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Understanding BPI Certification

The Building Performance Institute (BPI) is committed to a systems approach to building houses that are energy efficient and environmentally conscious. It has developed a body of standards for certifying individual building professionals and accrediting building contracting companies. BPI certification can be acquired through intensive training programs in the various fields of work.

Importance of BPI Certification

This certification is especially important to work on projects connected with the Home Performance with ENERGY STARĀ® (HPwES) program that offers incentives for eligible homeowners to upgrade the energy efficiency of their houses.

For example, incentives will be approved for a multifamily dwelling only if the contractor has at least one staff person with BPI Multifamily certification working on the project. The certification is also credible for establishing eligibility for utility rebates under HPwES.

Anyone interested in becoming certified should check out the BPI website for the BPI Small Homes Certification Policies & Procedures. This document clearly outlines all the national standards and the necessary knowledge areas for all certification types. Although applicants can take these examinations without any particular preparation, it is recommended that they participate in the classroom training and field practice offered by independent training organizations across the country.

For example, the California Building Performance Contractors Association (CBPCA) has been part of every HPwES program in California for ten years. To stay on the cutting edge of home performance through energy efficiency, the association offers BPI certification training. The Association for Energy Affordability (AEA) is a not-for-profit association in New York that is committed to energy efficiency in multifamily buildings. As an affiliate of BPI, it also offers certification training.

Types of BPI Certification

There are seven specialist areas for certification. An applicant might stay with his one usual area of work or expand his expertise by training in other areas.

Whatever decision he/she makes, it is important to remember that the philosophy of BPI is that all the design and work on the house is integrated in terms of optimal energy efficiency.

Building Analyst: This certification requires the ability not only to assess the overall tightness and efficiency of the building structure and systems, but also the ability to identify the cause of any problem and recommend solutions.

Envelope: An envelope specialist will have trained in some of the building analyst topics, with more of a focus on the efficiency of the actual shell of the building, looking for problems such as uncontrolled air leakage and poor air quality and recommending ways to correct the situation.

Residential Building Envelope Whole House Air Leakage Control Installer: This specialist understands weatherization of the home, including air sealing and insulation and will be able to become an installer.

Manufactured Housing: A specialist in manufactured housing is able to measure and assess the performance of the systems in the house and how they interact with other systems.

Heating: Certification as a heating specialist includes knowledge in health and safety, heating systems, design of distribution systems, combustion science, duct diagnostics, installation of the ventilation system and how to inspect electrical systems.

Air Conditioning and Heat Pump: An applicant must have the BPI heating certification to be accepted for this cooling specialization. BPI now also accepts the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification as an accreditation option for HVAC contractors.

Multifamily: This certification is intended as a specialty for building analysts and energy auditors with experience.

The BPI certification training is a combination of time spent in a classroom or online followed by practice in the field. This ensures a full understanding of the standards and the philosophy of BPI.

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