How to spend millions on a dubious DOE program


The problem with BPI getting all this money from DOE to create standards and certification programs for a national energy efficiency and weatherization program is that they don’t have the knowledge and capacity to do that.

Has it really been almost a year since the last time that I wrote about the Building Performance Institute? That was in my As I See It blog post from last August, “D.C. energy efficiency world gets murkier” ( I hate to tell you, the BPI/Department of Energy/weatherization program debacle has not gotten any better. Allow me to refresh your memory.

The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have picked a certifying body to test and certify workers for the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and home energy upgrade industry.

It is not an organization that should have won the contract. Instead, DOE and NREL picked the Building Performance Institute, Malta, N.Y., a group whose expertise seems to revolve around winning federal contracts.

DOE and NREL made this award despite the call by an industry coalition of 22 organizations to start the selection process over in a transparent manner.

There’s no doubt this program will be huge. Thousands of workers will be trained and certified to perform what may turn out to be billions of dollars in work. If workers are going to be trained to perform gas fitting or change out plumbing fixtures, it might be a nice idea to ask the people who know how to do it.

Pretty much everybody in the industry opposes this — PHCC-NA, ACCA, IAPMO, ICC, RSES. In a startling moment of clarity, even the homebuilders were on our side on this one.

The problem with BPI getting all this money from DOE to create standards and certification programs for a national energy efficiency and weatherization program is that they don’t have the knowledge and capacity to do that. They’re a bunch of people who come from that whole Eastern Corridor energy conservation milieu. It’s as if they said, “Hey, kids, let’s put on an energy efficiency program,” and just like the kids in the neighborhood, they invited all of their friends. The problem is that all of their friends are academics or guys from the national labs, not anybody who knows how to turn a wrench. If the toilet’s not flushing, do you want a plumber or a college professor?

On its website BPI lists the following as “standards:”

·      Air Conditioning & Heat Pump Professional

·      BPI-104: Envelope Professional

·      BPI-2400-S Standard Qualification of Whole House Energy Savings Estimates

·      Building Analyst professional

·      Heating Professional

·      Manufactured Housing Professional

·      Multifamily Building Analyst Professional

·      Multifamily Energy Efficient Building Operator

·      Multifamily Hydronic Heating Professional

In the U.S. there are industry-developed ANSI-certified national consensus standards. ASHRAE 90.1 is a perfect example. Then there are “standards” developed by individual companies or groups to serve their membership’s needs. One way to do that is to have a pre-written “standard” that’s reviewed by a rubberstamp committee that avoids that whole, messy consensus process with public reviews and revisions and votes and more revisions that typically takes two years to move through the process. BPI’s approach is to jump in, make a claim, and sell the heck out of it until it is (they hope) an accepted fact and a household name. This approach is fast and easy and does not require much thought or industry input. Unfortunately, it is also likely to result in meaningless standards fraught with errors and another embarrassingly inept program. 

It has long been the opinion of many within the HVAC industry that BPI “standards” related to HVAC industry did not adequately address the rigorous approaches necessary to assure that equipment was designed and installed properly. Many within the energy auditing industry feel that the BPI energy auditing related standards ignored mainstream guidelines and standards. Many in the insulation industry have felt that the BPI standards have given short shrift to windows, doors and insulation requirements. 

Now BPI is attempting to develop ANSI-recognized standards. In 2010 BPI announced: Malta, NY, July 13, 2010 The Building Performance Institute Inc. (BPI), a nationally recognized standards development and contractor credentialing organization is pleased to announce that it received approval today from the American National Standards Institute Inc. (ANSI) as an accredited developer of American National Standards.”

That’s good, right? This was seen by many as a step in the right direction and good for the related industries in which BPI is offering training and certification based on its “standards.” Except it didn’t work. BPI’s first attempt to have its flagship “standard” BPI-1100-T-2010 (formerly BPI-101): Home Energy Auditing Standard recognized as an ANSI standard apparently died in 2011. The public comment period ended on March 14, 2011, and BPI-1100-T-2010 must have been sucked into a black hole in Malta, N.Y., because it has vanished never to be seen again.

But, hey, they have ANSI status, so it was time to double down.

