HERS Index Scores are Expected to Change

HERSscore1In 2012, RESNET embarked on a two year project to have the Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS) calculation methodology accredited as an ANSI Standard.

This process resulted in two changes to the HERS Reference Home that will impact the HERS Index in all climate zones. These changes were necessary to shift the HERS Reference Home from a supplemental energy code (the 2004 IECC) to an energy code published by the International Code Council (the 2006 IECC). This shift was needed to lay the groundwork for the inclusion of the Energy Rating Index in the 2015 IECC.

The implementation of the ANSI/RESNET Standard 301-2014 will cause HERS Index scores to increase by an estimated 2 to 3 points due to aligning the reference home the 2006 IECC. It may also decrease by 3 to 6 points due to changes with efficient domestic water heating.  The impact is also dependent on climate zone and the number of the energy features incorporated into the home and how well they are installed.  The results should be a net change of 1 to 3 points in HERS Index scores over the current calculations if efficient domestic water heating systems are installed correctly.

Domestic water heating systems features that will be included in the HERS Index moving forward are:

  • High efficiency water heaters – are currently calculated in the HERS Index
  • Shorter pipe runs from the water heater to all fixtures but especially to the fixture farthest away from the water heater
  • On demand hot water circulation systems
  • Pipe insulation on hot water lines
  • Drain water heat recovery systems
  • High performance water based appliances such as clothes and dish washers

Release of the software that reflects the changes created by the new ANSI/RESNET Standard 301-2014 has been delayed.  We have been told that it will be available in September at which time we will be able to fully model the impact of the standard induced changes.  Another date of note is October 1st 2015 at which time Raters will be required to utilize the new software on all confirmed ratings.  These dates are subject to change.

Read RESNET’s full news release here.

Schwarz_ArticlePicRobby Schwarz
Principal and Director of Builder Relation
720-838-0677  email

 

ENERGY STAR® Has Released Revision 8

ENERGY STARRevision 8 of the ENERGY STAR® program is the most significant revision since the release of Version 3. It addresses some top concerns identified by ENERGY STAR Partners. It also aligns ENERGY STAR and RESNET’s HERS® rating process and improves the efficiency of new homes without compromising quality, comfort, or durability.

While the process of certifying a home for ENERGY STAR has slightly changed the structure of the checklists has changed significantly.  For example the builders’ water-management checklist is now a mandatory program requirement.  Builders need to review the now named “Water Management Systems Builder Requirements” list to ensure that your building practices fully comply.  A checklist will no longer be collected by the Rater.  On the HVAC side the program has divided the responsibilities between the HVAC designer and the installation contractor.  There are separate checklists covering each. The Rater checklists have also changed but the responsibilities have not been altered in any way.

You may need to spend a little time renewing your understanding of the program and its certification process. EnergyLogic and ENERGY STAR have provided a number of resources to help you gain an understanding of Revision 8.  We suggest a three step process for reviewing the changes.

To get started, we suggest you watch the following short ENERGY STAR videos:

EnergyLogic and ENERGY STAR have both recorded detailed webinars on Revision 8.  You can also download and review the new ENERGY STAR Revision 8 checklists and program documents on the same page.

ENERGY STAR Partnership Agreement ‘Terms and Commitments’ have also been updated and apply to all Builders Partners.

Revision 8 is in effect and can be implemented immediately. However, we believe that the HVAC contractor will be determining which version is used until Revision 8 is exclusively required after July 1, 2016. EnergyLogic is working hard to educate and encourage all of our partners to transition as soon as possible. It appears that the vast majority will accomplish this by the first of 2016. If so, well done!

Schwarz_ArticlePicRobby Schwarz
Principal and Director of Builder Relations
EnergyLogic, Inc.

Providers – Start Counting Your Quarters

Descending quarters on a white background showing loss or risk

RESNET QA Changes Now in Effect

There has been much deliberation over RESNET’s Quality Assurance (QA) requirements over the last few years, specifically the frequency of QA on raters.  In 2014, RESNET announced a big change that has gone into effect as of June 1st, 2015.

1% and 10% QA are still required for each rater based on annual volume – no changes here.  What has changed involves those managing a RESNET Providership and Quality Assurance Designees.

  • Providers must do 1% site QA every quarter based on the provider’s total counts from the previous quarter.
  • Once a Provider has met the annual quota for every rater (could be during any quarter) then you don’t need to keep going with the 1% of total provider count.

Addendum 15 states:

“904.4.2.3 The Provider shall complete a minimum of 1% quarterly onsite QA field reviews of the Provider’s ratings, based on the total number of ratings registered the previous quarter, until all annual QA requirements for the Provider have been met for each Rater. QA field reviews are not required on every Rater every quarter.”

