As part of the Version 3 Northwest ENERGY STAR specification, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) has worked with the EPA to develop a customized Northwest HVAC checklist, leveraging the BPA’s existing Performance Tested Comfort Systems (PTCS) process to establish consistent regional standards. The Northwest’s HVAC System Quality Installation Checklist produces high quality, consistent HVAC installations that are more relevant to the Northwest climate and building practices. To enable Northwest HVAC contractors to use the Northwest-specific HVAC Checklists in lieu of the national ENERGY STAR Checklist, NEEA will act as the HVAC Quality Installation and Oversight Organization for the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
To be qualified as a Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor and install systems for the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes Program, HVAC contractors are strongly encouraged to use the Northwest HVAC System Contractor and Verifier Checklists for all homes being built to Northwest ENERGY STAR specifications. The Northwest version of the checklists was tailored to align closely with practices in the region and simplified relative to the national checklists. However, the program will still recognize completed national program HVAC System Contractor and Verifier Checklists. The checklists are required as of January 1st, 2012 for homes built in Idaho, Montana and Washington, and January 1st, 2013 for homes built in Oregon.
To be qualified to complete the Northwest HVAC System Contractor Checklist, all HVAC companies must complete the following:
- Ensure that at least one representative views or attends the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes HVAC contractor Quality Installation webinar and pass the quiz. This webinar and quiz will be required every two years from the initial date of qualification for the company to remain on the active qualified HVAC contractor list. To access the most recently recorded version of the webinar, CLICK HERE.
- Ensure that at least one representative attends a full-day mandatory Northwest Residential HVAC Design training, OR if working exclusively with ductless systems, the company's representative can view the 90-minute recorded webinar, HVAC Design for Non-Ducted Homes, in lieu of the full-day trainingl Qualification for ducted and/or ductless installations will be indicated on the Northwest Approved Qualified Contractor List.
- For duct testing, heat pump commissioning and AC commissioning, each individual performing these functions must be PTCS qualified and have a valid PTCS identification number.
The mandatory HVAC Contractor Quality Installation webinar quiz will begin with a question asking for agreement to the terms and conditions outlined in this document. If participating contractors do not agree to the terms and conditions, notice will be given that they cannot move forward with the qualification process. Upon agreement to the terms and conditions and successful completion of the webinar, quiz, and Residential HVAC Design training, the HVAC organization will be listed on the Qualified Contractor List on the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes website. In 2012 in Idaho, Montana and Washington, companies will be permitted to install Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes systems in the interim between the mandatory HVAC webinar and Residential HVAC Design training, provided they complete the classroom training prior to January 1, 2013. In 2013 and beyond, HVAC companies in all Northwest states will have to go through the full qualification process outlined above to be listed on the Qualified Contractor list.
Beyond the third party verification of all Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes, in-field Quality Assurance (QA) inspections are performed by NEEA or representatives of NEEA at a rate of 5-7%. QA inspections are designed to ensure that both builders and verifiers are complying with program requirements. Inspections are selected from the pool of verified homes, with particular focus on new verification companies and homes that have been flagged due to technical deviations. Typically, new program verifiers and builders have their first three homes QA’d to ensure they understand and are following program specifications. NEEA will increase QA inspections if quality issues are apparent upon initial QA. Data collected upon field QA is uploaded and maintained within the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes database for NEEA and stakeholder review.
Conflict Review and Resolution
If HVAC installation deficiencies are identified by the verifier, NEEA QA Inspector or RESNET QA Designee, the installation and/or qualified Northwest ENERGY STAR HVAC company will be subject to review. NEEA or the verifier will review all inspection paperwork and determine the appropriate course of action, based on the issue under review. NEEA reserves the right to remove HVAC companies from the Qualified Contractor list and prohibit them from participating in the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program if compliance issues are determined.
Unsatisfactory Installation – If it is determined that elements of the HVAC inspection are not completed to program and/or PTCS standards, the following course of action will be required:
- The HVAC company has 30 days to fix the installation, or NEEA will retract the Northwest ENERGY STAR Home certification.
- After the third instance of an unsatisfactory installation, the HVAC company will have 90 days to retake the qualification requirements, and will not be permitted to complete installations until the qualification process is complete.
- If an unsatisfactory installation is determined after the second qualification training, the HVAC company will no longer be permitted to install for the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program.
- The verification company will be issued a program warning and their next home will be flagged for QA inspection.
- After the third instance of an unsatisfactory installation, the verification company must retake the Version 3 training requirements within a timeframe determined by the program.
- If an unsatisfactory installation is determined after verifier training has been repeated, the verification company will be removed from the active participating verifier list in the Northwest ENERGY STAR database and website.