Tag Archive for: ERI

If you’ve had the pleasure of being in or around the Energy Rating Industry for any period of time, you have undoubtedly encountered some misinformation.

Some of it is driven by frequently changing proprietary standards in days past, with it being poorly communicated to the furthest reaches of the industry. I can’t fault people for saying, “You don’t tape to the drywall,” when the provider responsible for informing a Rater of standards updates doesn’t talk to the Rater without being paid in 15 minute increments.

Unfortunately, others are common marketing refrains, like “effective R-value”. In other words – purposeful misinformation. I won’t speak to the intent behind them, whether from ignorance or malice – I don’t know what goes on in other peoples’ heads.

But today we’re going to cut one of these misinformation weeds down (and hopefully pull the roots out – if you help share this).

This is the misinformation we’re slaying today:

“A HERS™ Index [or ERI] of 100 is a code new home, while a 130 is an existing home.”

– Some marketing person

No doubt you’ve seen this repeated somewhere. I’ve come across it more and more as the Energy Rating Industry expands. Sometimes it’s just “100 is new construction”, other times it’s “a standard new house is a 100”.

But this statement is completely false.

Unfortunately, this is a two part statement and I’ll be focused on the first half. Just keep in mind…the second half also has issues.

What’s in a hundred anyways?

It’s worth taking a second to remind ourselves exactly what an ERI (or proprietary calculations like the HERS™ Index) is based on. The short of it – it is a normalized modified end-use load (nMEUL) based calculation. The details are not critical, but in short this dumbs the efficiency of gas appliances down to more easily compare electric and natural gas appliances.

The roots of this were in the “fuel wars” – the architect and organization that promoted this calculation didn’t want to upset either the electric or the oil & gas industries. In the process, everyone lost (Footnote 1).

Part of this calculation meant there had to be a benchmark or reference home to compare the as-built structure against. After all, if you didn’t have a generic home to compare against, you would encounter some significant issues just comparing nMEULs to nMEULs from different rated homes. They can get big, unwieldy, and, frankly, unless you’re a research scientist, a person on the side walk isn’t going to understand what you’re talking about.

Also, you might find that those massive mansions actually use a lot of energy, even after they’ve switched from incandescent to LEDs.

So they had to craft a reference home that would allow homes to be fairly benchmarked against.

Oh – I should also probably mention this was all happening in the lead up to 2006. That’s important.

What does 2006 have to do with anything?

Well, that was when the 2006 IECC was created – which helped usher in a more uniform energy code for authority having jurisdictions (AHJs) to adopt and implement.

It helped even everything out, and create a common language.

Functionally, what the author(s) of the HERS™ Index did was craft a calculation so the Reference Home, based on the 2006 IECC (with modifications from updates to the code), equals a HERS™ Index of 100.

The proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes. And I want to focus on a U-factor table – specifically Table 402.1.1 in the 2006 IECC (Footnote 2).

Look at this table – Climate Zone (CZ) 1 has a maximum allowed u-factor of 1.20. CZ 2 has 0.75. CZ 3 has 0.65. CZ 4 (except marine) has 0.40. CZ 5 (and Marine 4), CZ 6, 7, and 8 has a maximum allowed 0.35.

This table lays the reference home values for the prescriptive and Total U-alternative paths. It also (conveniently) plays a role in a HERS™ Index calculation.

You see – why reinvent the wheel? There’s a table of reference home values that every code official certified by the ICC would recognize, let’s just use that.

Now go to ANSI 301, the baseline calculation for the ERI, which the HERS™ Index is a derivative of.

Specifically, Table 4.2.2(2) Component Heat Transfer Characteristics for Energy Rating Reference Home (Footnote 3).

What’s this?!

CZ 1: U-1.20, CZ 2: U-0.75, CZ 3: U-0.65, CZ 4 (except marine): U-0.40, CZ 5, Marine 4, 6, 7, and 8: U-0.35.

It has been that way since the HERS™ Index was created, and the reference home has not significantly changed since then. That is because when you use a calculation like this, supposedly so you can calculate when you get to “Net Zero”, if you change the reference home to, say, the 2021 U-Factor references, you actually change the goal posts completely. That extends the field beyond reasonability, and makes it a useless metric.

I’ve been living a lie!

While I could sit here and tell you to look through the rest of the tables, comparing the two – I think you understand.

A HERS™ Index 100 is not “new construction”.

A HERS™ Index 100 is actually a 2006 IECC code home.

What should you do with this newfound knowledge?

Stop spreading misinformation!

