How InterNACHI Can Provide the Direct Link
between Homeowners and the U.S. DOE’s
“Recovery Through Retrofit” Program
A white paper on private-sector solutions for implementing
the “Recovery Through Retrofit” Program
What is "Recovery Through Retrofit"?
In 2009, Vice President Joe Biden announced a series of initiatives described in the Recovery Through Retrofit Report, which are designed to lay the groundwork for a self-sustaining industry to retrofit homes for energy efficiency. They include a new national Home Energy Score Program that will help homeowners make cost-effective decisions about home energy improvements.
“The initiatives announced today are putting the Recovery Through Retrofit Report’s recommendations into action – giving American families the tools they need to invest in home energy upgrades,” said the vice president. 1 “Together, these programs will grow the home-retrofit industry and help middle-class families save money and energy.” 2
InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, is the world’s largest organization of residential and commercial property inspectors who perform more than 10,000 property inspections every day. As a federally tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) non-profit, InterNACHI provides professional training, accredited education and certification. InterNACHI’s training and Continuing Education courses have been awarded more than 800 government approvals and accreditations. 3
InterNACHI-Certified Professional Inspectors® are committed to providing consistent, accessible and trusted information to their clients about their properties’ condition and energy efficiency. InterNACHI’s broad mission is to educate homeowners by helping them understand the functions, materials, systems, components and proper maintenance of their properties. 4
BARRIERS TO IMPLEMENTATION
Three Key Barriers Identified
The Recovery Through Retrofit Report identified three key barriers that have prevented the cohesive formation of a self-sustaining retrofit market, despite the obvious and well-documented economic and environmental benefits of improving home energy efficiency.
These combined barriers serve to block the consumer-homeowner’s access to the vital resources that comprise the Recovery Through Retrofit Program. It is by addressing these barriers that InterNACHI can serve as the direct conduit between the resources that are key to the success of Recovery Through Retrofit and the homeowners who need them.
Solutions to Barrier #1: Access to Skilled Workers
The Recovery Through Retrofit Report identified the fact that there are not enough skilled workers and green entrepreneurs to expand weatherization and efficiency-retrofit programs on a national scale. The report calls for a uniform set of national guidelines for training home energy retrofit professionals.
InterNACHI is developing inspection report narratives based on the DOE Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals. The narratives are designed to be used in standard inspection reports to advise clients on how to find and hire home performance contractors with the appropriate credentials so that work is completed properly and generates the expected energy savings.
InterNACHI offers and is continuing to develop additional online educational and training courses for home energy professionals. As an EPA-approved training provider, InterNACHI currently offers the EPA-approved Lead Safety for Renovation, Repair and Painting course online at www.nachi.org/lead-safety-rrp-course.
InterNACHI is developing a series of new online courses for home energy professionals who want to enter the home energy-retrofit market. This set of courses will provide building science education and training to contractors in the energy inspection industry. The first course in this training series, The House as a System, is available free online at www.nachi.org/house-as-a-system.
Solutions to Barrier #2: Access to Financing
The Recovery Through Retrofit Report identified homeowners’ high upfront costs for retrofits. InterNACHI already educates homeowners about the value of energy efficiency, and, in terms of Recovery Through Retrofit, can help persuade them of the value of energy upgrades so that their expectations and perceptions align with the rationale of a long-term return on investment.
To demonstrate its initiative and commitment, InterNACHI is participating in and has hosted meetings with collaborative groups, both locally and nationally, made up of gas and electric utility representatives and other stakeholders. We are working to leverage the home inspection industry in contractor development and consumer outreach and education that includes energy-upgrade rebates that are administered by participating utilities.
Solutions to Barrier #3: Access to Information
The Recovery Through Retrofit Report identified the typical homeowner’s lack of access to information as the key barrier to a strong nationwide market for home energy upgrades.