Encouraged by the success of proclaiming ANSI status without any ANSI-approved standards, BPI began announcing the development of other ANSI standards. These include:

·      BPI-2400-S-2011 Standardized Qualification of Whole House Energy Savings

·      BPI-102 Standard for Air Resistance of Thermal Insulation Used in Retrofit Cavity Applications - Material Specification

·      BPI-103 Standard Test Method for Thermal Insulation Materials Used in Air Retarder Applications

Other BPI “standards” are in the pipeline being developed by BPI committees:

·      Standard for Quality Inspections

·      Standard for Air Distribution Systems Energy Performance Applications

·      Standard for Envelope Insulation Applications

·      Standard for Envelope Air Leakage Control Applications

·      Standard for Home Performance-related Data Collection, Transfer and Qualification of Whole House Savings Estimates

·      Standard for BPI Building Analyst

·      Standard for Basic Building Analysis

BPI seems determined to continue ignoring the need for industry consensus or input when it comes to standards development. Worse yet, BPI appears to be comfortable in ignoring preexisting, competing, and conflicting related industry recognized standards developed through recognized standards process by groups such as ACCA; ASHRAE; ASTM International; National Fire Protection Association; Residential Energy Services Network (mortgage industry recognized), and SMACNA.

Then BPI issued a press release at the beginning of this year talking about how they’re going to have to raise their prices because they’re hot stuff:

“The Building Performance Institutehas established itself as the leading standards provider for the building industry. Consumers, industry, institutions all look to BPI standards to verify the legitimacy of building practices.”

That’s pretty funny. You have to hand it to them for having a sense of humor. The leading standards provider for the building industry? Really? Somebody phone ICC.

Then they try to bolster their legitimacy by sidling up to ANSI.

“The American National Standards Institute Inc. also develops standards called American National Standards. Coming from an accredited institute, ANSI’s vote of confidence in BPI increases the legitimacy of BPI’s building performance standards. ANSI’s accreditation of BPI also goes to show that BPI has built a trusted reputation among stakeholders in the building industry, whose members trust BPI to set the bar high for building performance. Now that BPI’s building standards have received ANSI accreditation, its standard development program is a more trusted measure of energy-efficiency and overall performance in buildings.”

That’s quite the imprimatur. Dominus vobiscum. And may perpetual light shine upon you. Since they’re so great, they have to raise their prices.

“While ANSI accreditation lends greater integrity to BPI’s process of defining building performance standards, it will also most likely up the cost of BPI certification for building professionals. If you have not yet registered for a BPI certification course, then please do so immediately before BPI courses become more expensive in 2012. BPI will announce a series of changes pertaining to its ANSI accreditation that go into effect as of February 2012. These include changes to the BPI certification process, including potential price increases for BPI courses that prepare students to take the BPI exam.”

As long as we’re on the subject of certification, check out this one.

On April 19, BPI issued a press release with the headline, “Criminal background check removed from pilot certification prerequisite criteria; criminal background check remains employer responsibility.  

“MALTA, N.Y. — Responding to industry feedback regarding criminal background check requirements for four new Home Energy Professional certifications to be piloted this June, the Building Performance Institute Inc. (BPI) today removed these requirements from prerequisite criteria.”

According to BPI, they received comments from contractors who said they didn’t want to feel constrained by the criminal background check requirement. Ostensibly, the rationale is to let rehabilitated non-violent offenders get work. That’s a worthy goal but it may not be such a great idea to let them into Aunt Tilly’s house.

Here’s another weird story about certification that came from CONTRACTOR’s own Carol Fey. Now keep in mind that Carol Fey has spent her life in this industry. An author of multiple training books, such as Quick & Basic Hydronic Controls and Quick & Basic Electricity, she used to be a trainer for Honeywell. She goes to Antarctica and tears down and rebuilds their furnaces and boilers. Let me tell you, Carol Fey has got it goin’ on. But she barely passed the BPI certification test.

“The class I attended was mostly about the building envelope — insulation, sealing, and using a blower door to test for tightness,” Carol told me. “There was very little in the class about HVAC … Our on-site, hands-on instruction was only a half day. The rest of the week was classroom lecture. This isn't a good way to teach hands-on skills to on-site workers.”

Carol, by the way, knows this well from her own training classes. Hand a service tech a gas valve and he starts rolling it around in his hands because techs are visual and tactile.

“As for HVAC, the on-site instruction was in a hydronics house,” Carol continued. “The hands-on test was in a forced-air house. That's teaching about apples and testing about oranges.