When you say a “100 is a code new home”, you’re perpetuating a falsehood that demeans that actual levels of construction we see, of the progress we’ve made in the last 15 years. You’re also completely misunderstanding how the HERS™ Index is actually calculated.

Above all – you’re participating in false advertising. It is patently false that a HERS™ 100 is a “new construction” home.

What about the other half of the statement?

Well, you should probably stop saying that, too. While it’s a separate issue for another day, I’ll leave you with this:

There has been no study of homes built prior to 2006 to appropriately estimate the average Index of a pre-2006 built home. 

Not one person can actually point to a rigorous study on it.

Anecdotally – my house, built in 1998 clocks in at a HERS™ 104 (ERI 91) (Footnote 4). Other existing homes I’ve rated, like another 1998 built home, came in at the mid-70s.

I know it’s anecdotal and I’m lucky to live in a home built near or better-than the 2006 levels, but it should indicate there are some issues.

How do you actually calculate an Index, anyway?

So what happens now that you have nMEULs for the as-built and the reference home? Easy peasy – you do Equation 4.1-2 from ANSI 301… Which states:

Energy Rating Index = PEfrac * (TnML / (TRL* IAFRH)) * 100 

Now, in plain English:

The Energy Rating Index equals the:

  1. Reference Home end use loads multiplied by the index adjustment factor of the rated home
    1. (TRL* IAFRH)
  2. Divide the Rated Home’s nMEULs by the number from Step 1 (circle this number – we’ll come back to it later)
    1. (TnML / (TRL* IAFRH))
  3. Subtract the on-site power production from the total energy use of the rated home
  4. Divide Step 3 by the total energy use of the rated home
    1. PEfrac – encompasses Step 3 and Step 4
  5. Multiply the circled number from Step 2 by the number you got in Step 4
  6. Multiple Step 5 by 100

You’ve now calculated an Energy Rating Index!

Footnotes

  1. Of course, times have changed – they recently added more calculations to create a CO2e Index, which measures the carbon use of the fuel at the home (with some source energy modifications). This, as you imagine, weighs heavily in favor of an electrified future. Guess they’ve finally picked a winner, eh?
  2. Page 19: https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IECC2006/chapter-4-residential-energy-efficiency
  3. Table 4.2.2(1): https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/RESNET3012019P1/4-energy-rating-calculation-procedures-
  4. If you’re curious about why the ERI value is different from the HERS™ Index value, you should also wonder why the standards development organization in charge of the 301 calculation modifies the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) Standard and passes it off as the “gold standard” through their proprietary standards. In other words, my suggestion is you should be requesting an ERI calculated in accordance with the ANSI Standard, rather than a proprietary calculation. And any program referencing a proprietary calculation should step back and clarify exactly why they aren’t basing the program on the ANSI Standard.

PLEASE NOTE: Any use of “RESNET®” or other registered trademarks by Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co. does not indicate ownership, sponsorship, or endorsement by the registered trademark owners. Any use of registered trademarks falls under informational, editorial, or comparative use.

What is the difference between

Energy Ratings and ENERGY STAR®?

Your guide to understanding Energy Ratings and ENERGY STAR

With more interest in the EPA’s ENERGY STAR New Homes and Apartments program than ever before, it is critical to discuss the differences between an “energy rating” and the ENERGY STAR certification.

The primary distinctions between the two are:

  1. Purpose
  2. Scope
  3. Recognition

Below you will find a breakdown of both energy ratings, ENERGY STAR certification, and the compare/contrast along the above three distinctions.

What is an Energy Rating?

Or, why is someone “rating” my house?

Energy Ratings, commonly referred to as “HERS™ Ratings” after a proprietary rating system, are a process by which an inspector collects data on a dwelling unit, inputs the collected data into a software tool, and generates an Energy Rating Index (ERI).

What data is being collected?

Typically in an Energy Rating, the inspectors collect data on what is called “minimum rated features”. These range from the model number, manufacturer, and location of HVAC equipment – to the R-value of insulation installed in the ceiling or walls. A full list of minimum rated features can be found in ANSI 301, Appendix B (the full standard can be found online here).

These inspectors will also perform tests on the “thermal envelope” (a fancy way of saying where insulation is installed) and HVAC system. The tests are commonly called the blower door and duct leakage tests.

The blower door test

The blower door test measures the infiltration rate of the thermal envelope. That’s somewhat of a misnomer – air both leaves and enters the thermal envelope over the course of a year, but the test typically measures one or the other. Why does this matters?

