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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