Looking to understand Energy Auditor standards and certifications? This page will define the major Energy Auditor Certifications, their training requirements, and what each certification could mean for you.
A word about terminology: an audit need not necessarily be conducted by someone using "auditor" as a title.
The Building Performance Institute (BPI):
A certified BPI Building Analyst energy auditor has passed both a written and field exam. The two-hour, 100-question, written exam requires a passing score of at least 70% while the two-hour field exam requires demonstrated competency with the energy audit process and equipment. BPI does not mandate formal training prior to the exams, but a classroom or online course is highly recommended. The Everblue BPI training courses usually involve one week of full-time training. For more information about BPI training courses, see our BPI Building Analyst Course.
A BPI Building Analyst is certified to conduct blower-door tests (which should be done both before and after upgrades), combustion appliance inspection and repair, air quality testing including carbon monoxide detection, duct testing and airflow testing. A BPI Building Analyst needs to re-certify every three years, either by re-taking the exams or by completing continuing education from a BPI affiliate. While many contractors seeking BPI certification already have extensive experience in the building industry, Everblue's intensive week of BPI training is a perfect introduction to home energy efficiency and weatherization for anyone at any skill level.
While a BPI Building Analyst may advertise and perform only energy auditor services (often charging $125-$700/inspection), most auditors gravitate to offering contracting or remodeling services as well. Additionally, many contracting businesses will market themselves as Home Performance Contractors rather than Energy Auditors since auditing may be just one of the services they offer, and many Home Performance Contractors prefer to make the improvements suggested by the audit themselves.
As you evaluate your options for utilizing your energy auditor credential, keep in mind that the competencies to perform an audit are not necessarily the same as those required to execute an effective energy efficiency retrofit.
An additional benefit of BPI certification is your listing in the directory of BPI-certified Building Analysts which allows homeowners and grant programs to find you for work.
The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET):
RESNET is a national organization that regulates energy efficiency in buildings. A RESNET rating provides a relative energy use index called the HERS Index. HERS stands for Home Energy Rating System. A rating of 100 on the HERS Index represents the energy use of a standard building, while a rating of 0 indicates a new building that uses no net purchased energy.
A certified RESNET energy auditor is called a HERS Rater. To become a HERS Rater, one must take a two-hour, 50-question written exam and pass with a score of 80% or better. One must also complete five provisional ratings within one year of passing the exam. Two of the ratings must be supervised by a RESNET training provider. The last three ratings are “probationary.” These ratings must all be conducted within one year of passing the written exam, and all ratings performed by a HERS Rater are submitted to a RESNET affiliate for quality control and approval. For more information about becoming a RESNET HERS Rater, see our RESNET HERS Rater training course.
A typical RESNET training course is about a week long, with 8-hour days in the classroom and in the field. To maintain the certification, one must acquire 18 hours of approved continuing education within three years.
A HERS Rater is trained to do both home energy ratings and home energy audits. Home energy ratings generally apply to new home construction or major remodeling. This rating may qualify a home for the Energy Star Homes Designation. Home energy audits involve a prioritized list of improvements and a projected cost/benefit for each of the improvements. A HERS Rater directs customers to a qualified contractor to implement the improvements suggested in the audit. A directory of HERS Raters is available here.
Both BPI and RESNET are home energy audit programs. RESNET is focused on new home construction, while BPI is focused on retrofitting existing homes. Home energy retrofits and weatherization incentives are a core component of federal stimulus funds and are driving a huge demand for home energy auditors.
Commercial Building Energy Auditor:
This 40 hour course provides you with essential tools to become a commercial or multifamily building energy manager. You will learn the fundamentals of building energy consumption and gain the confidence necessary to conduct commercial energy audits on various types of buildings. Energy saving opportunities in this class include HVAC and refrigeration system upgrades, building envelope improvements, and lighting retrofit opportunities.
The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE):
AEE's certification programs are recognized by many government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Certified Energy Auditor (CEA) credential distinguishes one from other colleagues in his or her field and demonstrates a high level of experience, competence and specialized knowledge.
CEAs must attend an auditing seminar and pass a four-hour written exam with a score of 70% or better. One must also satisfy stringent educational and experiential prerequisites, which include: a four-year engineering degree plus a minimum of three years of work experience in energy management or auditing; a four-year degree in an unrelated field with five years of auditing or energy management experience; a two-year degree with eight years experience; or ten years of work experience in the energy field. CEAs must be re-certified every three years.
Home Performance with Energy Star:
Home Performance with Energy Star is a subsidiary of the EPA's Energy Star program. The Home Performance Program is focused exclusively on upgrading the energy efficiency of existing homes. The program offers a comprehensive, whole-house approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort at home, while helping to protect the environment. Contractors participating in these kinds of programs hold a certification from the Building Performance Institute (BPI). Home Performance with Energy Star is currently available in 27 states.
Other Programs and Certifications:
At a time when many industries are declining, the green movement has emerged as the quintessential hope for a new and improved environment, economy and future. As the green industry matures and prospers, a multitude of certification programs are likely to surface. The most popular programs are nationally recognized, but there are some good training programs specific to a particular area. For example, the Maine Housing Authority provides an in-depth, two-week, 8 hour/day course followed by a written exam and a field test. Other states provide similar programs.