If you have a house with a high infiltration rate, that means more outside air enters and the conditioned air leaves your house over the course of the year. Just think about this – it just rained (spring showers bring May flowers, right?) and it’s muggy outside. The humidity levels are high…and your house has a poor infiltration rate.

All that muggy, humid air? It more easily finds a way inside, causing discomfort and potential contribution to the failure of your building (in combination with other factors). That means mold growth, rot of materials, and more. A bad example of this: stepping onto a floor and getting split by the floor beam because the floor rotted out from the high humidity.

Important to note – there are several different testing standards used, and different protocols, to perform the blower door test. ANSI 380 and ASTM E779 are both recognized by the International Code Council’s (ICC) International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Different above code programs, like the passive house standard, require testing both depressurization and pressurization rates at multiple test points. While they aren’t all the same, and they have different purposes and goals, each of these testing protocols are useful in their own contexts.

The duct leakage test(s)

Whelp, I hate to break it to you but there are actually two different duct leakage tests: the “total” duct leakage and the leakage to outside tests.

The total duct leakage test is often used to meet the IECC threshold. A higher-than allowed test result equals a failure, meaning the system must be tightened before occupancy (in an ideal world). An equal-to or less-than result means the dwelling unit can be occupied.

This test uses a duct blower (typically called a “duct blaster™”) to estimate how much air escapes the duct system at a specified test pressure. This matters because you aren’t paying just for how much air you cool or heat your house with – you’re also paying for all the air that doesn’t get delivered to your rooms, but is still run through the system. That means your delivered cost (i.e. how much you pay for energy to get a cooler house in the summer and a warmer house in the winter) may actually be higher if your system is really leaky.

The second test, the leakage to outside, pairs a blower door set at a specific test pressure with a duct blower creating a neutral pressure at the termination of the duct system. The leaks measured with this test are all the leaks leaving the thermal envelope completely – not being reintroduced into the house.

Of the two, technically the leakage to outside is a more valuable test (in the author’s humble opinion) – since it’s actually measuring the conditioned air you pay for but don’t get to use…but it doesn’t matter because the energy code references total leakage.

This is actually where you start to see a divergence from energy code and energy ratings. Energy code compliance does not require a leakage to outside test – whereas an energy rating does require a leakage to outside test (barring the dwelling unit meeting one of the exemption paths in a given standard).

Why should I get an energy rating?

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, an energy rating means your house typically undergoes a higher-than-code inspection process. That includes additional tests (like the leakage to outside test), as well as the inspectors receiving quality oversight from an organization such as Building Science Institute.

Most builders have found that receiving an energy rating reduces callbacks, as the inspectors find issues before a home is complete. The real trick, of course, is getting those issues fixed by the relevant trade contractor…and frankly, having an inspection company willing to call out these issues.

What’s an “ENERGY STAR”?

Or, why you should participate in the program…

The ENERGY STAR New Homes and Apartments Program is divided between the Single-Family New Construction (SFNC) and the Multifamily New Construction (MFNC) programs. This program has a stringent certification process, but the benefits? Oh boy, are there benefits…

What does the program require?

Three parties in the construction process must receive partnership status: Verification companies (also known as Rating companies), builders, and HVAC contractors (a caveat will arrive shortly).

Verification companies must have employees trained in the program requirements and pass the ENERGY STAR Exam prior to completing a partnership agreement. This partnership agreement ties the company to one of the ENERGY STAR Home Certification Organizations (HCOs), like Building Science Institute. It also means the companies receive additional oversight from their specified HCO on projects that are going through the certification process.

The builders should attend a builder training seminar prior to signing a partnership agreement. Their agreement indicates that they will meet the Partnership Agreement Terms and Commitment. An example of this: a single-family builder must have at least one home certified as ENERGY STAR in the previous 12 months to maintain the partnership status.

The HVAC Contractor will also need to sign a partnership agreement – but like the verification companies, the HVAC contractor will receive oversight from an “HQUITO”. Examples of this include ACCA and Advanced Energy. If your HVAC contractor is NOT listed on either of those companies’s website, they are NOT an ENERGY STAR HVAC contractor.

The caveat I mentioned? Well, some of the HVAC commissioning activities can be completed by the verification company, if they have been certified for the ANSI 310 HVAC grading standard.

What’s this about checklists?

Probably the thing many folks think about are the checklists. In addition to the National Program Requirements, different parties (typically the verification company, HVAC designer, and HVAC contractor) are mandated to complete checklists based on the home as it is built.

