Posted by: lcowie | November 16, 2010

Introduction to BPI Energy Auditing

Some people enroll in a BPI Building Analyst training course not knowing entirely what they are getting themselves into. They just know that the federal government is working on legislation that will appropriate billions of money toward the energy auditing industry. Yes, jump aboard that train! But also understand what a BPI Building Analyst is.

There are three overarching steps to energy auditing. First, the certified BPI Building Analyst will conduct a “test-in” evaluation. This person may or may not have experience in the building industry but after taking a BPI training course, will be proficient and knowledgeable. The class will require two days of classroom instruction, one or two days of field training, and then testing (both a written exam and a field exam). The certified Building Analyst will be able to inspect the interior and exterior parts of the house, to diagnose possible problem areas. This person will know how to work a blower door and a manometer, to determine possible gaps and leaks under 50 Pascals of pressure. Lastly, the Building Analyst will conduct six combustion tests to make sure that carbon monoxide is not making a devastating presence inside the home. This is all the Building Analyst does. He or she inspects, evaluates and conducts initial diagnosis testing. From here, the Building Analyst will make a list of recommendations for the homeowner. The homeowner may then hire a BPI accredited contractor to actually fix the problems within the home.

Two things to note here: If you work in, say, the HVAC industry and are also a certified BPI Building Analyst, you need to be aware of conflict of interest. If the homeowner has a problem with a heating or cooling device, you will be experienced in fixing these kinds of problems. As the Building Analyst for this home, you need to tell the homeowner what your primary occupation is and let them know that you encourage them to find a contractor to do the work. If you have developed a good repertoire with the homeowner, he or she may want you to do the retrofit work. This is ok (and good for your business), so long as the homeowner is aware of the potential conflict of interest.

Other note: To be a BPI accredited contractor, one must be a Building Analyst and hold at least one other BPI designation (i.e. Envelope Professional).

The next step in the process is to hire a BPI accredited contractor to complete the retrofit work. This person will personally fix all the insulation gaps and other problems that the Building Analyst has diagnosed.

The last step in the process is the “test-out,” which is generally conducted by a certified BPI Envelope Professional. This person will conduct the same tests as the original Building Analyst – interior and exterior inspections, blower door test, and the six combustion appliance tests. The purpose of the test-out step is for the Envelope Professional to ensure that all the diagnosed problems have been corrected and that no problems have been created as a result. The combustion appliance tests are especially important here. BPI’s “house-as-a-system” approach essentially warrants that a contractor should “do no harm.” The Envelope Professional will double-check the contractor’s work and make sure that no problems have been created in the process.

Energy auditing is a great industry to get into. This is where all the jobs are now and where all the money is. If you can take a BPI training course, I highly recommend it. Take advantage of government stimulus funds while you can. The government has huge plans to retrofit and weatherize homes throughout the country. By attaining this credential, you will bring yourself work for years to come. Just be aware of what you are getting yourself into! Any questions?

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