Performance Matters - E-Newsletter -
July 2010

It's been a while...

Things have been a little hectic around here for the last few months, so it's time to get caught up.

The BPI team has grown again, adding John Jones as National Technical Director working out of the New York office, and Tiger Adolf as Western Regional Director working out of our new California office.

John brings a wealth of home performance contracting and energy efficiency program management experience to BPI, where he will play a critical technical leadership role in BPI's national expansion. He will also serve as director for BPI's rapidly expanding accreditation and quality assurance programs.

Tiger brings more than 20 years experience working with federal and state agencies – as well as investor-owned, cooperative association and municipal utilities – and fills an important role in understanding and implementing weatherization and home performance programs. In addition, she is from the West and has a clear vision of where BPI services can meet the credentialing needs of clients in the region.

We've been busy with standards development, with four new and/or revised standards currently in public review (you can see them and submit your comments here) and more on the way. To help bring more stakeholders into the standards development process, we've created new working groups (see the article BPI Launches Four New Standards Initiatives - Participants Invited in this issue of Performance Matters).

On July 13, 2010, BPI received approval from the American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI) as an accredited developer of American National Standards. This important recognition signifies formal approval and third-party verification of the fairness, openness and balance BPI has offered all of the stakeholders in residential energy efficiency retrofit work. The public sector encourages agencies to adopt existing specifications and standards where they exist that have followed ANSI accreditation requirements (OMB Circular A-119). Moreover, ANSI accreditation shows BPI has a firm understanding of the need to conduct these programs fairly, openly and by established due process. This will ensure its standards-setting work proceeds with a true consensus of views.

Achieving ANSI approval took a lot of hard work from our staff and volunteers who contributed their time and expertise to the Standards Management Board (SMB) and Standards Technical Committee (STC). Kudos to all of you!

We also have two new certifications in pilot phase: Residential Building Envelope Accessible Areas Air Leakage Control Installer and Residential Building Envelope Whole House Air Leakage Control Crew Chief. You can learn a bit more about them here or download the Certification Scheme Handbooks here.

And we continue to experience rapid growth, with 4,173 new certifications and 52 new affiliates – along with a record-setting 214 new accredited companies – coming aboard in the first half of 2010.

And then there's Home Star, a proposed $6 billion federal energy efficiency retrofit program that cites BPI technical standards, personnel certification and company accreditation credentials as requirements in various portions of the program. Passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in late May, the legislation is currently in the Senate. That's kept us busy too.

But we're never too busy to listen to your feedback, complaints, requests and ideas. Get in touch with us at

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New Standard Work Specifications under development

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has hired Advanced Energy to work with BPI on a series of Standard Work Specification (SWS) documents using the knowledge and experience of subject matter experts from across the industry. Expected completion corresponds to Vice President Biden's request for a Recovery Through Retrofit plan by the end of September 2010.

Developed to maintain quality during a time of rapid growth for the home performance and energy efficiency retrofit industry, the SWS will provide guidelines and a foundation for all training, work and quality control relating to BPI standards, personnel certifications and contracting company accreditations. Specifically, they will provide instructions in quality-critical areas, serve to implement and reinforce job skills, meet work requirements/standards and are transferable to most companies in the industry.

The first in the series, Standard Work Specifications for Attic Air Sealing and Other Details, will be released for public comment within the next few weeks. It was developed by Advanced Energy with financial support from Masco Home Services WellHome and the participation of subject matter experts, including:

  • Jim Fitzgerald, Conservation Services Group
  • Larry Harmon, Air Barrier Solutions, LLC
  • Anthony Cox, New River Center for Energy Research and Training
  • Chris Clay, Building Performance Center
  • John Tooley, Advanced Energy
  • Courtney Moriarta, WellHome
  • Keith Aldridge, Advanced Energy (Facilitator)

Watch the Standards Under Review section of for updates!

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BPI Launches Four New Standards Initiatives - Participants Invited

In late June, BPI introduced four new standards initiatives intended to improve residential performance for air distribution, conventional insulation, air leakage control and quality assurance inspection.

"To be most effective, standards must undergo continuous improvement to incorporate methodologies and materials that enhance the end result in the field - namely the comfort, safety, health, durability and energy efficiency of the home," said Larry Zarker, CEO of BPI. "The newly formed working groups will allow for greater participation from stakeholders with a fair, open, consensus-based approach, while also allowing us to work faster and more effectively to bring new standards to fruition at the pace demanded by the rapid growth of the home performance industry."

Working Group 1: Air Distribution System Energy Performance Applications
Chair: John Krigger, Saturn Resource Management

Requirements for the energy performance of air distribution systems in residential buildings, including requirements for typical air distribution energy performance applications and also applied to other locations that are similar. The energy performance measures are designed to reduce heat transfer and air leakage of the air distribution system.

Working Group 2: Quality Assurance Inspection
Chair: Courtney Moriarta, WellHome

Requirements for a residential building quality assurance inspection of relevant installed measures, including requirements to confirm that the retrofit measures have been installed in accordance with the workscope and applicable standards for material, installation and application.

Working Group 3: Envelope Insulation Applications
Chair: John Brooks Smith, Johns Manville

Requirements for installation of various envelope insulation applications used with the appropriate installation and material standards.

Working Group 4: Envelope Air Leakage Control Applications
Chair: Jim Fitzgerald, Conservation Services Group (CSG)

Requirements for typical air leakage control energy applications and also applied to other situations that are similar; used with the appropriate installation standards and material standards referenced herein [e.g., American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards].