There are some high risks to playing in the ENERGY STAR Program, and this is where the rubber meets the road. You see – if an inspector goes out to a project and sees one thing that does not comply with the program requirements and isn’t fixed…

It can’t be certified under the ENERGY STAR Program.

That is why it is so important to make sure everyone understands exactly what is expected of them prior to the project getting started. Some examples I’ve seen over the years of where a home fails to meet ENERGY STAR certification:

  1. The HVAC contractor they used for the design and commissioning of the system wasn’t an ENERGY STAR Partner with quality oversight from ACCA or Advanced Energy.
  2. The Verification Company that did their inspections wasn’t an ENERGY STAR Partner and didn’t have staff certified to inspect ENERGY STAR Homes.
  3. The framing contractor refused to use “less wood” in the practice of “when in doubt, build it stout” – failing to meet the agreed upon advanced framing standard.
  4. The builder started the partnership agreement…but didn’t finish it before the project was started.
  5. The insulator claimed the 4″ of spray foam installed at the roof deck was equivalent to R-50 blown-in insulation, and when it was properly modeled, failed to meet the ENERGY STAR Index threshold.

If you can’t tell – there are a lot of moving parts to the ENERGY STAR certification. “One wrong move”, so to speak, and it’s all going down the wrong path.

The Good News

I know you might be saying something like, “That sounds like a lot of work,” or, “I’m scared.” Trust me, I’ve been in the same place.

The good news? There are some incredible benefits from undergoing such a stringent process.

First – there are multiple incentives from utility providers up to the federal level for achieving ENERGY STAR. The well-liked 45L Tax Credit, starting in 2023, will be tied to ENERGY STAR certification. Utility providers typically offer additional rebates, per dwelling unit, on top of other rebates.

Second – some jurisdictions, like Texas, allow ENERGY STAR certified homes to automatically meet the state energy code. They recognize that the ENERGY STAR Program offers such a high-level of quality, any home certified as ENERGY STAR is automatically recognized as “code compliant”.

Third – most importantly: the homeowner benefits. I don’t know about you, but in my mind, the person living in the house at the end of the build cycle should be considered. They get a house that is more comfortable. They get a house that saves them money, on average, compared to a standard code home. They get a house that will see fewer building failures because it has been designed, tested, and built to be more efficient and comfortable.

Frankly – as my grandpa used to tell my dad: “Son, build a house that you’d be proud for your mom to live in.”

If you can’t say that about the end result…maybe you should find another industry to work in.

The Three Distinctions

Which is not quite the same as the story of the three little piggies…

If you remember, up at the very top I mentioned there were three distinctions between Energy Ratings and the ENERGY STAR certification: Purpose, Scope, and Recognition.

Purpose

An energy rating may be used to show compliance with energy code. It is also sometimes used to generate an Energy Rating Index (ERI), which many sales people use as an energy efficiency metric.

An ENERGY STAR certification indicates the design, construction, and performance meet a stringent process that produces a better performing and more comfortable home for the end user.

Scope

An energy rating requires inspectors to test and inspect the minimum rated features of a dwelling unit. That said, homes can meet different exemptions (for instance, a house with a conditioned attic can skip the leakage to outside test should it meet certain prerequisites) where minimum rated features would necessarily be reviewed.

An ENERGY STAR certification requires additional features, beyond the minimum rated features, to be reviewed. This includes the HVAC design, the HVAC commissioning, water management guidelines, and more. That means not only are the minimum rated features being inspected – so are many aspects beyond the initial scope of the energy rating.

Recognition

Near the beginning, I mentioned Energy Ratings are oftentimes called HERS™ Ratings, after a proprietary system. While that proprietary system has been around for nearly three decades, it pales in comparison to the brand recognition of ENERGY STAR.

A market study found that 80+% of the survey respondents recognized ENERGY STAR…while only 20% recognized “HERS™ Ratings”.

Think about it yourself – the last time you went to Lowe’s or Home Depot (virtually or in-person) to look at all the appliances? ENERGY STAR, ENERGY STAR, ENERGY STAR. You go to Best Buy and look at TVs? ENERGY STAR, ENERGY STAR, ENERGY STAR.

Everyone sees ENERGY STAR when they go to the store – and they know it means the product has been certified in a system to mean “better”.

On top of that, many other programs base their initial certification requirements on ENERGY STAR – Zero Energy Ready Home, for instance.

If you want a recognizable brand associated with your house, or to get your foot in the door for other programs, ENERGY STAR is the way to go.

Why wait – find a Verification Company that can help you today.

Frequently Asked Questions

And some definitions thrown in here as well…

What’s the difference between an “Energy Rating” and a “HERS™ Rating”?