“They required buying three sizeable books. It's easy for me to do that kind of reading, but impossible for many of the hands-on guys in the class.

“I barely passed the test, even though I fully participated every day and read all of the books. Many of the test questions were on material I had never heard of. The test included some puzzling questions such as what is the formula for the area of a circle. That was a ‘gimme’ for me, but neither the formula nor any application for it were covered in class. One instructor said that the purpose is to fail people to keep the industry pure, or to make people pay to take it all again. One man was in tears during the test.”

My vote is that the purpose is to get people to pay to take it all over again.

Carol said she attended a local industry meeting where one of the leaders said that he suspects that the reason that BPI certification is required is to make it easier for big contractors to get utility-driven work. For a one-man shop to get certified, he has to shut his business down for a week to go to school. A big company just keeps someone on staff who is certified — the on-site workers don't have to be, it was claimed. This may not be accurate, Carol noted, but something about it rings true.

Take note of that point about utility programs. The more conspiratorially minded people in Washington tell me that the grand plan is to require all who work in the public sector or for utility sponsored programs to become BPI certified members. Fey reports that last year she worked with an organization that was formed specifically to require the utility to use some of the millions set aside for energy conservation. The programs they came up were confusing and hard to use.

Then again, pairing “grand plan” and “Washington” seems oxymoronic. There is, however, a ton of money being thrown at these programs.

It seems there is an almost unlimited DOE budget for developing and administering “energy efficiency programs” and, unfortunately, up until this time they all only seem to recognize BPI as the final solution to all of the nation’s energy woes. In fact, DOE is up to its neck in developing requirements and testing materials for BPI. The following DOE sponsored agencies/subcontractors are developing the actual “certification” tests and the related questions along with the work specifications based on the “BPI standards” so they can be handed over to BPI to administer.

The National Renewable Energy Lab (DOE funding $97.7 million,

is working on Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades and Specifications for Single, Multifamily and Manufactured Housing. AEA Technology PLC (DOE funding up to $45.7 million, is working on Workforce Specifications for Home Energy Upgrades, Multifamily Housing and Workforce Specifications for Home Energy Upgrades Manufactured Housing.

Why not require a meaningless certification for unrecognized standards? It seems like DOE’s new program will save mid-level management government contractor jobs and assures that a new and improved “energy saving training” program will need to be developed down the road.

BPI has no certified contractors in Alaska, Hawaii or 24 additional states. The two states where it is mandated that you have to pay BPI to work on state or utility sponsored programs amazingly enough have hundreds of BPI-certified contractors.  In fact, after New York with 393 and New Jersey with 129, the state with the most BPI-certified contractors is California with 15. How can 15 contractors serve a state the size of California?

Of the 615 BPI-certified contractors listed on their website as of February 6, 2012, over 84% are in New York and New Jersey. In fact, if you remove the states with five or fewer BPI-certified contractors from the BPI listings, only seven of the 50 states remain. Surely if BPI had developed a successful national program, they would have certified contractors distributed a little more evenly across the nation.

Real certifications based on real standards and real training take time to develop. Further, they demand a continuous, committed effort to master and maintain the skills and company infrastructures necessary to make them worthwhile. Can DOE be awakened and see the folly in the latest plan?

You might want to ask your own local Congressman or Senator how long they will allow DOE to continue flushing money down the BPI drain by falsely advertising an expensive, localized program as a national energy savings plan. DOE may not care how the term “national program” is defined, but the rest of us should.

Follow me on Twitter @bobmader

Discuss this Blog Entry 109

Dave Yates (not verified)
on Jun 4, 2012

Outstanding article Bob! I've looked at BPI training, but don't see a good cost/benefit ratio.

on Jan 8, 2014

Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! plus ones followers

on Jul 18, 2014

There is certainly noticeably a lot of money to uncover about this. I suppose persons made sure good products within attributes moreover.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 4, 2012

The worst part is there is confusion between BPI developing standards and BPI becomeing an ANSI accredited certification body. Happy to discuss when you have a free moment.

on Jun 5, 2012

In addition to the BPI standards, several utilities are marching out their own standards regarding HVAC installation and tune ups. How these "new" standards reconcile against BPI, NATE and others that currently exist is unknown. Also the degree to which these "utility" standards are similar between neighboring utilities is another unknown.

