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BPI HEP QCI Certification - is there value?

I am in the process of assessing the value of seeking the HEP QCI Cerificaiton. You have to know a lot just to qualify to take the exams. It costs a lot to get the training plus taking the exams if you qualify. The question is once you have gone through all that pain, is there a market for your services? The Weatherization Assistance Program's (WAP) comprehensive Quality Work Plan requires that all quality control inspections be signed off by a QCI professional as of yesterday. Does that mean that the market for these qualified professional has grown significantly? I can't get a good handle on the number of QCI professionals in the country. The BPI site seems out of date in their listings. Those of you who have achieved this lofty goal: has it been worth it?

Comments

  • Paul,
    I achieved the HEP QCI and EA certs strictly to proctor exams. In MO all QCI for WAP will be done in house by the low income weatherization groups. Same in Iowa. Not sure if other areas will use third party QCI.
  • I got the QCI to be a proctor, but no proctor work as of yet. WAP work is all in-house around here, too.

    It did help me sell my Inspection services locally - I am the only QCI in this corner of my state, so I promoted the Certification to a local (non-WAP) program and got some work.
  • Paul
    I and another auditor here at HAC are QCI's.
    The only concrete value other than exploiting the training/CU gravytrain in if you work in a WAP program that uses DOE money.
    As of April1st of this year any weatherization job has to be QC by a QCI.
    Thats all there is to it.
    Every thing else is just hyperbaric new speak.
    Joshua
  • Looking to get the QCI for proctoring purposes as well
  • Do you think it would be helpful to have support documents particularly for the exam? And do you think there will be a growing flow of people who actually want your proctoring services?
  • I will do what I can to develop some exam prep materials. I have a few folks looking for the cert so I will at least cover cost for me. Really see little need for this in the private sector. The RESNET QAD would probably work for most QC/QA
  • The written exam is geared towards WAP paperwork flow - I just did some educated guessing on those things, as I have not worked in WAP since the 1993. The practical exam was all hands on - like a cross between home inspector and building analyst on steroids. That was easier for me.

    There has been no proctor work forthcoming in the year since I got the QCI cert, and I don't see much coming my way this year. I took it for "free" during the pilot period, don't know if I would have spent real money to have it till I see more demand.
  • Paul,
    Got my QCI a few weeks ago. I work in a WA state WAP program, so it has some value here. It has two significant benefits (besides maybe future work from more inspections requiring a QCI).

    First, as a career auditor, I wanted to stay even with knowing the new responsibilities of inspecting contractor's work. The QCI's duties are a significant expansion of a prior auditor's responsibilities. With the QCI training I feel more confident in expecting (and demanding) higher work and safety standards from my (outside) crews. I have no qualms now reminding crews that I expect to see the right safety equipment in crews trucks (MSDS manuals, safety harnesses, plywood to walk on old roofs, current asbestos and lead certifications, etc.). The actual new standards I understand will be in force in a few months, at least in WA.

    But just as important was the good review and updating of my skills and habits, that studying for the QCI gave me, of what I thought were already good auditing skills. Now they are even better. Proctoring in the future is also attractive. Klaus
  • All of us that work in the WAP here in Maine are currently gaining the QCI Cert. I was in the first group and managed to pass both exams. The field test was super easy for me as I do that stuff everyday but I was quite disappointed in the written test. I managed to get an 80 on the written but I have to say it was the worst test I have ever taken. In Maine so far over half the people who have taken the test have failed. Good thing they have until April or the program would be falling apart as we speak.

    Since I am in the WAP this cert. has value for me, in the private sector I am not so sure. I guess only time will tell if the QCI becomes needed or if a BA will do. I have to say though a guy at our agency took the new BPI BA 1200 tests and If I was spending my hard earned money having an "Audit" on my own home I would hope the "Auditor" had more knowledge than what the BA test proves.

    I agree combustion safety is important but it is in reality, just a small part of this thing we call weatherization. To me it should be more about making homes energy efficient without building mold factories. To many people can get these certs. and still not have a clue what good work looks like or even what materials should be used for what task. I guess that is what the SWS is supposed to address but nothing beats true field experience.