Functionally, nothing. HERS™ Rating is a term typically referring to RESNET®’s proprietary system, but has become a generic reference like Sheetrock™ or Kleenex™.

What is an Energy Rating Index (ERI)?

The ERI is the output of a calculation based on normalized modified end-use loads. There are multiple variants, but most use the ANSI 301 calculation as the baseline. The 2015 IECC ERI is based on ANSI 301-2014. The 2018 IECC ERI is based on ANSI 301-2014 (second published edition). The 2021 IECC ERI is based on ANSI 301-2019. Each version of code makes modifications to the mechanical ventilation, which means each ERI will be different. The HERS™ Index, also based on ANSI 301, goes further, and has an entirely separate standard of modifications made to it by RESNET®. What this does is create an output typically lower than the “true” ANSI 301 calculated ERI, even though there are no significant differences in the model.

What is a “RESNET®”?

Most often autocorrected to “resent” after the feelings many of their members feel after having the rug pulled from under their feet (again, and again, and again…), Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET®) is a 501c3 membership organization that is also recognized by the EPA as an ENERGY STAR Home Certification Organization.

Wait, I thought RESNET® was the standards development organization for ANSI 301, too?

Yes – they have stated they update the HERS™ Index through their proprietary MINHERS Standards so “The HERS Index must remain nimble and responsive to change in the face of evolving competition…”

We can only speculate who they were referring to


PLEASE NOTE: Any use of “RESNET®” or other registered trademarks by Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co. does not indicate ownership, sponsorship, or endorsement by the registered trademark owners. Any use of registered trademarks falls under informational, editorial, or comparative use.

Professional Quality Management For The Energy Rating Industry

[SAN ANTONIO, TX, MAY 18, 2022] — The Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co. has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as an ENERGY STAR® Home Certification Organization with responsibility to provide quality management and certification oversight for the ENERGY STAR New Homes program. For the first time since 1995, verification organizations and homebuilders have a choice for professional quality management oversight in the energy rating industry.

ENERGY STAR certified homes and apartments are designed and built to deliver peace of mind, improved comfort, enduring quality, and energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR label is a symbol of trust, quality, and responsible environmental stewardship recognized by consumers, manufacturers, and homebuilders.

Home Certification Organizations, such as the Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co., are independent organizations recognized by the EPA to implement an ENERGY STAR certification program based on the ENERGY STAR Residential New Construction program requirements for single-family and multifamily homes and apartments.

“We deliver greater consistency, transparency, and confidence to our clients through our robust quality management system based on internationally recognized standards,” said General Manager Brett Dillon. “We are thrilled to offer the industry a choice for the first time in almost 30 years.”

Brett is the former chair of the committee responsible for writing the American National Standards for Energy Rating Index calculations, inspections, and testing. 

The Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co. was created to improve the quality, consistency, and impartiality of the energy efficiency certification industry and, as members of the American Society for Quality, the team is focused on improving the process to deliver professional quality management.

To ensure consistency in the home certification program, the Building Science Institute partnered with HouseRater, a software development company based in Minnesota. HouseRater uses EnergyPlus, a calculation engine developed by the Department of Energy at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to produce the code compliance calculations and the Energy Rating Index (ERI) for the ENERGY STAR home certification program.

“At HouseRater, we’ve worked closely with the Building Science Institute’s Quality Council to develop the tools to support BSI’s mission. We’re excited to offer the first comprehensive software solution. From project creation, scheduling site visits, performing inspections, generating and sending inspection reports, to final ENERGY STAR verification, BSI’s clients can do it all in HouseRater.” said Erik Straite, business development manager for HouseRater.

The Building Science Institute’s ENERGY STAR certification program is guided by the Institute’s Quality Council, a group of industry experts charged with independent oversight of the program.

The Quality Council members are Col. Kevin Burk, US Army (Ret.), CEO of RK Burk Consulting, Inc.; Amber Wood, Director of Buildings at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE); Brian Christensen, Product Director and Chief Building Scientist of Residential Energy Management Services; Erik Straite, Business Development Manager, HouseRater, LLC; and non-voting chair Brett Dillon, General Manager of the Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co.

Col. Kevin Burk served in the US Army for 28 years, retiring as a colonel of Military Police before starting his business in the building science and home energy rating industry. He is a certified energy rater and International Code Council-certified Residential Energy Code Plans Examiner and Inspector.

Amber Wood directs the Buildings Program at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Amber holds a Master of Science in engineering systems from the Colorado School of Mines and is a registered professional engineer.

