Enhancing the National Consistency of HERS Index Scores RESNET’s Holistic Approach

August 20th, 2015 - Posted by Laurel Elam under RESNET News

Across the nation the RESNET HERS Index Score is fast becoming a mainstream in the housing market. Homebuilders are having their homes energy rated and marketing the HERS Index Score of their homes, Multiple Listing Services (MLS) are incorporating the HERS Index Scores in their listings and code jurisdictions are recognizing a HERS Index Score as a building energy code compliance option. In 2014 over a third of new homes sold were HERS rated and issued a HERS Index Score.

With the increased visibility of the HERS Index Score, RESNET is obligated to ensure that HERS Index Scores are as consistent as possible.  This need has been made more important with the International Code Council adopting an Energy Rating Index option to the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code.  To date Maryland, Texas and Vermont have adopted the new code.  The state of Illinois is in the final process of adopting it.

RESNET has initiated a comprehensive effort to enhance the consistency of HERS Index Scores.  The pillars of RESNET’s effort are:

  • Qualified HERS Raters and Rating Field Inspectors
  • Enhanced Quality Assurance of HERS Ratings
  • Consistency in the Calculation of HERS Index Scores
  • Robust RESNET Quality Assurance Oversight Infrastructure

Without this holistic approach it is impossible to have national consistency.  If one element if missing, the whole house collapses.

Enhancing the Qualification of Certified HERS Raters and Rating Field Inspectors

Certified RESNET HERS Raters and Rating Field Inspectors are where the industry’s rubber meets the road.  The entire HERS system’s credibility is determined by the qualifications of the person who conducts the field inspections and testing and who models the energy performance of a home.

While RESNET has long had an online written cognitive test, there was no replicable practical test to determine the qualification of HERS Raters and Rating Field Inspectors.  To offer valid practical tests that are cost effective, RESNET has invested in the latest technology for the testing the practical knowledge of candidates.  RESNET standards require that existing HERS Raters and new candidates must pass the RESNET Practical Simulation Test and Rating Field Inspectors must complete the RESNET tablet based Rating Field Inspector JobWerks Assessment.  These tests will level the playing field and increase the credibility of HERS Ratings in that all RESNET professionals will have passed a valid replicable practical test on the applications of producing a HERS Index.

RESNET is also in the process of rationalizing and streamlining its instruction, assessment and certification standard.  The proposed amendment is in the final process of its consensus based public review and comment process following the RESNET “Standards Development Policy and Procedures Manual”.

There are also growth opportunities for HERS Raters.  Through partnerships with NATE and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, HERS Raters can expand their services to include HVAC system verification and through a partnership with the International Code Council can expand their services to energy code inspections.

Enhancing the Quality Assurance Oversight of HERS Ratings

A vital element in enhancing the consistency of HERS Index Scores is having a robust quality assurance oversight process.  For the past two years RESNET has been working with the industry on enhancing its HERS Rating quality assurance process.  A key feature of this effort will be separating the financial interest of the quality assurance oversight from HERS Rating companies.  RESNET will soon be releasing a draft standard amendment that addresses HERS Rating quality assurance oversight.  The amendment will go through the consensus based standard amendment process spelt out in the RESNET “Standards Development Policy and Procedures Manual”.

Enhancing the Consistency in the Calculation of HERS Index Scores

It is vital that all HERS software programs consistently calculate a home’s HERS Index Score.  Having different HERS software tools producing different HERS Index Scores taxes the credibility of HERS Ratings.  RESNET will adopt a process to ensure all accredited HERS software calculate the HERS Index in a consistent manner.

Having a Robust RESNET Quality Assurance Oversight Infrastructure

In order to ensure the consistency of HERS Index Scores a robust quality assurance oversight infrastructure must be maintained.  The proposed amendment to the RESNET quality assurance standard will create financially independent Quality Assurance Agents   that will serve as agents of RESNET in undertaking quality assurance oversight for accredited Rating Quality Assurance Providers.  In addition RESNET will invest in new technologies, increase the quality assurance capabilities of the RESNET National Registry and have additional RESNET staff dedicated to quality assurance and accreditation of providers.

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