If utilities are looking at capturing the full benefit of energy efficiency for their own shareholders, than having robust participation of fully capable HVAC contractors is an absolute must. Requiring multiple certifications that have no meaning in the market and don't convey confidence to homeowners doesn't help to promote purchases or get contractors to sign up.

on Sep 20, 2014

Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Each & every tips of your post are awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging,

on Sep 22, 2014

I think that thanks for the valuabe information and insights you have so provided here.
h miracle ebook pdf

on Sep 23, 2014

i am for the first time here. I found this board and I in finding It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to present something back and help others such as you helped me.
Follow this link to spy whatsapp contact

on Oct 21, 2014

The answers are very specific, assisting you understand your strong points, how you may be recognized by others, and most significantly displaying you places that you should tap into to be successful. what is sms

on Sep 23, 2014

I read your blog frequently and I just thought I’d say keep up the amazing work!
Get spy your victim WhatsApp number account

on Sep 26, 2014

An fascinating discussion is value comment. I think that it is best to write extra on this matter, it won’t be a taboo topic however generally people are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers
garcinia cambogia extract where to buy

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 4, 2012

I still keep up my 3 BPI certifications but am no longer an Accredited contractor. The whole purpose was to have quality control/ assurance on jobs but utilities have their own QA/QC. I became a litttle jaded when those providing these services never had any practical experience except for their jobs at BPI. Look at all of the new certifications BPI has come out with this year. I feel it has become a money making scheme for those with friends in DOE.

on Aug 1, 2014

It can be true, it is tough for that doing work mothers nowadays but I'm glad we are in this article. A lot of ladies usually are first class frontrunners nowadays, they have got any expression to mention on what the world must be. venus factor

on Aug 22, 2014

I have to admit, I think my Innermetrix ADVanced Insights Profile results are right on target. I also gave my results to a couple of friends to see what they thought of the results, and we agree that this. brazilian acrobats 2014

on Aug 27, 2014

Lots of writing did get done. I’d wake up in the morning and head over to the Kalilarga, Zadar’s main thoroughfare. I’d sit in a café and write fiction that had nothing to do with the project I was writing at the time. Free PDF Ebooks

on Aug 26, 2014

I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site. No Win No Fee Claims

on Aug 29, 2014

The awesome reveals that offer a actual value to the market continuous to be effective and some have now surpassed their pre-recession levels.

on Sep 21, 2014

I have read your blog it is very helpful for me. I want to say thanks to you. I have bookmark your site for future updates.
magnetic messaging crack

on Sep 26, 2014

Very good points you wrote here..Great stuff...I think you've made some truly interesting points.Keep up the good work.
hier ist was ich gefunden

on Sep 26, 2014

Thanks for another wonderful post. Where else could anybody get that type of info in such an ideal way of writing?
where can i buy pure garcinia cambogia

on Oct 7, 2014

Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all of us you actually realize what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Please also seek advice from my site =). We could have a hyperlink change contract between us!

on Oct 8, 2014

You make so many great points here that I read your article a couple of times. Your views are in accordance with my own for the most part. This is great content for your readers.

on Oct 16, 2014

i am always looking for some free stuffs over the internet. there are also some companies which gives free samples.

Jim (not verified)
on Jun 10, 2012

Definitely food for thought

on Nov 26, 2013

that is a fact and we can not change the situation!

on Aug 4, 2014

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also - festa doki

on Sep 1, 2014

The Buddhist way to all of this is quite genuine, really. Buddhism understands of that from the perspective of ego the opportunities of lack of way of life is generally difficult. old school new body workout reviews

on Oct 1, 2014

I had been working on! It also shuts the feeding ports when they put enough weight on the ring. It turned out much more practical than I thought! Aside from just letting him chew on the links, I also used a chain of them to hook up toys to the stroller bars, so he could freely play with them but they won't drop to the floor. Just remember to buy spare filters, light bulbs and the powercable. the venus factor download

on Oct 11, 2014

Remain at the innovative of new technological innovation – create sure you have academic classes and participants presenting believes like geothermal energy, biomass heat energy, etc. Stop House Repossession

on Oct 15, 2014

I would pay to lease it. The figures will tell you whether you are investing too much on certain information. Another company idea that can be used to create intelligent buys is professional advisory categories. The team includes generally eight to 12 non-competing farm owners who are good at what they do, designed for the objective of discussing their abilities. why not try here

on Oct 17, 2014

During the experience, not one, but two service technicians came out to the condo to get us out of the mess we were in. Both technicians were polite, courteous, and very young — they were both only 22-years-old. important link

on Oct 18, 2014

He serves as an example to others to take a risk and test new technologies. If the technology works, and in this case it seems that it does, it’s a win for everyone. iPhone 6 case

on Aug 28, 2014

Thirsty but want something more than 3, 2010,
Commonwealth Edison sued Carter to collect
donations from employees to treat all bodies are usually multiple locations, I know it existed they No Win No Fee