Brian Christensen has worked in the field of residential building science for over 20 years, applying his background in physics and mechanical engineering. He now develops software products that aim to serve the unique needs of home performance verification businesses.

Erik Straite began working in the energy rating industry as a financial auditor, then moved into roles in utility program design, implementation, and quality assurance. Erik continues his work on utility programs and provides technical support for HouseRater’s users and energy code guidance for its developers. He holds a degree in economics from Arizona State University.

Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co. is a privately held company headquartered in the San Antonio, TX area.

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Our Beliefs Are Our Beacon to Help Us Navigate the Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous World

When others may have lost their way, we held fast to what we believe and made the best decisions we could to build a better future for the energy rating industry.

We still hold those beliefs and continue to build that future.

That’s why we created the Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co. and the innovative Quality Management System we operate, a Quality Management System that reflects our core principles and values, contributes our expertise that produces actionable insights, and leverages technology to do what others only dream about.

Our beliefs about people, work, life, and what’s most important are the heart of our Quality Management System. We know these things are true and they anchor us through the storms of life and business, and show us the way when things get difficult.

IF you are ready to talk with us about changing to our professional Quality Management organization, just fill out this form.

We Believe

We believe in truth, justice, and freedom. 

We believe a business that controls clients to increase revenue is a soul-stealing monster, a parasite.

We believe a business that demands loyalty from their customers doesn’t deserve either.

We believe the purpose of capitalism is to improve society. That’s why we are a business.

We believe the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. That’s why we focus on innovation and marketing.

We believe our business is a vehicle to help the people who work here increase their value to their families, communities, and world.

We believe the purpose of technology is to make our work better and our lives easier.

We believe you should have the freedom to do what you do as long as you don’t harm yourself or anyone else.

We are warriors who fight for the life we want to live…and the freedom for others to do the same.

We believe it is our duty to defend those who can’t defend themselves. We must oppose tyrants, speak truth to power, and sacrifice what we must to build a better world. Then we will be a good ancestor.

We know the only way to make the world better tomorrow is to have the courage and wit to face up to reality today. The brave build only on truth.

We believe we have a moral obligation to do what we must, even when everyone else sits on the sidelines.

We believe people with purpose make all the difference in the world.

We know work is something you learn to love so it becomes your calling, not a career.

We know the crazy, wonderful, weird uniqueness of each individual is a mess worth engaging with.

We know the lives of the people within an organization are more important than that organization’s identity and sanctity.

We believe that most people want to become better at who they are…those who don’t want to can go away. Time’s too precious to waste on them.

We know our people are the only sustainable competitive advantage we have— and we treat them that way.

We know our clients are our lifeblood— they chose us and we honor that choice with our work.

We believe our clients reward us because they love what we do for them, not because we force them.

We believe we have to earn our way in this world every day. To live off yesterday’s victories wastes the only moment we have to build our future.

We are hard on our work and easy on each other.

We believe to do the wrong thing well is stupid. So we are effective, not just efficient.

We inspire, motivate, and cheerlead our clients to do more, have more, and become more.

We believe a life full of meaning is more important than a bank account full of cash. So we put our family ahead of our work.

We know the real difference between professionals and amateurs isn’t the pay.

We never stop getting good.

We believe the only way to assess competence is through demonstration, not exams. It’s more important to be able to do, not talk about doing.

We work as much as possible at the limits of our strength zones, and outside our comfort zones.

We make mistakes. We own them, fix them, and share the learning. We change our minds when the evidence suggests we’re wrong.

We don’t spin our results. Only the truth leads to growth.

We dare to innovate. And execute that innovation with excellence.

We know the combination of capability, behaviors, and the right culture creates wins.

We believe that “Not bad” isn’t good— we pursue excellence in what we do.

We put our faith in evidence, not dogma—there is no dogma in proper science.

We know emergent patterns are always wiser than received wisdom.

We know “That’s not how we do it here” is the trigger to keep doing it, only more, faster, better, and with as many people as possible.  Only Challengers create change.

We tell the truth as we see it, and we see the world as it is…not the way we want it to be.

We do the right thing, even when it’s painful or inconvenient, because that’s who we are. 

We know loyalty and respect are earned, not demanded.

We do what we say. It may not happen when we want it, but it will happen.

We encourage constructive dissent. We know that we become better when we have a wider perspective.

We don’t question goodwill, effort, or intent. We question premises, assumptions, and strategies.

We lock in the things that must be and leave everything else loose until we can figure out how it can get done.

We focus on behaviors, not outcomes. We can only control what we do, and can’t control anything else.