EnergyLogic worked really hard to make it clear that quarterly QA of every rater would not be required.  We commented multiple times in the standard review process and we are glad this language was adopted.

However there is still a bit of gray area that providers need to consider. Let’s break down the site QA counting requirements in terms of buckets.

Pretend there’s a bucket for each quarter. Each bucket needs X amount of site QAs. The provider can mix and match which raters they choose to fill each of the buckets.  If a provider did 201 ratings in the last quarter then they require 3 field QAs in the next quarter. This way, providers have to spread out field QA throughout the year. However, once the annual 1% field QA requirements are met for every rater, then the provider no longer needs to fill their bucket of 1% of their total rating count for the quarter.  In other words, when all raters have met their annual allotted QA they don’t need to meet the quarterly QA requirements (assuming a rater doesn’t go over in the 4th quarter). RESNET is looking for the provider to spread out their field QA throughout the year, but not looking to put additional burden on the rater and we feel this was a good compromise.

We have worked up a visual aid with an example of how providers will need to track field QA.  In this example the provider is lucky enough to not need 4th Quarter QA.

buckets_Final 7-22

*The provider in this example chose to get a head start on their QA and do six site QAs in 2nd quarter where only three were required and five site QA’s in the 3rd quarter, where only three were required. This cut down on needing to do 4th Quarter QA, which is a good idea if you live in a snowy climate! We believe with a policy of only 2 site QAs per rater per quarter that this should still meet the intent of spreading out QA of high volume raters.

What should other providers consider?

Well let’s look at a scenario.  Let’s say by end of 3rd Quarter, a provider has done all the required QA based on each Rater/RFI like in the example above. Close the lid on site QA for the year right?  Well, 4th Quarter will probably see some raters going over the next 100.  In that case, the provider needs to do some 4th Quarter QA. This is pretty clear cut for some…

What is not clear is how frequently raters should get site QA. An answer lies in the justifications (found in the draft of the standard).

The justification states,

“A primary rationale for the proposal is to assure that QA field reviews are being completed on higher volume Raters within a timeframe that provides greater continuity of QA oversight.”   

This is one area where the standard and the justification do not exactly align and is creating some gray area for providers to fill in.

Our Raters Get 2nd QA Visit Free

EnergyLogic as a provider is considering a new policy that says “a Rater or RFI cannot have more than 2 field QAs per quarter, unless the rater has done more than 200 ratings in a quarter.” Since we are tallying Quarterly by the provider, but still trying to meet the intent of continuity of QA oversight of high volume raters, this policy seems fair and within the intent.  The good news for EnergyLogic’s Premium Rater Partners is that if a rater’s volume warrants a 2nd QA Visit, that rater’s 2nd visit is on us. This is our way of rewarding a successful rater and congratulating them on their efforts.  This is a major benefit to a rating company when time comes to budget their QA costs.

What if you did a bunch of site QA on raters in earlier quarters?  Is this cheating?

Not necessarily, but the intent is continuity of QA of high volume raters throughout the year so you should make an effort to spread things out for those raters. This is why EnergyLogic’s Providership is considering the policy above so that we align with the intent of the standard.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please share them here or email me directly at ratersupport@nrglogic.com.

Pease_ArticlePic

Glenn Pease
Professional Services Program Manager / Instructor
EnergyLogic, Inc.

Eye in the Sky: : Remote Video QA

Happy little pilot flying in retro jet fighter.Access to homes for on-site QA is challenging, costly, and difficult to schedule with low volume raters. EnergyLogic is piloting a quality assurance program using video conferencing. No, no, no, we don’t get to use the quad-copter mini camera drone I got for Christmas last year, darn it…

Limited accessibility requires careful planning and often means there is less room for random selection and “credible discovery” in the QA process. Compounding the issue of accessibility is that low volume raters often don’t have a provider in their area.  In this case, the provider often times has to schedule QA with the rater weeks in advance in order to accommodate travel schedules and access to a home.

While EnergyLogic still performs site QA to meet our RESNET obligation for every rater, we are piloting a quality assurance program using video conferencing. This pilot goes beyond the RESNET minimums and annual on-site QA. It does not replace those requirements. However, we would like to see if random video conferencing of a rater on-site would help strengthen our quality assurance program. We hope it will strengthen the argument that in some circumstances, remote video conferencing may actually be more in-line with RESNET’s intent of random QA selection.

So what’s next? Well, we need a few candidates to help try this out.  Are you interested?  Here’s what we’re looking for.

