Take a Stand on the Standard – RESNET® Standards and You!

Got an axe to grind? Express yourself on the RESNET Standards!

If you are a HERS Rater (or even if you’re not and you’ve got an axe to grind) and you’ve ever moaned, griped, complained or whined about the Mortgage Industry National Home Energy Rating Standards; more commonly known as the RESNET Standard, now is your time to stand up and make your voice heard.

That’s right.  Look here:

RESNET PROPOSES FIRST ANSI STANDARD FOR THE CALCULATION AND LABELING OF THE ENERGY PERFORMANCE OF LOW-RISE RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS USING THE HERS INDEX (RESNET STANDARD 301-2012)

What’s that mean?  It means you have a golden opportunity to make your voice heard in influencing the future RESNET Standard.  You don’t have forever to do this.  The deadline for comments is October 9th.  That’s plenty of time to get your two cents of opinion (I know that most of you have at least three cents worth of opinion) in for consideration.

I suggest coming with good, sound, well-reasoned arguments.  I’m not on the committee, but I’m guessing that opinion without foundation, poorly reasoned arguments, half-truths, self-serving positions and other such folderol will not make it past the committee.  Of course, it’s a public comment period, so you can, of course, do as you wish.

Here is the link to get started: http://www.resnet.us/professional/standards/proposed_consensus_standards

And here’s some further food for thought.  This is a discussion on the RESNET LinkedIn group:

http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=3540707&type=member&item=135001488&commentID=89879825&trk=group_search_item_list-0-b-cmn&goback=.gna_3540707#commentID_89879825

This discussion thread (scroll down), eventually gets to a topic regarding the RESNET Standard.  David Butler, our esteemed colleague, who does a fantastic job of moderating the RESNET BPI Energy Audit and Home Performance group, also on LinkedIn, brings up a point of fact in the standard that seems ripe for change.  Did you know that you don’t have to perform a blower door test or do duct leakage testing to have a valid HERS Rating?  It’s true, the Standard doesn’t require it.  It is the purview of the HERS Provider to create such a requirement.

Truth be told, I don’t know any HERS Providers that do so.  At the same time, I don’t know any Raters that use this loophole, but it’s there and it seems like an excellent time to fill that hole.  The reality is that RESNET Rating compliant software imposes a penalty if you choose not to test.  However, those penalties aren’t as severe as you might think.  I firmly believe that blower door testing should always be required for a valid HERS Rating.  I’m comfortable with the current requirements for duct leakage testing (I’m well aware of the debate around the issue).

I’d like to make a final point that I believe does get lost in the discussion.  The Standard is like code in the sense that it is a MINIMUM.  Providers can always set higher standards for anything that they believe merits such.  However, I believe we do all want a Standard that sets an appropriate and defensible minimum set of expectations.

What do you think?

And don’t forget… October 9th.  This is like voting in an election folks.  You probably ought not complain if you don’t speak up.

Commodities and Quality – Residential Energy Efficiency at a Crossroads

Soapbox – check. 

Drum – check.

Dead horse – check.

Okay, everyone ready?

Whether it is in training or the delivery of services to homebuilders, homeowners, utility clients, you name it, the race to the bottom is fraught with peril for anyone engaged in the race.  The vast majority of folks that I know in this industry (RESNET and BPI), big and small, near and far, are committed to maintaining the quality of the work that we all do.  We decidedly have differences of opinion about how to deliver quality, but not that we want to do so.

The question to me is whether we want to commodify the industry or not.  We’ve seen recent fallout in the training sector for what happens when you go too far down that road.  We’ve seen it repeatedly in both audits and energy ratings as well.  I’m hard pressed to point to a place where a race to the bottom occurred and the “winner” of the race really “won” at the end of the day.

Do we want to strive for efficiency in our operations?  Absolutely.  Do we want to keep working to deliver training and education in the most time and cost effective ways possible?  You bet.  Are we still a young industry working toward all these and a raft of other exciting things.  Yes!  That’s what makes the industry exciting and dynamic and challenging.

I’m a firm believer that the long term health of our industry is actually best served by steady, sustainable growth that doesn’t reek of a “bubble”, a “boondoggle” or handouts.  In a future that has sustainable growth, we can maintain high standards, avoid races to the bottom that spring from desperation created by the random coming and going of government largesse.

As Seth Godin asks, “Do you really want to win the race to the bottom?”  We don’t and I hope you don’t either.  All that said, I’m really interested in your opinions on this issue.  I think it’s central to our future.

Steve