We know some things aren’t for sale. Like honor, integrity, and character.

We make decisions based on what’s right, not what’s expedient.

We know we only have this moment to make a difference.

We believe that homes aren’t just bricks and sticks, but also the lives of the people who dwell within.

We believe intensity brings clarity, and clarity is the answer to anxiety.

We believe that as long as we have breath, we have hope. Not that our circumstances will change, but that we will have the courage to change ourselves.

We’re NOT For Everyone

Odds are pretty good that IF you DON’T believe these things are true, we are NOT a good fit for you. Stick with the current system that’s been around since 1995…

IF you DO believe these things are true, fill out this form so we can get in touch and explore how we can help you.

After Working With Us

After working with the Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co., verification organizations experience:

  • reduced costs & better cost management
  • adaptability to changing or emerging market conditions
  • increased customer loyalty & retention
  • higher employee engagement
  • higher productivity
  • elimination of defects and waste
  • strengthened competitive advantage
  • improved customer focus & satisfaction
  • improved employee focus & satisfaction
  • enhanced shareholder & stakeholder value
  • improved employee morale
  • improved & innovative processes
  • higher profitability

Along the way, we deliver reduced risk, which provides you peace of mind. You help your builder clients maintain their integrity, and we help you keep yours.

The Benefits of Our Quality Management System

Our Quality Management System provides:

  • Greater consistency in training
  • Dramatic reduction in inadvertent operator errors
  • Greater confidence that homes earned their certification
  • More transparency through the entire system
  • Greater consistency in ERI outputs
  • More collaboration on Quality Management with stakeholders

IF you do NOT want that experience and benefits, STOP wasting your time and ours. Don’t even bother reading any more. You are NOT a good fit for us and we are NOT interested in working with you. Energy rating companies like yours already have a home, and you’re welcome to stay in it.

IF you want what our clients experience and the benefits of our Quality Management System, fill out this form so we can discuss how you can move forward.

What We’ve Done to Make This Happen

We eliminated the concept of Providers. That archaic system has baked into it the inconsistencies that everyone complains about, inconsistencies that CANNOT be solved with more rules and iron-fisted controls.

So we went straight to the source of the problem and eliminated it.

All certification training is provided by the Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co. through our Building Science Education platform. While that took care of the inconsistent training problems…

We eliminated the entire concept of Providers. No longer does a rating company need to submit their files to another outfit for review, which then get handed off to the self-appointed “regulatory body” for yet another round of review.

We cut out the middle man.

This provides consistency in the application of our Quality Management System. Everyone is subject to the same set of policies, processes, and procedures which are spelled out in…

Our contracts. 

Our contracts clearly spell out what we are obligated to do, what you are obligated to do, and what we are jointly obligated to do. You give us the authority to help you build a better business when you sign the contract, which only takes place after we’ve had a meeting of the minds and agreed to a proposal.

No references to policies which may change without your knowledge.

No secret tribunals or kangaroo courts…if there’s a dispute, our contracts call for arbitration following the nationally accepted rules for arbitration. After all, that’s what professionals do.

We leverage HouseRater™ technology to integrate software analysis and field inspections in one app to reduce the number of mistakes made by the operators.

With built-in reminders of what they are supposed to do, and built-in signals to the Quality Management team when they don’t do what they’re supposed to, the technology allows the Quality Management team to target their efforts to improve the process where they are needed.

By the way, this eliminates up to 60% of the time currently wasted on high-effort, low-return activities that are baked into other systems.

When a home gets certified in our Quality Management System, it has had well over 300 data validation checks made behind the scenes, with coordinated efforts between the operators and Quality Management team to ensure the data collected in the field is well-documented and remains unchanged through the process.

But that’s not all…

We have the guts to pick a winner.

HouseRater isn’t just our inspection tool. It collects field data and data entered based on plans and specifications and pushes it through to NREL’s EnergyPlus-based calculation engine to produce the unadulterated Energy Rating Index.

An ERI calculated on the actual equations found in Standard 301…

An ERI that is trustworthy…

With a calculation engine that meets the tighter acceptance criteria of ASHRAE Std 140…something other folks talk about, but just can’t seem to get done.

We deliver consistent ERIs that create a level playing field. 

Consistency that leads to stability.

And shorter times between final inspections and certifications.

So builders get what they need faster.

Our single platform for energy modeling, inspections, certifications, and quality control lets technology make your work better and your life easier.

With complete transparency through the entire system.

In real time.

Code officials can see, if they want to, what supports the verified performance documented by code compliance reports.

