The City of Dallas is going to implement a program where Certified Verifiers (BPI & HERS) will be allowed to do plan reviews on green projects. I’m curious to know if other cities or municipalities have similar programs and what you’ll think of the idea. Pros and cons? How is it working?
Hi Armando, interesting.
I try to touch base every few weeks with my local code official (Maine) and the confusion as to what is, will be, should be, or can be sounds similar. Codes that they thought were going into effect get challenged. Others move from mandatory to voluntary, although I have no idea what a voluntary requirement really is.
It sounds like Dallas is simply allowing projects to move forward with plan review and inspection being provided by third party green people. I may have missed it, but I don't recall the word "independent". If that's the case, well, I won't speculate.
From the little I can claim to know, Maine is trying to implement their energy codes and they have used the wording "third party" in reference to testing out to verify all is as it should be. But my guess is they are not done changing things. I'm about due for another quick visit to our town office and if chance allows I may have an opportunity for an update.
The program is intended for third party independent raters and verifiers (aka BPI, HERS) to plan review and inspect the green component of the construction. All other elements of plan review and inspections will be done by the city.
But can the independent verifier be employed by one of the related contractors or is it that s/he simply must have gone through the training?
I just spoke with Mark Daniel, (Mark.Daniel@dallascityhall.com, 214.948.4464) Chief Plumbing and Mechanical Inspector, about your question. He said tha they certify individuals and not companies. He offered to talk with anyone interested in the subject, and I've included his information.
It's good to keep spreading good work, and hopefully some day soon, everyone will be on the same page.
Here in Delaware, we have the largest per-capita number in the country of green homes verified under the NAHB Green Program. This program has their own verifier standard - training and testing - and the program you are working under should have their own also. The Energy Star Program encourages what they call "bundling" - a contractor on a job can also be the Energy Star verifier - but NAHB Green does not allow it. This is a major hassle for my firm doing some contracting and delivering Energy Star as we have to hire an outside firm just to do the Green verification. I can't imagine that a BPI certification alone would prepare anyone for plan reviews at the level needed.
I'm not an expert in Raters and Verifiers, but ES has some long checklists that are to be done by the Rater/Verifier and the builders are only able to check few items. The reality is that most large green programs, Resnet and BPI, for the most part do a good job educating and training their Raters and Verifiers. Unfortunately, since this is a fairly new industry, there are members that are inexperienced and lack some of the knowledge that a seasoned builder would have, but yet again, I've seen a lot of horribly build homes by experienced and new builders as well; and as fair criticism, so it happens in the design community. I guess, there is lit of bit of everything on all jobs with in our industry.
The new version of ES - it's called 3.0 - has 4 checklists and 3 of them are not completed by the rater, although he is responsible for them. There is currently a mandatory 2 day training for raters (over and above any RESENT requirements) for this version. It is so complicated that despite an 18 month warning about Jan 1 2012 being the start date, they just announced a 6-12 month delay fort various parts of the program. It is yet to be seen what will happen to the green programs - NAHB and LEED come to mind - as they give points for ES but many builders are dropping ES because of the new requirements and associated costs. Note that the 2012 IECC delivers a pretty good house, and ES is not a big step up in terms of calculated energy savings, so ES felt like they had to concentrate on actual performance of installed measures - hence the many checklists.
If I understand correctly, the Thermal Enclosure must be done by the Rater, but at the Rater’s discretion, up to eight items can be verified by the builder; however the Rater is responsible for the verifications. One of the HVAC Installation QC must be filled by the HVAC contractor as it should; and the other by the Rater. The Water Management is builder verified but the Rater is responsible for verification. I really do think the Raters and Verifiers have most of the responsibility.
Last week ESv2.5 was delayed to June 30, 2012 for homes permitted by the end of 2011, because of economic climate, but in the near future, according to Sam Rashkin, who gave us a presentation at Summer Camp three weeks a go, ES is going to become a full program like NGBS or LEED for Homes.
He left EPA a couple of months a go, now he is with DOE.