Pilot Candidates & QA Delegates

Ideally we are looking for a handful of folks in each of the categories below.  All candidates in this initial phase must have 4G cell coverage in their area and access to a smart phone and/or tablet.  However if you fit into either of the circumstances below and are willing to rent a satellite internet setup, we are willing to consider this as an alternative.

  • Mid to high volume (100 + ratings/year ) with blind QA where the rater is willing to redo a rating that was already submitted
  • Low to mid volume (1 to 100 ratings/year) with a friendly competitor in the area who can qualify as a QAD delegate (active with over 25 ratings experience)
    • The delegate could do the site QA and we would use live video conferencing to guide the delegate
  • Low volume (less than 25 ratings) with no delegate candidates in their area

In cases where a QA delegate is on site for the event, EnergyLogic may consider using the delegate’s visit as meeting the annual site QA requirements and will determine this on a case by case basis.  If you meet any of the criteria above and are interesting in volunteering in this pilot, please email ratersupport@nrglogic.com

Help us Create Change and Stay Ahead of the Curve

Sometimes you have to experiment and learn from experience before an idea has earned credibility.  Remote video QA is one of those ideas that has been thrown around, but never earned credibility to be implemented in the RESNET Standard.  Experiences from this pilot will be presented to RESNET Staff and committee members to help earn this credibility.

Contact  ratersupport@nrglogic.com for more info, or call Glenn Pease directly at 970-980-5919.

RESNET® Pro Courses Now Available to Residential Building Industry

EnergyLogic Academy is now offering two new courses designed to educate residential home professionals the RESNET Home Energy Rating System (HERS). The course will teach the workings of the Home Energy Rating Industry to ‘non-Raters’ who work with Raters in New Residential Building.  We are proud to introduce the RESNET HERS Advisor and HERS Designer courses. Steve Byers, CEO of EnergyLogic, explains the purpose, the point, and the benefit of the classes.

HERS-AdvisorQ. What triggered the need for these classes, what do they accomplish?”

A. Over the years we’ve had professionals such as Architects, Engineers, Builders, Real Estate Agents and more recently, Code Officials take the full Rater Training to learn about RESNET and how HERS Raters work. It was time to offer something to them that was geared toward what they were looking for, and priced accordingly.”

Q. Why not take the full rater training? Wouldn’t that be more comprehensive?

A.  Well… for a person who wants to work in the field doing ratings, sure. But for a Code Official or an Architect, why spend that kind of time and money? In the past, they were compelled to take HERS Rater training in order to access the knowledge base and/or the software.  It is an exercise in frustration for these individuals as they know they are taking training that isn’t going to meet their ultimate objective. Now we offer an educational path that makes sense for their industry.  These courses address the true needs of those professionals, and we are a reliable and experienced source to offer that training.

Steve Byers listens intently

For a more in-depth look at the two courses, I interviewed Matt Thornberry,  Training & Education Manager for the EnergyLogic Academy, who is working with RESNET to develop these new designations, RESNET HERS Advisor and RESNET HERS Designer. Matt is also the author of the courses and oversees the students.

Q.  Who is a ‘HERS Advisor?’

A.  The HERS Advisor is a professional connected to the new residential building industry who understands and can advise others on RESNET’s HERS. HERS Raters are playing a larger role in the residential construction industry and are verifying compliance for the International Energy Conservation Codes (IECC). As the Rater’s role in the residential construction industry grows, so does the need for a wider understanding of their qualifications, process, inspections, computer modeling, and tools. A HERS Advisor holds that understanding and can apply it to their part of the home building process when needed.

Q.  Who is a HERS Designer?

HERS-DesignerA.  A HERS Designer has gone one step beyond the HERS Advisor training by learning the process of performing a from-plans rating just as HERS Raters do before a home is ever constructed to help guide decisions about designing the home. They have been trained on a step-by-step creation of a from-plans rating using REM/Rate.

Q.  Are these RESNET approved courses?

A.  RESNET is actively considering creating a “designation” for the HERS Advisor and Designer courses and ultimately, “certification” for the HERS Designer path.

Q. Do these courses offer CEU’s or designations from any governing body?

A. At this time, HERS Advisor has been approved for .50 continuing education units from ICC. HERS Designer has been submitted for approval recently. We’re exploring offering other professional development credits from AIA and other organizations as well. Currently there is no designation; however EnergyLogic is working to get both pathways recognized by RESNET as an official designation.

If you’re interested in learning more about EnergyLogic Academy’s RESNET HERS Advisor or Designer courses, you can visit them at the EnergyLogic Academy’s RESNET Pro page.