Even the trade contractors can upload their documents into your project through HouseRater so you don’t have to wonder if their work is ready or not…you get to see it, and can verify for your client they got what they paid for. 

This kind of transparency has never existed before…

Transparency that builds trust.

No longer do rating companies have to invest in building and maintaining their own tools (another source of inconsistency) to capture data…

Wasting a ton of money…

And time…

Our technology provides the flexibility you need for your optimized workflows, and the structure needed to ensure the integrity of the industry.

Now you get to compete on the one sustainable, strategic competitive advantage you have: your people.

They are the only real source of distinction and differentiation in your market.

“The only real difference between one organization and another is the performance of its people.”

Peter Drucker

And because we work collaboratively with our clients to improve their businesses, and with stakeholders to improve the process, we provide you actionable insights into your business to help you build a better one.

That is, after all, the whole point of professional Quality Management. 

IF you DON’T like what we do, you are definitely NOT a fit for us. For the love of all that is good and decent in the world, stop torturing yourself and stay where you are.

IF you DO like what we offer, fill out this form so we can discuss how to move your organization forward.

The Future

By the way, we won’t stop here to rest on our laurels. A wise man once said, “If you rest on your laurels, you’ll get thorns in your ass.”

We go beyond this business model innovation in ERI Quality Management.

In our product pipeline, we have disruptive innovations scheduled.

Innovative products that will generate more business through new clients.

Instead of fighting over the same small pile of crumbs under the table, you’ll feast off the main course at the table.

We know the real value of energy efficient construction lies in the process of actually building energy efficient homes that are independently verified, NOT in the distracting pursuit of a lower number that has zero correlation with the energy consumption of the home.

Instead of looking to the past, we build for the future.

Because that’s what professionals do.

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”

W. Edwards Deming

IF you are NOT interested in building a more profitable business in the future, we are like chalk and cheese. Don’t waste any more of your most precious resource, your time, on this.

IF this interests you, we’d like to have further conversation. All you have to do is fill out this form…

The Professional Difference

Our policies, processes, and procedures are taken from international Quality Management standards, not something cobbled together by amateurs.

This Quality Management System is overseen by a select group of industry professionals, our Quality Council. The Quality Council has the independence to report to our stakeholders if we don’t fulfill our obligations, and final approval authority over those documents.

Documents we embedded into our contracts to ensure you get the best we have to offer.

Contracts that require us to act with integrity, fairness, due professional care, confidentiality, independence, and take an evidence- and risk-based approach.

Easy for us to do, because that’s what we believe.

We also believe that people are at the center of every business.

They must be accountable and responsible for the work they do.

They must have the means to carry out their work in a professional manner.

They must know what they are supposed to do and when they are supposed to do it.

They must know whether what they are doing is what they’re supposed to be doing.

They must be able to change what they are doing IF it doesn’t conform with what they are supposed to do.

Professional quality management is about preventing mistakes from being made, not about finding them out when it’s too late to take meaningful action. That’s what amateurs do…

“Inspection with the aim of finding the bad ones and throwing them out is too late, ineffective, and costly. Quality comes not from inspection but from improvement of the process.”

W. Edwards Deming

Professional quality management improves the process and system.

We help our clients become better, not make them bitter.

IF this resonates with you, and your organization does code compliance work or energy ratings, fill out the form below so we can discuss how we can help you build a better business

When You Work With Us

Above all else, you are treated with respect and fairness.

You also get lower operating costs & better cost management, the ability to adapt to changing or emerging market conditions, increased customer loyalty & retention, higher employee engagement, higher productivity, elimination of defects and waste, strengthened competitive advantage, improved customer & employee focus & satisfaction, enhanced shareholder & stakeholder value, improved employee morale, improved & innovative processes, higher profitability, and reduced risk.

These outcomes are the result of greater consistency in training, the reduction in inadvertent operator errors, greater consistency in ERI outputs, our collaborative approach to professional Quality Management with stakeholders, and more transparency through the entire system. 

This gives you the confidence you need that homes earned their certification, confidence needed as more government agencies and publicly-traded builders rely on your work to meet their Environmental, Social, and Governance goals.

The confidence you get when you work with professionals.

The confidence you get when you work with the Building Science Institute, Ltd. Co., the professional quality management organization for the energy rating industry.

IF you are NOT interested in this, don’t even bother applying to work with us. We won’t get along and no amount of money is worth that kind of misery.

IF this IS something you want, and your organization does code compliance work or energy ratings, fill out the form below so we can discuss how we can help you build a better business.