New Rater Business Opportunities
A key service that RESNET provides to its rater members is to provide new business development opportunities. Currently the primary source of economic demand for rating services is verification of homes for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ENERGY STAR Homes Program. It is not healthy for any industry to be dependent upon a single federally sponsored program or a single facet of the housing market.
In the process of developing the RESNET strategic planning framework, RESNET convened the Building Performance Planning Focus Group composed of recognized leaders in the industry. The members were:
- Mike Baker, TXU Electric Delivery
- Steve Cowell, Conservation Services Group
- Megan Edmunds, E-Star Colorado
- Philip Fairey, Florida Solar Energy Center
- David Goldstein, Natural Resources Defense Council
- Thomas Hamilton, CHEERS
- Stephanie Harmon, Progress and Associates
- Michael Holtz, Architectural Energy Corporation
- David Lee, Environmental Protection Agency
- Joseph Lstiburek, Building Science Corporation
- Kelly Parker, Guaranteed Watt Savers
- Edward Pollock, U.S. Department of Energy
- Bill Prindle, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy
This group identified the need to develop new services for home energy raters outside of ENERGY STAR and the traditional home energy ratings. In 2006 the tasks submitted by the RESNET staff to the Board of Directors included developing a prioritized list of potential new services for home energy raters. The following is prioritized list of potential new services that was adopted by the RESNET Board:
- Tapping the Existing Homes Market
Traditionally, energy ratings of existing homes were focused on documentation for energy efficient mortgages. Clearly there is a far greater market potential than this niche. These new opportunities are defined in the new RESNET framework for energy audits for existing homes. An example of this potential is in the state of California where regulations require duct testing by a certified rater at the time of an air conditioner replacement. Another example is the European Union's Energy Performance in Buildings directive that requires rating of buildings at time of sale or change of occupancy. Legislation has already been introduced in New Jersey to have such a requirement in the state. In addition, raters will need access to financing which they can offer to clients in order to make the recommended improvements.
- Environmental and Energy Efficiency Certificate Trading
Today, credits for environmental emission reduction and energy efficiency are being traded as a commodity in various environmental and utility markets. Through the introduction of environmental cap and trade systems, energy efficiency certificates, and utility capacity trading, credit for energy efficiency is being monetized into a tradable commodity. As programs such as cap and trade and energy efficiency certificates expand from state and regional programs into national and international programs, the demand for raters to measure and certify compliance to the emission or efficiency targets will dramatically increase.
- Energy Code Compliance
The U.S. Department of Energy has recently predicted the emergence of performance-based code compliance. An example of this potential opportunity is the state of California. The California building code requires builders to have their homes performance-tested for air tightness and duct leakage by a certified home energy rater. A new business service for builders would be to provide code compliance documentation.
- Builder Warranty Mitigation Service
The home building industry is facing an increasing rate of litigation from disgruntled home buyers. A new potential service is for senior raters to undertake a diagnosis of a home during litigation and provide a mitigation strategy to a builder.
- House Doctor
More and more, homeowners are experiencing indoor air, health and structural problems created by building science failures. A profitable venture for senior raters could be to pinpoint the cause of housing failures and propose specific actions to remedy the problems. The senior rater could then provide a referral to a qualified contractor to carry out the required treatment. The senior rater then could verify that the contractor provided the treatment as prescribed.
- Assisting Builders in Working with Designers to
Incorporate Building Performance in Homes Design
Raters enter the picture of the home building process after the architectural design has been set. As builders strive for higher performing buildings a new opportunity arises to assist the builder by working with the designer to incorporate high performance in the home's design.
RESNET has adopted action plans for each of the initiatives and an education plan to inform RESNET raters of these opportunities and how to tap them. To view the plan click on RESNET Action Plan for New Rater Business Opportunities.