    I think you'll find most agencies are going to have their own in house QCI. A third party inspector would have to charge big bucks because there is going to be a huge liability. When the WAP is trying to do something the cheapest way(most cost effective) and maybe not the "best" way things can go wrong. The QCI signs off because at inspection everything was there and seemed right. Who takes the fall when the mold starts to grow or the ceilings cave in years down the road?
  • I concur with the others - it is a WAP thing. I have an approved training site and offer the certification but have had no interest.
  • WI WAP is in the process of ensuring that each agency has QCI certified staff. WECC has staff certified as well with the primary purpose of proctoring exams for the WAP agencies. Outside of WAP, there isn't much of a purpose for this certifcation. One avenue for third party may be at the state level if they use contractors to complete the required overall statewide QC.
  • Hi Paul, Good question and I have wondered the same thing. I am not QCI nor any HEP certified yet, nor have we -- BPI Test Center Lakes Region Community College in NH -- gone through the process to offer QCI training or testing. Very intensive process to offer any BPI/DOE "Home Energy Professional" training -- QCI, Home Energy Auditor, Wx Installer or Crew Chief. BPI Test Centers need to become IREC accredited, which is quite arduous.

    WAP programs are requiring in-house and external QCI certification, which is a good thing. So if there is a way to get involved in WAP quality assurance / quality control, there may be some work opportunities. In NH I think around 10 WAP-related people have become QCI certified. But the missing link is extending the HEP infrastructure (Standard Work Specifications- SWS; JTAs - Job Task Analyses; all 4 HEP certifications, etc.) to the wider world of residential energy efficiency retrofit work, particularly state and utility sponsored programs such as Home Performance with Energy Star. I am not seeing this happen in New Hampshire. In fact, it is not even clear which version of Building Analyst standards (pre or post 2/1/14) are being used for the state HPwES program.

    So HEP and with it QCI as a unifying force is a reasonably well-conceived idea that is not yet showing up as reality beyond WAP in our neck of the woods. Is it standards / certification overload? Before its time? Too many turf battles? Lack of consumer demand? Probably all of the above. An interesting wrinkle is if Congress ever gets its act together to pass some sort of Home Star'ish retrofit bill. Remember that one from 2010? We may closer to it in 2015, and the HEP / QCI infrastructure already built may be incorporated into any national EE retrofit tax credit system. Don't hold your breath...
  • Paul, I have the QCI certification as I am the lead trainer for the certification in upstate NY. My organization is also IREC accredited as a QCI training provider as per the DOE QWP requirements and we have 3 proctors.
    I've trained about 60 individuals in WAP with a great passing rate.so far with about another 20 to go. The jury is still out on whether this certification will help raise the game for NY WAP. I certainly hope so but in defense of the program it's pretty well run with many years experience within the installer/crew chief ranks.
    I echo the other respondents above as this is pretty well strictly for WAP but I have also trained the Honeywell staff for the NYSERDA Empower program....
    I most likely would not hold this certification if I was not training or doing third party inspections.
  • Paul, I recently passed the HEP QCI exams as part of our NC Weatherization program requirements. The prerequisites were high just to sit for the class/exam and it was expensive. Since our program mandate this certification to monitor and inspect weatherization program homes, I guess it is worth it to keep my job. The curriculum and test did little to increase my knowledge of residential energy efficiency. Besides the basic technical questions, there were many "soft skill" questions (25% of test) relating to customer interaction that were vague, inconsistent and not of much value. In addition to that, these soft skill questions and clear answers were not part of the curriculum. I believe that residential energy efficiency would be better served if the training/test was revised to include more relevant info.
  • Hi Paul,
    As with others here, I have the QCI certification. It was paid for by my employer. I do think it raises the bar for customers to receive better quality services. I believe there are too many energy improvement services out there that are neither adequate nor of good quality. I know of utility programs in particular that go for "low bid" contractors to facilitate CIP programs. It's hit and miss for customers to achieve good results. Additionally, without comprehensive energy audits, quality weatherization work, and a thorough final inspection, some building may have more problems created than were solved.
    As for the time and money investment, I don't know if it would result in better profitability for a business that would make it worthwhile. In the.long run I would say yes it is. I think the certification is here to stay and will become more mainstream. There are more worker category accredations to follow to cover the entire energy conservation industry.
  • We anticipate that the demand for the HEP QCI will grow dramatically as the DOE deadline approaches. We are also beginning to see utilities move up to this new standard for their programs. Just a few states have done training thus far, so the total number of folks with certification is not adequate to meet the national requirement. Some states for example don't have any HEP QCIs yet.
  • I truly appreciate all this input! Very helpful. One thing I am having trouble verifying is the length (number of hours) of the field exam. Is the typical cost $700?
    And I was under the impression that WX agencies had to have this in place as of January 1, 2015. If not then, when?
    Thanks.
  • The folks in KY say 1Jul15. I spoke with Ohio folks and they said the same thing
  • Paul, The field test is 3.5 hours long. The WAP agencies must have QC inspections in place for contract year 2015. In my state, NY, that's April 1, 2015...varies by state in most cases....
  • April 1st it is. You can find it on the WAPTAC website. I think it was WPN 15-4 that had the date.

