Ensuring the Quality of HERS Ratings; The Present and Future of RESNET Quality Assurance

May 31st, 2018 - Posted by emma@resnet.us under RESNET News

The consistency and quality assurance of Home Energy Ratings is paramount to the success of the rating industry. RESNET is striving to maintain the RESNET Quality Assurance program as the gold standard and many initiatives are being undertaken to accomplish that goal.
This goal is critical because Home Energy Ratings are being adopted into building codes and are being recognized by the appraisal and real estate industries. Credibility is of the highest importance to these new stakeholders. RESNET’s Quality Assurance program provides the basis of that credibility. It will take RESNET staff, providers and raters working together to make ratings and Quality Assurance more consistent to accomplish this goal.
The RESNET Board of Directors has made HERS ratings quality assurance a high priority. This commitment is reflected by the allocation of significant resources to up RESNET’s quality assurance game.
The RESNET Board of Directors approved the approach designed by staff to effectively use these resources for a more consistent Quality Assurance process in three areas. First, additional staff was needed to implement steps two (Implementation of new technologies) and three (consistent training from RESNET).
Step One: Additional Quality Assurance Staff Support
 
As a result of the new per rating fee structure adopted by the RESNET Board, 2017 brought many enhancements to the RESNET Quality Assurance program. Scott Doyle was brought on as RESNET’s Quality Assurance Manager. This doubled the RESNET QA Team and enabled RESNET to expand the oversight of rating providers and Quality Assurance designees.
Also, in 2018, RESNET will be adding again to the RESNET QA Team with the addition of an In-Field QA Specialist! This gives RESNET a more visible presence in the field and will help us gain valuable insight into the real world challenges raters and providers face on a regular basis. For 2018, the In-Field Specialist will be completing site visits with 25% of providers and their QA staff to conduct training and provide mentorship and oversight.
The In-Field QA Specialist will enable RESNET to have a more robust complaint resolution process by sending him into the field to investigate.
For the first time, RESNET will be providing direct training to RESNET accredited Quality Assurance Designees (QAD) in the field. This means that half of all providers and their QA staff will have additional oversight and monitoring every year through an online or on-site review. RESNET staff being out in the field will increase consistency of the QA process and provide guidance to QADs for consistent interpretation of the RESNET Standards.
Step Two: Implementation of New Technology
RESNET staff is also using QA Genie as a tool to analyze ratings and to guide further quality assurance oversight activities.
In addition, starting in 2018, the RESNET Registry has the ability to track quality assurance reviews. This is a proactive approach to the oversight of rating providers because quality assurance reviews will be able to be tracked in real time and directly monitored by RESNET staff.
 
Step Three: Consistent Training for all QADs and Rating Providers
For consistency of quality reviews, it is critical that all Rating Providers and QADs are aware of what is expected by RESNET. A key to achieving this is robust training by RESNET staff of QADs and Rating Providers.
RESNET will also be conducting a quarterly webinar series for QADs in 2018. These webinars will cover a variety of topics including items discovered in the analysis of QA Genie and best practices for conducting quality assurance reviews. This is the first step in meeting a RESNET Board Directive that all Quality Agents shall be trained by RESNET. Future steps will include in-person training.
A universal QA field checklist has been developed and is currently being vetted in the field. Soon it will be the required instrument for all field QA performed by RESNET QADs. This will ensure that all QADs consistently look at the features of a home and are uniformly documented.
RESNET staff is also developing training for all accredited Rating Providers to ensure that they fully understand their responsibilities. This training will begin in 2019.
 
Step Four: Movement to Quality Processes that Prevent Errors from the Current Audit-Based Model
 
The above steps represent an important movement forward, but RESNET staff plans to take further action to enhance quality oversight of HERS ratings. In 2018, the RESNET QA Staff will present a comprehensive proposal to the Board of Directors to further improve the RESNET Quality Assurance Program. The new plan will focus more effort on training, mentoring, and quality processes that prevent errors. The proposed new program will replace or augment the current audit-based model that seeks to uncover quality problems after they have already occurred. The expanded use of QA Genie is an example of the possible initiatives that RESNET staff will explore as a means to identify and remedy quality problems in process rather than retroactively.

RESNET’s expansion of the QA Team and new direction of Quality Assurance will continue to improve consistency and quality of Home Energy Ratings. Much has been accomplished, and many changes have been set in motion. But there is more work to do. The credibility of our industry is at stake. Thanks to the foresight of the RESNET Board of Directors, RESNET has both the directive and the resources to ensure that our Quality Assurance Program is, and remains, the Gold Standard.

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