Karl McGaugh (not verified)
on Jun 13, 2012

I think BPI is a front company for the political kick back game. They take a large percent of the grant and use the money to donate back to the political party in power at the time. It's fraud but perfectly legal. Everybody gets paid and the taxpayer is left with the bill. Editorial opinions like yours are rare and I recommend you check with your superiors to make sure you don't cross the line and get the government upset. They can and do investigate media companies that blow the whistle on the kick back game.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 25, 2012

What are the states that do not have any certified professionals?

on Aug 19, 2014

As almost everyone’s expenses knowledgeable, many organizations had to cut back on their display participation and the wide variety of individuals they sent to be existing at activities was considerably reduced. cheap joomla hosting

on Oct 2, 2014

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 6, 2012

In response to this quoted passage:

"A big company just keeps someone on staff who is certified — the on-site workers don't have to be, it was claimed. This may not be accurate, Carol noted, but something about it rings true."

The company I work for in PA is a Weatherization Assistance Provider and funded by the DOE. The auditors for the WAP are required to be BPI certified but none of the laborers, or hvac crews are. The BPI trained auditors rarely, if ever, actually see the jobsite once the work begins.

Feel free to e-mail me with any questions regarding the DOE amd Weatherization Providers and the BPI issue.

We also have contracts with the utility companies. So far they have not placed any crazy made-up "utility standards" on the table.

on Aug 27, 2014

Over the decades, we have helped grow lots of organization events and have helped numerous organizations increase their display participation. AHR Expo, Xylem and FieldAware are among a few of our clients in the HVACR marketplace. truth about cellulite by joey atlas pdf

on Oct 4, 2014

He serves as an example to others to take a risk and test new technologies. If the technology works, and in this case it seems that it does, it’s a win for everyone. Property Buyers

Bob Kessener (not verified)
on Jul 6, 2012

Our country's founding fathers established limited government for a very wise reason. The problem stems from usurpation - the assumption of power not delegated; unauthorized use of taxing power, legislation outside the strict bounds of the Constitution, judiciary complicity. We the people need to petition our elected reps for redress of grievance.

This is an excellent article. If anyone is on a grand jury, I suggest you ask for an investigation of this debacle before we become more burdened by such elitist sophistry as BPI.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 12, 2012

As a person who has recently struggled with BPI's new and more expensive recertification process, it is my hope that something is done to reign in BPI and its collection of cronies that are forcing contractor to spend huge amounts of money to pass poorly monitored "field audits" that have little recourse other than to pay and pay.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 12, 2012

BPI should ha

on Aug 19, 2014

Also, most organization events offer top-notch classes for visitors to be existing at. Shameless connect here — don’t skip the Fab Five as they existing “The Technological Town Hall” at AHR Jan 28 at 1:00 p.m. where Lee G. Lovett practiced law

on Sep 11, 2014

I am happy to find this post very useful for me, as it contains lot of information. I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. Thanks for sharing. DCE UK

on Sep 18, 2014

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. It is the old what goes around comes around routine.
an easy way to get a girlfriend

on Sep 18, 2014

Great post I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this interesting and knowledgeable article.
michael fiore's text your ex back 2 method

on Sep 19, 2014

I read a article under the same title some time ago, but this articles quality is much, much better. How you do this..
download pdf ebook

on Sep 21, 2014

Thanks for the blog loaded with so many information. Stopping by your blog helped me to get what I was looking for.

on Oct 3, 2014

In the BBBS offer 10% of the total final item award package for a TB analytic would be arranged for companies making useful details efforts to the end item, in this case a TB analytic. Saran Wrap Weight Loss

Please or Register to post comments.

What's As I See It?

Robert Mader's Blog


Robert Mader

Bob Mader is the editor of CONTRACTOR magazine, Green Mechanical Contractor magazine, and Radiant Living magazine. He has been writing about plumbing, mechanical, green building and HVACR topics for...
Blog Archive

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×