email a line and let them know you would like their webinar and/or workshop schedule: energy@dnr.mo.gov

Here is the MO 2012 IECC quick sheet: http://reca-codes.org/codes2012/Missouri.pdf

From what I know, there is no state wide code compliance in MO, just their own deal that is based on 2006 IECC. This is why IECC stuff is so tough to follow on a nationwide scale. Governments can follow one of the codes exactly or modify it to their liking, or just write an entirely new one from scratch or use IECC or IRC as an outline.

http://energycodesocean.org/code-information/missouri-minimum-energy-efficiency-standards-state-buildings

Here are the Kansas links of interest, note that Kansas City is one of those situations where a city has gone forward but the state is still at a lower level. I believe that Kansas iteself is 2006 IECC while Kansas City is either adopting 2012 or already has.

http://marc.org/environment/Energy/assets/IECC.pdf

http://marc.org/environment/Energy/reecs.htm - bottom link on this one is a good presentation that outlines 2012 vs 2009 and 2006.

http://energycodesocean.org/resource/kansas-city-2012-iecc-incremental-cost-memo

http://www.energycodes.gov/states/state_info.php?stateAB=KS - this site rocks for all states.

I am not actually up to date with these two states, I just remember reading about Kansas City working on adopting 2012 IECC. Houston has the same thing going on, however they are in a modified 2009 state already.

I bet Monday was a tough night for you. My boys (Indiana) beat them in the regular season but got beat up by them in the tourney. KY was just too strong this year.

Jason Kaylor
VP of Specialty Products
AC Tool Supply
480-528-4045

Thanks for the info, most of it I already have… just wanting to make sure I did’nt miss anything in this regard…

Yep, KU got their backsides handed to them, still proud of em, they went a lot farther than anyone expected… Self is a hellva of a coach…

Rock Chalk Jayhawk … KU

I had a meeting with someone from HUD today and the HES score came up. He mentioned that it was designed to be a about a $100 option for people to get an idea of where the house stands and what it might need. I was not a replacement for a proper audit. It is another way to get energy conservation into peoples minds without the expense of an audit.

I agree 100% with you on that. I just wish the HES auditors would diaclose that to the consumer. I have heard a lot of the “full” auditors hear from consumers that they already got a full audit. Which at that point is the full auditor’s job is to educate the customer, but the customer will take it as a sales pitch or just arguing. Auditor loses, so does the consumer if decent energy savings are available.

HES guys should have to work under a Resnet provider. The issue there is, Resnet providers charge their raters per inspection. If the HES inspection is $100, how is the HES guy going to give up anything. HES is a good idea, but at the end of the day it leaves everyone incomplete.

JJ

I’m not sure if the HES should be under a provider. It’s a $1600 set up. Then you have to pay $65 per inspection. The more you do the lower the price is. There is a $500 a year fee each year after the first and you have to pay for the rater to come out and check your work. This would just drive up the HES score and defeat it’s affordability.

Yeah I agree. I did’t realize it cost $1600 to get set up with a provider…ouch. Training and provider together is a nice chunk of change. I always look at stuff like that as a potential positive as well. Keeps some potential competition out of the game.

If HES did go under providers, maybe it should be free to the HES auditor. Then the provider could work together with the HES auditor. Then kick out the leads to their raters that are paying so much. Everyone really wins there.

Whatcha think Ben?

JJ

I think this country need legislation that would make it mandatory for a energy audit to be completed before a home gets listed and the rating be on the listing sheet.

I don’t think it will be long before we see this.

Peter, That would be a good idea but like a sellers inspection it’s going to get allot of resistance. In Nevada they tried to pave the way for that by passing a bill that required home sellers to provide their utility bills. Both parties could sign a waiver and opt out of the requirement which most agents made that a standard document. The agents started to complain that they now had more paperwork. No one saw the benefits in it and since it has been dropped. I know for a fact that it’s not totally off the table and we might see something return again here. Also a program like the SAVE ACT will have energy cost taken into account when getting loans.

Hi Robert,
I believe it’s coming. Sooner or later they will get something passed. To many home buyers are getting into homes that they can’t afford once the heating season hits, in my area anyway. This is a big problem thats only getting worse. I just got 100 gallons of oil and paid 3.70 per gallon.

All homes that are sold will list what the property taxes are. In my area property taxes on a average sized home are 4-5K which will equal about 375/month for escrow. Now factor in energy use and that number doubles.

It will be interesting to see what happens. I think the banks are going to push it when figuring a home buyers debt to income ratio.

Ohhhhh thats a good angle, Peter. Lobby the banks to get it done. They have more power than anyone.

JJ

No body is asking the banks. They are figuring it out themselves. They are finding that they need to take energy costs into account when figuring what people can afford. To afford more house is will need to be more efficient. If you want to buy an older home it might need to have an EEM to allow the deal to work.