Good morning How do the NEW certifications affect those of us that are certified as Building Analyst? Will we need to be re-certified? A bit of confusion in Chicago

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One point I would like to clear up is the idea that you might need to add the Energy Auditor (EA) certification on top of the certifications you already have (and thus adding to your costs). If you have been maintaining your BA certification and performing energy audits, then you will likely meet the prerequisite criteria required to take the new EA certification exams. The next time you are due to renew your BA certification (every three years) it makes sense that you would take the new exams for the EA certification, rather than renew your BA certification. You would not be incurring additional costs, as you would have had to pay to take the BA exam again if you chose to renew that.

 

Remember that all four of these new certifications require experience prerequisites to take the exams. Those of you with the BA certification and experience in the field will naturally have a leg up on newcomers to the field, who would not be able to earn the new certifications until they’ve met the prerequisite criteria.

 

Please do review the prerequisite requirements (one page) at www.bpi.org/pilot. The 30- page handbook Ira mentioned yesterday contains a description of the knowledge, skills and abilities an energy auditor should have.

 

Some of you mentioned the issue of rising prices and additional proctor fees. In January we received many comments and concerns regarding our announced February 1st fee changes. We welcomed this feedback, as it helps us keep the bar of professionalism high in the industry. In late January BPI’s CEO Larry Zarker sent an open letter to trainers, proctors and test centers in January to address these concerns. I’ve copied two of the questions and answers here:

 

Why is BPI raising exam prices?

Administration:  BPI issued its first certifications in 1996 and has never raised prices in the history of the organization. In 2005 we processed 350 certifications. Last year we processed over 13,000 certifications and nearly 32,000 certification exams. Meeting this administrative challenge has been expensive. Three years ago we had the foresight to begin an investment into IT database development in order to automate more of our systems. We are nearly $1 million into that effort, and have been able to cut processing times from over six weeks to less than two. 

 

Standards Development: BPI is now engaged in over 20 standards development activities.  All of these are extremely important to the industry but don’t actually provide BPI with any revenue. However the industry depends on and looks to us for these standards. There are significant and rising costs associated with convening Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from across the industry and country to develop standards using a consensus-based methodology. In addition, as a developer of American National Standards through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), we are required to consistently adhere to a set of procedures that govern the consensus development process. These procedures require outreach to SMEs, broad-based public review and comment on draft standards, consideration and response to comments and strict record keeping and reporting requirements.

 

Staff:  In 2005 BPI employed six staff members to develop standards, work with affiliates to develop certification exams and process applications. Today we employ 41staff members engaged in developing and delivering new standards, new certifications for the workforce, accreditation for contracting companies and a third party quality assurance program. Staff also works with test centers to provide guidance and quality assurance in the proctoring process.

 

 Why is BPI introducing new fees for proctors and test centers?

BPI works hard to ensure that our exams succeed in fairly and thoroughly evaluating the building science knowledge and skills of certification candidates. The current system of oversight worked when the number of exams taken was small. However in 2011 nearly 32,000 exams were administered nationwide. Thus we are implementing a number of quality control measures, all of which have costs associated with them. These include:

 

  • All field exams will use proprietary software. BPI will provide the software license to approved BPI Proctors at the conclusion of Beta testing.
  • Review of randomized sample of videotaped written and field exams.
  • BPI will conduct quarterly continuing education proctor training sessions.
  • BPI will conduct specific proctor training activity in various formats, based on Proctor QA

 

Thanks for all of your comments.

Let me get this straight, we can choose between BA and EA when we go to renew the BA certification because BA is now considered less strenuous than EA. Hoewever if we choose to do that we give up BA. Why does his have to be an either or, why can't we retain the inferior certification when we qualify for the superior one? why do we have to choose between them?

I ask because as far as I know NYSERDA requires BA as the first certification for contractors in NY. And I am not sure we actually have this choice in NY.

This is not the bigger problem for contractors financially though. The bigger problem is the Installer certifications. I know BPI has installer out, they are working on at least 2 levels of certification, installer and contractor, for foam installers. How long before we see cellulose loose fill, cellulose dense pack, etc become their own certifications?

Railroads went broke because unions are able to break up rail lines into sections of 100 miles and required engineers & conductors to get 'qualified' on each section of rail before they could run those routes.

If certification is going to be taken seriously BPI should stop churning out "certifications" to anyone who will pay the fee. Here in Chicago everybody is training and no one is working. There are ads on craigslist for "training" through the WIA program. It borders on scam when you train someone for a job that is not there and without hope in the foreseeable future. This should be rethought from the ground up.

I concur.

Leslie,

 

There is still some confusion.  Should an experienced auditor ditch envelope, analyst, and heating certifications for the new auditor certification when it is time to recertify? Or should she just ditch analyst, replace that with auditor but keep the other certifications? Is BPI viewing this move in the context of the states/programs that have adopted BPI  BA certification as a minimum criteria to work in the state/program?  Thanks for any insight you can provide. 

 

The best part is - There is No law that I know requires anyone to be BPI certified,

much less the HERS or LEED...

So why do it?

It's not a law but you need these certs to qualify for a job and you do need the certs. Try and do anything in EE without. It's the nature of the system. I figure costs of training will come down when they figure out you should train competent people with a building or engineering background .It is important to be trained well. I know, we built em wrong for 300 years Union Carpenter Local 181 Chicago (energy advocate after training) training furnished to all Union members

The expense is something that I agree with.  BPI keeps adding certifications that seem meaningless at best.  Rarely does I client care.  And paying certification as a company is nothing more than an added expense.  I managed another home performance company for 18 months.  they brag that they are a BPI accredited company.   Yet they have never done any combustion zone testing,   do not even have the equipment.   Yet BPI could care less as long as the fees keep coming in.

So where is the quality assurance and the oversight for that situation and many more like it.  They are going through all these changes to make improvements in quality,etc, such as videotaping the exams, but really it doesn't matter when you have some folks boasting about certifications they obtained but are not really following the standards.

That was my point. They want us to maintain credits and pay fees but do absolutely nothing about the third party inspections they talk about.   We need standards... this is good thing.  But the general public needs to understand the value of using a certified company.  This will not happen if the certification means nothing more than the fees were paid on time.

Yes, I was agreeing with you in a rhetorical manner. Thanks.

What I am trying to do is open up the knowledge aspect of this site. Certifications mean absolutely nothing if you must pay a fee for any and all of the new "certs". It's fine if new standards come up but why can't I meet those new standards with a simple test specific to the new standards. Why must I be subjected to another "training on the new standards"? Did the rules change that drastically? If they did, does that mean I received substandard training to begin with or the original training was outdated? Or did the rules simply change? Why isn't it like a computer program: an update is available? Personally I don't know the future of the "profession" I won't guess

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