Saturday, April 28, 2012

What is Home Performance with Energy Star?

I take the lonely position that the Unites States is horribly misguided, where it takes and pushes the notion that residential weatherization benefits from a US Department of Energy/ Environmental Protection Agency program called Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®.

This position is expressed in numerous posts. Search Home Performance in the line above. I do not just imagine that home performance is simply a scam to most contractors. A little snake oil song and dance. Privileged access to rebates for customers then abused in a conflict of interest. I knew I had done wrong when I sold my blower door to a BPI-certified know-nothing. I had done wrong in abetting misuse of that tool, thereafter. She immediately perceived me with pity. How will I get work? She offered to share crumbs to me as a subcontractor, in her privileged role as a General, no doubt taking ten percent for no effort and no competence or responsibility, a theft from my customer. A year later her only recollection of value in the blower door was in finding a nail pull-out hole at bottom of a large-diameter return air duct; no value in other words.

I might have a blower door again some day. But, never while lies persist, that they are needful. Trained eyes find every problem, where I have done the hard work of developing attic access. In every case where I have followed a HPwES tester, I find large savings opportunities not detectable by test, never sought by test, and not achievable without days of hard work, less rewarded because of counterfeit competition. The worst problem with privilege of rebates or other incentives in HPwES, is that it teaches non-participants to not bother with diligence.

I have thought HPwES to be a product of odd thinking at Bonneville Power Administration and Eugene (Oregon) Water & Electric Board, feeling guilty of association as an Oregonian. From EWEB: Final Report, Demand-Side Resource and Programs Assessment for Eugene Water & Electric Board November 13, 2006at page 35:

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® programs, a structure that focuses on optimizing household energy performance using blower doors and other test equipment.
It is rarely more than a blower door show.

ICF claims it is running the show, for EPA: 
ICF provides support to the EPA’s Climate Protection Partnerships Division in the development and implementation of Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® (HPwES) and other home improvement initiatives designed to encourage homeowners to make cost-effective energy efficiency improvements.

The HPwES program focuses on the development and delivery of the whole-house approach to improving residential energy efficiency, comfort, and safety. As the primary recruitment team for HPwES, ICF works with utilities, state energy offices, and other organizations on program development and coordinates the delivery of national objectives in regional markets.

Currently, ICF manages twenty regional markets to identify program sponsors for HPwES. We actively work with these organizations to provide support during the planning and implementation process. This support includes assistance with conducting a detailed market assessment, selecting appropriate program design, establishing contractor training and certification requirements, recruiting contractors, and implementing comprehensive home performance programs, including incentive payment verification and processing.

Who is ICF? 
ICF International was founded in 1969 as the Inner City Fund, a venture capital firm whose mission was to finance inner-city businesses.  

Our first president was C. D. Lester, a former Tuskegee Airman, who was joined in the firm by three U.S. Department of Defense analysts. Our consulting business proved more successful than our investments, and in 1972, the firm was reorganized as a consulting firm and renamed ICF Incorporated.

Focusing on energy issues for U.S. federal agencies and for industry throughout the 1970s, the firm expanded into environmental business rapidly in the 1980s and began to build its engineering capabilities. In 1988 ICF acquired Kaiser Engineers, which had originated as the engineering unit of Henry J. Kaiser's industrial empire and grew to rank among the largest engineering and construction companies in the world. In the following year (1989), the combined company went public and eventually traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange. The combined company operated as "ICF Kaiser,"with the consulting unit remaining largely intact.

In 1999, ICF Consulting ended its decade-long affiliation with Kaiser Engineers through a leveraged buyout, financed in part by the CM Equity Partners, LP, an equity investment firm based in New York City.

In 2006, ICF Consulting was renamed ICF International to reflect our growing geographic presence and increased scope of our service offerings from advisory services through implementation and improvement. The firm also pursued an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and now is a publicly traded firm listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol ICFI.

ICF International is a global, diversified firm that combines the entrepreneurship and dynamism of a new company with a solid reputation in the consulting industry derived from more than 40 years of performance.

1 comment:

Max Rockbin said...

Energy Star in general and their home performance efforts in particular leave a lot to be desired.

As Phil points out, even their basic criteria may be faulty. Certainly, their number one priority ought to be first to make sure their requirements and guidelines are actually useful and effective. "Do No Harm."

Once that is achieved, how about better prioritizing? Some things (like attic insulation) are vastly more important than, say, window coatings (in Solar deprived areas like Oregon, having a requirement that windows actually block out heat from the Sun is ... lunacy).

Measures and Methods that save the most energy for the least cost should be a huge priority. They should get the biggest incentives and the most research and the most thought out guidelines. It often seems like the opposite is true.