Contractors who design and/or install Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems in homes which are being built to Northwest ENERGY STAR specifications in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington must become credentialed as Northwest Approved HVAC Contractors. There are two types of credentials offered: Full or Zonal Only. The Full credential will allow contractors to design and/or install all types of HVAC systems, including ducted central systems. The Zonal Only credential will allow contractors to design and/or install ductless heat pumps, hydronic systems, electric resistance heat and other zonal systems only.
Builders, Raters and Providers should search for and choose credentialed HVAC contractors from our Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor list. If you’re interested in using a trusted contractor for your next project who is not on the approved list, please have the contractor complete this enrollment process.
To be qualified as a Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor, you must complete the following steps:
STEP 1) Review the Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor Program Standards which are listed below.
STEP 2) Watch the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes HVAC Contractor Quality Installation and Orientation webinar.
STEP 3) Submit an application, design test and payment*. The application, design test and additional information are found in the Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor Program Enrollment Packet.
Once the application, test and payment* are received, the test will be graded. Please allow up to seven business days for review. If corrections on the test are necessary, the test and instructor feedback will be sent back to the contractor for review. The contractor must resubmit the test with corrections (additional payment is not necessary).
*There is a one-time fee of $150 for contractors seeking the Full credential. The Zonal Only credential is free of charge.
The Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program will be hosting at least two HVAC Design Training sessions in 2014. These trainings are specific for those seeking the Full credential and will provide a more detailed overview of the proper sizing and design techniques for ducted systems in homes seeking a Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes certification. The program calendar will be updated with more information about the training dates and locations. It is not a requirement to attend a training session.
Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor Standards
The national ENERGY STAR for New Homes program, developed and overseen by the EPA, requires all new residential HVAC systems to be installed by credentialed HVAC contractors. To become a credentialed HVAC contractor for homes seeking ENERGY STAR certification, contractors must be approved through an HVAC Quality Installation and Oversight Organization (H-QUITO). As part of the Version 3 Northwest ENERGY STAR specification, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) will act as the H-QUITO for the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington until December 31, 2014. NEEA has worked with the EPA to develop a customized Northwest HVAC checklist to establish consistent regional HVAC standards, and to produce high-quality HVAC installations that are more relevant to the Northwest climate and building practices.
To design and/or install HVAC systems in new residential homes seeking a Northwest ENERGY STARHomes certification in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, HVAC contractors must be credentialed as Northwest Approved HVAC Contractors. Please see the Steps to Become a Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor listed above for more information.
After completing the required credentialing steps, the contractor will become a Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor. This status will allow the contractor’s company to install HVAC systems in homes that are constructed to Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes standards in the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The contractor’s company information will be added to the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes’ Approved HVAC Contractor list.
Beyond the third-party verification of all Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes, in-field Quality Assurance (QA) inspections will be performed by Providers, NEEA or representatives of NEEA. These QA inspections are designed to ensure that Northwest Approved HVAC Contractors are adhering to the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program requirements. As of January 1, 2014*, the EPA has outlined a QA process that must be followed by all H-QUITOs participating in the national ENERGY STAR for New Homes program. This QA process includes a review of no fewer than five (5) of each credentialed contractor’s HVAC Quality Installation checklists and conducting site visits (either in-office or onsite) of no less than one percent of all credentialed contractors.
*NEEA will begin conducting HVAC QA inspections in Quarter 2, 2014.
Conflict Review and Resolution
If poor or incorrect HVAC installations are identified by a Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program third-party Rater, by a Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program Provider, or by NEEA, the HVAC contractor will be subject to review. The Rater, Provider or NEEA will review the installation and paperwork to determine the appropriate course of action. Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program Providers and NEEA reserve the right to remove HVAC contractors from the Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor list and if necessary, prohibit the contractor from participating in the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program.
NEEA will take the following course of action if poor or incorrect HVAC installations are performed by a Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor. A Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program Provider has the option of following the course of action as outlined by NEEA, or the program Provider may determine their conflict review and resolution process.
NEEA Course of Action: If NEEA receives and verifies a homeowner complaint regarding the HVAC system installation, the HVAC contractor will be notified and will have 30 days to make corrections, or NEEA will retract the Northwest ENERGY STAR Home certification. After the third unsatisfactory installation, the HVAC contractor will be notified and removed from the Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor list. The contractor will not be permitted to install HVAC systems on Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes until he/she reviews and completes the appropriate webinar and design test to be re-credentialed as a Northwest Approved HVAC Contractor. The contractor will have 90 days to complete the re-credentialing requirements.
If an additional unsatisfactory installation is done after completing the re-credentialing requirements, the HVAC contractor will no longer be permitted to install HVAC systems on homes seeking a Northwest ENERGY STAR Home certification.
If NEEA is made aware of a different type of infraction, NEEA will determine the appropriate course of action on a case-by-case basis.