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RESNET, BPI and Home Star—Important Organizations and Programs for Energy Efficiency

Most thermographers who inspect buildings know RESNET (Residential Energy Service Network), a 15-year old organization, as the “owner” of a program called Energy Star™. By helping homeowners rate the energy performance of new homes and linking that to financing options, RESNET has played a key role in ensuring that new homes use less energy than in the past. You can find out more about them at http://www.resnet.us/.

Given the dramatic changes in the housing market over the past two years, RESNET is moving towards bringing similar efforts to existing homes through a new initiative called Home Star. In the United States alone, there are 110 million existing homes that would, if properly retrofitted, see a significant reduction in energy use. Since more than 40% of our energy use in the United States is tied to conditioning and occupying our buildings, the potential impact is immense. Whether we consider the export of energy dollars, energy security issues or global warming due to increases in CO2 that stem from using excessive energy, RESNET’s efforts make a great deal of sense.

The new RESNET standard specifically calls for the use of a blower door in conjunction with thermography as a means of more accurately locating air leakage.

Recently, a group of us created a new infrared inspection standard for RESNET along with a means to certify people to conduct those inspections. While the documents themselves have been officially adopted, the mechanisms for certifying people are not quite complete. I’m hopeful that in Q1-11, the first thermographers can jump over that “hurdle” and gain their RESNET thermography certification. We’ll touch more on this in upcoming weeks, but for now, it is clear that having certified thermographers following a viable guideline is a critical part of ensuring that work done on existing buildings will truly make a difference.

Unfortunately, Home Star, approved by the House of Representatives last summer, is currently stalled in the Senate. No doubt the logjam will break up, one way or another, after the results of the November election become more clear. You can learn more about the program from a recent NPR radio interview by clicking here.

The intent of Home Star is to increase energy efficiency by providing $6 billion directly to homeowners and contractors to get work done properly. The proposed two-tier program is designed so that under SilverStar, any contractor can provide covered prescriptive measures with an incentive of a 50% benefit (up to $3000). The GoldStar path is based on a 20% or greater improvement in home performance using recommendations from a RESNET audit. These measures, with benefits up to $8000, must be installed by a contractor accredited by the Building Performance Institute (BPI), another important organization in the home efficiency realm.

Both new and existing homes are subject to problems with installation of weatherization materials, but the problem is exacerbated when the insulation is installed in an existing cavity and thermography is not used. One thermal image of this wall beforehand and another after would have saved everyone a great deal of time, effort and money!

At this time, the use of thermography is encouraged but not required. The Snell Group and Fluke have teamed up to work closely with both RESNET and BPI to ensure that the technology is used extensively and appropriately. If you are a contractor or building professional, I encourage you to explore working more closely with both of these organizations, as it certainly appears they will continue to lead the push for greater efficiencies in residential and commercial building sectors.

There are two presentations at the RESNET conference in 2011 (February 27-March 2, 2011 in Lake Buena Vista, FL) related to this blog. My colleague, Matt Schwoegler and I will deliver a pre-conference seminar on how to use thermography year-round—a session we guarantee will open your thought process up to new ideas! I’ll also be presenting an update on the RESNET standard and certification process during the conference itself. For details see: http://www1.resnet.us/conference/default.htm

Next week, we’ll turn our thoughts to Thinking Thermally while cooking that turkey!

Thinking Thermally,

John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

1 comment to RESNET, BPI and Home Star—Important Organizations and Programs for Energy Efficiency

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