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 design and/or install systems in Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, contractors must be qualified as Northwest Approved HVAC Contractors and use the Northwest HVAC System Contractor and Verifier Checklists for all homes being built to Northwest ENERGY STAR specifications. 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 as a Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor, you must complete the following steps:
- Step 1 -- Ensure that at least one representative views or attends the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes HVAC Contractor Quality Installation Webinar and passes the follow-up quiz on QuizStar.com. 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. At the end of the webinar, you will be instructed to contact email@example.com to request a login to the quiz website. The HVAC Contractor Quality Installation Quiz will begin with a question asking for agreement to the terms and conditions outlined in the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes Approved Contractor Program Standards. If participating contractors do not agree to the terms and conditions, notice will be given that they cannot move forward with the qualification process.
- Step 2, Option A -- Full HVAC Qualification*: Ensure that at least one representative passes the HVAC Design Test. Contractors are strongly encouraged to attend the full-day Residential HVAC Design Training in order to prepare sufficiently for the test. The cost of the training is $80 (includes the test). Contractors who are unable to attend the training, or feel their skills are commensurate with Version 3 requirements will be allowed to forgo the full day training and "challenge the test" for $150. To view upcoming trainings in your area, CLICK HERE. To challenge the HVAC Design Test, CLICK HERE -OR-
- Step 2, Option B -- Zonal HVAC-Only Qualification*: If working exclusively with zonal heating and cooling systems, the company's representative can view the Zonal HVAC Design Webinar and pass a follow-up quiz on QuizStar.com. After watching the webinar, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request a login to the quiz website. The Zonal webinar and test are both free of charge.
*Upon completion of the training requirements, HVAC contractors will be added to the Northwest Approved Qualified Contractor List which will indicate what types of systems the company is approved to install in Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes.
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.
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.