HES or EPS for MPG?
But here’s the thing: There’s another home energy rating system, called the Energy Performance Scorecard (EPS), which has been piloted in Oregon and digs deeper into a home’s energy use, with both an energy consumption rating of zero to off the charts and the same for carbon impact. “My concern is that the [Home Energy Score] does not offer enough granularity. But it is a very powerful tool for engagement,” says Sean Penrith, executive director of the Earth Advance Institute, which helped pilot the EPS program. “A McMansion and a bungalow could have the same efficiency rating, but won’t have the same carbon impact.”
An advanced version of the EPS program has also been piloted in Washington state, where electric utility bills will be factored in. The program will also be piloted in communities in Virginia, Massachusetts and Alabama—with funding from the DOE, to look at marketing forces, policy and other related issues.
So there could still be changes to the U.S. federal government’s Home Energy Score program.
Oregon’s program could also be mandated for those selling their homes. Costs for the energy audit to do the program could rage from $200 to 600, before the energy retrofits, but could be subsidized by state or utility programs if the payback is good enough.
“It’s going to change the way we retrofit buildings,” says Stephen Aiguier, of Green Hammer, which provides audits, energy retrofits and design and build services in Oregon.
Residential Retrofit Guidelines
In addition to launching the Home Energy Score, the DOE announced the release of the new Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades. Energy improvement programs can adopt these guidelines to increase the consistency and effectiveness of energy upgrades, and training providers can use them to improve course curricula and training materials. These guidelines were developed through a collaboration between energy efficiency contractors, building scientists, health and safety experts, technicians and trainers in the weatherization program, and other professionals in the building and home energy upgrade industry.
The Workforce Guidelines include standard work specifications required for high-quality work, a reference guide for technical standards and codes, analyses of the job tasks involved in completing various energy efficiency improvements, and the minimum qualifications workers should possess to perform high quality work. Identifying the knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform efficiency upgrades represents an important step in developing a nationwide framework for training program accreditation and worker certification. The guidelines will be available for public comment through January 7, 2011.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates