UL and Intertek Partner With Homebuilders in Energy Rating Program
In case you didn’t see the announcement out of Florida, two big well-known names have entered the market for home energy ratings and energy code compliance. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Intertek are working with the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) certify home energy ratings, blower door tests, duct leakage tests, and other parts of the state energy code in Florida. It’s kind of a big deal.
TIC companies and the energy code
UL and Intertek are two of the big TIC companies. You know… Testing, Inspection, and Certification. You’ve seen their labels a gazillion times, I’m sure. Just take a look at your cell phone charger, microwave, or air conditioner. If a product has to meet regulatory requirements, there’s probably a TIC company’s label on it. With the optional energy code compliance pathways for home energy ratings and with many states requiring blower door and duct leakage testing, the TIC companies have taken notice.
Florida is the first state they’re getting into because the FHBA is interested in having competition in the market. The vast majority of new homes in the state — more than 90% I’m told — comply with their energy code through the performance pathway (section R405 in the International Energy Conservation Code, or IECC). That keeps a lot of home energy raters busy as Florida is one of the top states for new homes built each year.
Is this a new HERS standard?
In case you’re wondering if this is a whole new thing separate from RESNET’s Home Energy Rating System (HERS), the answer is no. In the past several years, RESNET went through the process of having its technical requirements for home energy ratings standardized through the ANSI process. The result is ANSI/RESNET/ICC 301-2014, a consensus standard that anyone can use.
And that’s exactly what UL and Intertek are doing. They’ll be certifying home energy ratings to the ANSI 301 standard, as well as certifying blower door tests, duct leakage tests, and more. This new partnership between the TIC companies and the Florida home builders provides choice to builders and and another way of offering services for raters and auditors.
For the home energy rating component, the technical standard is the same, but the process is somewhat different. The TIC companies work in the world of ISO standards, and the particular one they’ll be using for the quality assurance component here is ISO 17020. One of the differences between this process and RESNET’s is that it brings the certification process into real time. With RESNET, homes can be certified and get QA later. With this program, QA happens along with certification.
UL and Intertek have a lot of experience with moving voluntary markets to regulatory ones and the increase in scale that comes with that. Their entry into the residential energy code and home energy rating market could lead to big changes — and a lot of new opportunities — for those who work in this space.
Oh, one of those new opportunities I haven’t mentioned yet is water efficiency certification through Florida’s Water Star program.
If this program is of interest to you, you might want to make plans to be in Orlando at the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) next month. A half day onboarding class will introduce certified home energy raters and building analysts to the Florida program. The new program will use the existing rater-auditor-inspector network, so if you’re one of those in Florida, you’ll want to sign up for this class.
You can also follow the announcements from the FHBA as well as Triconic, the organization that brought the TIC companies and the FHBA together by creating a framework for the new program. I’ll also be writing more about here in the coming weeks and months.
Currently, this new program is just going to be in Florida. But UL and Intertek wouldn’t be entering this market if they didn’t see a bigger market. It could well be coming to your state next. Stay tuned!
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As an HVAC contractor that
As an HVAC contractor that routinely assists home builders navigate Florida’s present Byzantine energy code I have one big question:
Will this partnership break the effective monopoly now held by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) on Florida energy conservation permitting?
To my knowledge, FSEC owns the sole performance path software, and the program is a kludgey nightmare
Yes, Curt, this program gives
Yes, Curt, this program gives builders a choice. They can go through FSEC or they can go through FHBA. Currently, the only software available to do this in Florida is FSEC’s Energy Gauge. They’re with other rating software companies to add the capability to do Florida certifications, so stay tuned.
I kinda thought I might see you commenting here today. Guess I’ll probably see you at SEBC, too.
Allison, having trouble
Allison, having trouble finding more info about how a HERS Rater applies for this. Link on the SEBC page for your session comes back with a 404 error
Paul, sorry about that. I
Paul, sorry about that. I believe the FHBA is just about to make the announcement and open the SEBC session for registration. I’ll be one of the instructors, so if you sign up, I’ll see you there.
The situation is actually a
The situation is actually a little more complicated than that. This is Florida, after all. EnergyGauge is the only software that is certified for code compliance, both at permitting and for “as-built”. As from about a year ago, you can also use an ERI score to demonstrate compliance, but they have set the bar so high that very few will take advantage of this path. RESNET’s HERS rating is the only ERI scoring mechanism that will be acceptable (as far as I know). The HERS rating can be calculated using REM/RATE or EnergyGauge, but most people use EnergyGauge because then they can also do the compliance stuff.
Now things become even more complicated. Florida has voted to use their own Code at the base from now on, and to incorporate ICC Code as appropriate. So, we can project that over time, Florida’s code will diverge from ICC, and the method of calculating HERS will also become less compliant with Florida code.
In the meantime, Florida’s HERS raters have been fomenting a little rebellion against RESNET. The chief issue is the ongoing demands from RESNET to extract money from raters on the pretext of improving their knowledge through childish and irrelevant simulation software, which doesn’t even work properly to begin with, but requires hours of practise in order to become proficient at just the mechanics of using the software. Their rebellion (of which I am ashamed to say I am part) is neatly explained in their online petition to RESNET, here: https://www.change.org/p/steve-baden-stop-the-resnet-3d-practical-test
Speaking for myself, I am fed up with RESNET, but tied to them, because all my other work relies on HERS ratings. Energy Star, GGBC certification to name but two. If an alternative to HERS arises, count me in, I will be first in line.
Some rigour and QA on Leak Free Duct Tests and Infiltration (Blower Door) tests will also be welcome. At the moment there are a number of shady operators who write out LFDC certificates in their pajamas, because nobody checks and nobody cares.
End of rant. Apologies to all whom I might have offended.
There are questions concerning type a, b, or c inspectors.
As I understand this an individual inspector is not permitted to inspect any homes in which they have performed any work other than the energy inspection. With that said why is there even a b & c type.
I see this as an issue for many hvac contractors who also do compliance and energy ratings for builders they work with.
Your input for clarity on this will be appreciated greatly.
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