However, in November 2010, U.S. Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu said, “The Home Energy Score will help make energy efficiency easy and accessible to America’s families by providing them with straightforward and reliable information about their homes’ energy performance and specific, cost-effective, energy-efficiency improvements that will save them money on their monthly energy bills.” 5
In order to calculate a Home Energy Score, a qualified assessor must conduct a brief walk-through of the home and collect about 45 data points. The assessor then uses the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Home Energy Scoring Tool to estimate a home’s energy use, convert that data into a score, and develop recommendations for energy improvements. 6
On March 16, 2011, Secretary Chu announced, “The Department of Energy is working to develop a strong home retrofit industry. We are creating a state-of-the-art tool that home inspectors can use on a handheld device to assess energy-savings potential and identify the most effective investments to drive down energy costs.” 7
The most critical time to educate homeowners is during a home inspection.
InterNACHI received a full license to develop its own residential energy calculator, called the Energy Savings Report (ESR), which can be viewed online at www.nachi.org/hes. InterNACHI’s Energy Savings Report Tool runs on the engine that drives the DOE's Home Energy Saver (HES) tool (hespro.lbl.gov/pro), the web-based residential energy calculator developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This is not the Home Energy Score; it's InterNACHI's own energy calculator.
InterNACHI's ESR Training and Certification Program qualifies individuals to perform non-diagnostic “clipboard” energy inspections, such as the Home Energy Score. InterNACHI and its trained and certified home inspectors will use the software tool to generate:
Making U.S. Buildings More Energy-Efficient
To build a clean energy future, we need to make our homes and buildings more energy-efficient to save energy and save consumers money. The greatest potential for saving energy is making buildings more efficient.
Doing so will accomplish three goals that are both short-term and long-term, including:
The U.S. economy and the environment are linked to the buildings we inspect and the energy they use. The U.S. consumes more energy than anyone else on the planet – about 20% of the total global demand.
The nation's 114 million households and more than 74 million square feet of commercial floor space account for:
“Improving building energy efficiency on a large scale is a challenge we can't afford not to take,” said Secretary Chu. “It will create jobs, reduce energy waste, save our businesses and institutions money, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.” 8
For many years, the energy audit industry has been providing consumers with information about home performance. That trend has shifted. 9 Five things have affected the energy audit industry, and none of them has to do with energy. They all concern money:
“The level of due diligence should be set where the cost, in time and money, of acquiring information about the subject property will not likely exceed the value of that information.” 10The upfront costs of a comprehensive energy audit often outweigh the value of the information it provides.
A recent study shows that the industry is moving away from a strict energy-audit approach and toward a more market-driven philosophy. The importance of engaging and educating the public in energy efficiency has never been greater. 11 To target and motivate homeowners on a national scale, a new educator is needed, and InterNACHI is already fulfilling that role.
By doing what they do best – educating homeowners – InterNACHI home inspectors can knock down Barrier #3 by providing consumers with access to information on a large scale. Educating homeowners is the most cost-effective measure in motivating them to take action in saving home energy. The new educators – InterNACHI-Certified Professional Inspectors® – are the trusted, third-party professionals capable of engaging and motivating homeowners.
From Clipboard Audits to Home Energy Improvements
Home inspectors are the right messengers. Thousands of times a day, all across the nation, they are sitting at the breakfast table with homeowners and their real estate agents. And the conversation over coffee is as much about energy as it is about the home’s condition and safety issues.
Home inspectors can influence the decisions of homeowners and motivate them to take action. InterNACHI’s Home Inspector Code of Ethics (https://www.nachi.org/code_of_ethics.htm) eliminates all conflicts of interest, which home-performance contractors suffer from.12 Every year, millions of homeowners use the recommendations provided by their home inspectors to perform home improvements, including energy upgrades.
Home inspectors are:
"There's no reason there shouldn't be at least 100 million energy-efficient homes in the U.S.,” said Vice President Biden. 13
To meet that goal, organizations with a vested interest in energy-efficiency improvements should:
InterNACHI is already performing the following functions and can work in tandem with the DOE to promote its goals for Recovery Through Retrofit. InterNACHI:
Ben Gromicko, Director of Education for InterNACHI: email@example.com