Interested in participating? Contact email with your contact information and background, indicating the working group you'd like to join. Most of the meetings will be by teleconference.

Note: Space is limited and not all interested parties will be able to directly participate. However, BPI will provide a method to receive input and to inform all those interested in work group progress and updates.

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Industry News

Do you install polyurethane foam insulation or air sealants? Check out these new health and safety resources from the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry and the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance.

Polyurethane foam insulation and air sealant materials are key tools for improving the performance of the building envelope because they offer complete air leakage control and high R-values.

But they must also be handled and installed correctly to help protect the health and safety of the installer, the crew and the homeowner. Polyurethanes contain a chemical called diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI) as a key ingredient. Once the foam is set, the MDI cannot escape, but it is present during spraying and setting of the material. Coming into direct contact with MDI via inhalation, ingestion or skin contact can pose health risks—especially if the amounts are excessive.

People who are exposed to too much MDI may become "sensitized" to the chemical and experience asthma-like attacks if they are exposed to MDI again. The reaction may be immediate or symptoms may be delayed for several hours. These situations require medical attention, and the individual should not come in contact with MDI ever again.

Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators, gloves, coveralls and goggles, is vital to protecting those who install polyurethane materials, and those who are in the immediate area (within 30 feet) during installation. It's also the law.

OSHA Standards 29 CFR 1910.1200 and 29 CFR 1926 requires the use of:

  • NIOSH-approved full face or hood-type supplied air respirator (SAR)
  • MDI-resistant chemical gloves (nitrile preferred)
  • Chemically resistant long-sleeved coveralls or chemically resistant full body suit with hood
  • MDI-resistant fitted boots/booties

To help promote best-practices for the installation of these materials, the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) and Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) have developed a series of helpful guidance documents and posters, available for free download on You'll find lots of great information and resources under the Health, Protection, First Aid and Regulations tabs, such as how to read a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or develop a respiratory protection program for your company. There's also information on proper storage of polyurethane, respirator fit, gun maintenance, spill containment and proper use of PPE.

If you – or your crews – handle and install polyurethane foam, BPI strongly encourages you to visit and use these materials to ensure everyone on the job site stays safe.

Revised Home Star Legislation Introduced in U. S. Senate

A revised version of the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 (S. 3434) was introduced in the United States Senate on May 27, 2010. Home Star, the legislative proposal designed to create a U.S. energy retrofit rebate program, recently passed similar legislation (H.R. 5019) in the United States House of Representatives on May 6, 2010 by a vote of 246 to 161.

BPI personnel certification and company accreditation credentials – along with many BPI national technical standards – are cited in the draft legislation for the Home Star Act of 2010.

Co-sponsored by 16 senators, this bill is now being examined by the Administration, the Senate leadership and the Senate Finance Committee.

Gulf oil spill vs. home energy

The amount of oil spilled as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil well disaster – the largest oil spill in American history – is equivalent to the amount wasted by just 75,000 homes in a single year, according to calculations performed by Energy Savvy.

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Joe’s Marketing Corner

Set the table while you wait for the meal to be ready

Unless you live under a rock, you've heard about Home Star, the proposed $6 billion federal incentive program that's launched our little industry into the national spotlight in recent months.

The problem with all that Cash for Caulkers hype in the news? You don't need me to tell you. Folks are waiting for it to be passed before they get any work done on their homes. The wait is causing more than a few good home performance contractors to sit idle, and that's not good for business.

You can't blame the homeowner. If someone told me waiting a few months meant I could potentially have half my project paid for, I'd wait too. But what can you do in the meantime?

The best time to set the table is while you're waiting for the meal to cook. Take this opportunity to start nurturing some leads. Do your homeowner education work now, so your next customers ready to sign on the dotted line the instant Home Star becomes a reality.

Start by going through all those cold or 'dead' leads you have on file. Chances are good the customer just wasn't ready to purchase at the time you made initial contact, and that means they're a prime candidate for a little nurturing. You have to warm up those cold leads.

If you have email addresses on file, plan out a series of informative, educational emails you can send them (make sure you include a way to let them opt-out of any future email from you so you're not spamming). These types of communication can build trust and add value to your relationship with that potential customer. Send a new email out every other week, or even once a month.

With cold or dead leads, you can reach out with your standard follow-up phone call as well. Remind them you spoke before. Ask them how the comfort is going, how high the energy bills are, did the mold get taken care of. Offer your help again, just as you would in a standard follow-up. Chances are, if they responded to your proposal like a deer in the headlights, they probably haven't done anything about their problems, and perhaps the issues have even gotten more annoying. The lesson there is basically, "Doing nothing should not be an option since the underlying problems won't fix themselves."

If you live in a cooling climate, now is the time when they feel the pain of uncomfortable rooms and high cooling bills. By now, they have received their July bill, so that sets you up to talk about "the cost of not doing something," and starting to plan a strategy for action.

The idea is to nurture. Demonstrate value. Offer a little something for nothing. Build understanding and you can build it into a sale.

But here's the kicker. If they're still not ready to buy, go ahead and tell them about Home Star. Educate them on the program and how it might work. Make sure they know about Silver Star and Gold Star and the importance of your credentials. Make sure they know about the incentives involved.

If the sticking point standing between you and that sale from a cold lead is simply the dollar amount, you can make sure your phone rings off the hook as soon as Home Star hits by investing a little effort now. Be sure to come away with an agreement that you will contact them as soon as the program becomes available, to talk about the details and hopefully the scheduling!

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