The end of Innovation and beginning of Commoditization of Home Performance

Does anyone else feel that Home Performance is becoming commoditized? 

The final nail for me is BPI requiring BA candidates to be capble of energy modeling.  Why would you want to do that?  To my knowledge, limited as it may be, there is no good modeling tool yet. 

Furthermore, the algorithms the engineers and mathematicians use to quantify the results of my labor are based on proven facts from field measurements (I hope), not 'educated guesses'. 

If that is true, and you are an innovator, to put it politely, you are screwed. 

I am encountering this now. 

I see a crawl space full of plumbing, ductwork, spiders, and wasted heat.  I want to lay EPDM on the ground in that space, spray closed cell foam from the underside of the subfloor down to the EPDM and all across the EPDM.  To me that is the best way to handle that situation.  My modeling tool doesn't 'get' that approach and does not award me any juice for savings on reduced duct leakage, no frozen pipes, warm floors, no rotted floor joists, no mold farm, etc. 

If I see a furnace and AC unit in an attic, i want to either cathederalize the attic or make a conditioned mechanical room in the attic.  Again, the modeling tool does not properly award me for that. 

I am a novice level professional on HVAC.  I am sure there are abundant innovations in that world our amateur software systems cannot accurately describe or award.  Rennai space heaters for instance cannot be used in the program in NY because they are not efficient enough, but you can put a 97% furnace on a 10x10 supply plenum with an open cabinet in the basement for return and it will not get questioned unless it gets inspected. 

There are still a lot of innovators in this business.  There are still a lot of innovations to experience.  Modeling will damage the ability of these innovators to compete and prove their innovations are valuable. 

This level of intrusion by program into practice is only designed to do one thing, limit competition and award compliance. 

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Hi Pat,

A good friend (business owner) once told me to avoid anything hot, as in a really good opportunity.  I failed to follow his advice when I decided to retire into the energy performance business and I have learned he was right, but I do enjoy this field.  Although I expected things to go crazy I didn't anticipate the government push to enhance their job numbers.  Throw in the early decision to leave the software in the hands of free enterprise and we have a real can of worms. 

As for "The end of Innovation" I'm of the opinion it hasn't started yet.  Between correcting the existing industry and incorporating the tsunami of technology that is just starting, there is more to do today than 10 years ago.  Yes, the work will be somewhat different, but more work than the current army of auditors can handle.

Add to this that the majority of all work being done is way short of what will be justified when energy costs double or triple.  Remember, all of that gas we have discovered in the US will be sold at world market prices which show little sign of going down.  Imagine every home being required to meet some medium level of energy efficiency.  Just a medium level, combined with all of the other repairs so many homes need will keep the construction industry and ours, busy for 50 years.

No, I'm very optimistic.


I agree with you Pat, BPI is making some serious errors.  My angle is a little different.  I see it as "Piling On" or "Scope Creep."  I see BA as the 101, and they are turning it into masters level.  If anything I think BA should cover LESS, not more.  

Piling more on diminishes the importance and complexity of these tasks.  Improperly sets expectations that performing good Modeling and Design is monkey work.  Something a cave man could do.  

Unfortunately BPI seems to view their customer as the EE programs, and they appear interested in serving those interests even if it ends up alienating folks like you who somehow bothered to get certified, are interested in maintaining their certification, and have absolutely no business argument for the investment. 

I recently had lunch with John Jones, National Technical Director for BPI and he recognizes BPI's weakness here. So that's a good thing, some see it at least. 

Unfortunately there are large gaps between recognizing a problem, putting effort into thinking about solutions, and then actually implementing change. Organizations that rely heavily on government handouts tend not to do change well. 

I suspect BPI will lose a lot of ground before they start to figure out their customer service process and culture really sucks. Before that can happen they first have to decide to look at those with certification and accreditation as their customer. 


We've steered clear (so far)  of BPI as we saw it as bureaucratic - we didn't see it as the commodity base that you mention - but we do now!  Good points Pat.  Modeling has a place in this business but affordability and end results should be the driving forces.  The modeling tool doesn't automatically do the things you mention - the person doing the modeling should be able to... some modeling tools won't allow variables and others are very good at it. Sadly the Gov is embracing the simplified versions of modeling which don't allow the innovation you speak of.

BPI provides about half of what they need to provide to be a real value to the consumer or contractor.  

They don't track results.  

They don't measure quality.  

They don't rank contractors.  

They don't teach consultative sales.  

They don't teach comprehensive design.

They don't show contractors how to evolve from product to consultative selling.  

They don't mentor at any level.  

They leave it up to the contractor to take it from theory to practice.  They basically take the baby and toss him the pool.  Some survive, some don't, none swim well.  "Here's an airplane.  These things fly in the air.  Good luck!"  

If they don't start offering value to consumer and contractor, they will forever be dependent upon suckling from government programs.  



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