    Field test was 3.5 hrs. but unless you get a huge house to test on you should finish well before then. Do what is on the Test Field Guide and your done.
  • QCI certified individuals must complete or sign off on all ispections starting in the Grantee Program year 2015, which does vary by state. WI is July 1

    Language from WPN 15-4
    Beginning of Grantee's Program Year 2015

    All units reported to DOE as completed will be inspected to ensure compliance with the specifications in the SWS.
    All quality control inspections, including monitoring inspections, must be conducted and signed off by a certified QCI as outlined in this section.

    Earlier dates for deadlines may apply to having met SWS requirements in place.

    Language from WPN 15-4
    Ninety days prior to the beginning of the Grantee's 2015 Program Year, Grantees will submit completed field guides and standards as well as any variance requests to their DOE Project Officer for review.

    Beginning of Grantee's Program Year 2015
    Grantees will distribute field guides and field standards that conform to the SWS to all subgrantees and direct hire contractors.
  • I don't think you'll find much use for the QCI test specifically outside of the WAP networks. It's of no value to anyone else, when there are other certifications that are already recognized, either by utlity providers or required for some type of rebate program .It's very expensive, over $3500, and retesting, if you fail is not cheap either. External monitoring is not going to be heavily required ( less than 10% of the homes completed) for agencies who have internal trained staff .You might check at your state level and see if they want to contract with your for part of their monitoring services. Unfortunately it's another example of different organizations creating a certification, and the ensuing recertification fees, and the market can't tell the difference. And so far, it seems there is very little cross program cooperation. And as a taxpayer ,watching both DEO and EPA promote very similar programs is frustrating.
  • Paul
    DHCD says April 1,2015
    Thats when our contract starts.
    As QCI for my agency, starting with the most recent procurment based on the SWS, I am enforcing the standards. The latest program pricing for measures is based on SWS standards, so that is what i expect, work that reflects the standard. Like code, its a minimum Requirment!

    I took the QCI and Auditor in the pilot program.So there was no cost.
    I would not have bothered if not for working in a WAP program.

    As a Hers rater i find the thought of having to do a duct test in a existing home verging on the absurd.
    There isn't the money to correct the many concealed leaks that exist in pre 2000 homes.
  • The field exam, though sometime 3.5 hours is allowed, myself and others completed it in 2 hours. It depends on the test building you are using. Some have more mechanical, rooms, exhaust fans, floor levels, inherent shell problems, etc. You are video recorded through the entire process. Most people score 99% if they follow all line items required.
  • It is $700 for field exam (typical fee)
  • Paul, Written QCI test is similar in style (multiple choice, 100 questions) to Building Analyst other BPI Small Homes tests, but BPI allows 2 1/2 hours rather than 2 hours. Average cost in the $350 range.
    Field QCI test, as other point out, is longer than Building Analyst at 3 1/2 hours vs. 2 hours. $700 fee seems steep, but it will be more than the ~$500 typically charged for a Building Analyst field test. BPI also requires a house or lab that has an atmospherically vented combustion appliance, gas range, ducted system, access to attic, among other features. In NH, a home with all these features is rare, but some Test Centers have labs that meet BPI requirements.
    April 1, 2015 is also the WAP QCI deadline around here as well. A wild guess is that 85% or more of QCI training/testing costs are being covered by WAP USDOE or similar training budgets. At around $1,000 just for QCI testing, market demand is low.